We're lucky in Dubai to often have the very best in the business visiting our shores throughout the year, and this week, celebrity hairstylist Jennifer Yepez and celebrity hair colourist Cassondra Kaeding are in town at JetSet salon in Emirates Towers until November 11. Jennifer is the go-to woman for the Victoria's Secret crew, with the likes of Gigi, Alessandra, Adriana and Martha entrusting their hair to her, as well as Jessica Alba, Salma Hayek and Ashley Graham, and Cassondra is an expert colourist who looks after Kate Hudson and Rooney Mara, among many others.
Bazaar exclusively sat down with the duo to talk all things tresses and trends for this season...
Harper's Bazaar Arabia: Welcome to Dubai! How many times have you been before?
Jennifer Yepez: I’ve been coming here for seven years.
Cassondra Kaeding: I’ve been twice.
HBA: What’s the number one concern that clients come to you with when you’re in Dubai?
JY: Frizz, volume! And keeping the hair long. They want to find out how to style their hair like Kim, or Gigi, like tips and what products you use. How do we tame it and style it for summer.
CK: I have a lot of people here saying, 'I wanna go blonde but can you not use bleach?' which is a little bit difficult! [laughs] Maybe we can go like half a shade lighter but anything lighter than that on dark dark hair... I prefer to tell them what they can do to get it lighter over time, what to do after the colour, mainetenance, things like that.
HBA: I know you both have a lot of celebrity clients, how did that come about for you?
JY: I started very young, when I was 18, I started working with Eugene [Souleiman], Guido [Palau] and Orlando [Pita], so I trained with them for around eight-10 years assisting. And then afterwards you already have the relationship with the girls from assisting so, when you go out on your own, they come to you, they call you, it’s perfect.
CK: For me it actually happened pretty quickly which is great. I started a little bit later, I’ve been colouring hair now for about five and a half years. During my first six months on the floor taking clients, one of my clients landed a Vogue US cover and after that happened, I started on The Hunger Games and that was something very new to me. I was doing everything, Josh, Sam, Liam, Jen, all of them. And it was a really good experience from the start. I feel like starting that way, made it easier for me to do big changes and things like that. A lot of our celebrity clients say, I’ll be blonde today, and you know what, I’ll be brunette tomorrow. So you have to get used to that, think on your feet and work with any texture of hair and any colour.
HBA: How does it work with your celebrity clients when they come to get their hair done?
JY: For me, we work as a team. It's not only about the hair, it’s about what is she wearing to the red carpet or what is the event for, is it day-time or night-time? So we work as a team more so, unless it’s like a personal thing like a hair-cut, then it’s on a different level. But usually I work as a team. And the girl may be like, 'Oh I had this cool idea like this', or I’ll bring an idea, so it works both ways.
CK: With the colour it’s kind of a team, but also I kind of have to put my foot down, and say I will not take you from black to that light again, you just did that. Sometimes I have to really emphasise what we can do and what we can’t do, and what’s going to happen to their hair next. It’s actually very important and I have to stand up for it.
HBA: Yes! Otherwise they’re going to have no hair left!
CK: And then it’s my fault, so I don’t want to do that!
HBA: How do you feel like social media has helped your career?
JY: It’s like my portolio, I used to have a book and tear sheets, and I’d have to wait until the magazine came out, and now we get the image on set or behind the scenes and now this is your book. Clients go now to social media posts, it’s completely changed. You can get a girl just like, you can be my model, whereas before you had wait three months after a photoshoot to get any images. And you had no one to really show it to outside of the industry. It’s a great platform.
KC: Like Jennifer said, a lot of clients also look for inspiration on Instagram and I think it’s helped our industry altogether really. Also to be able to come to places like Dubai and other places in the world, people are like, ‘hey, we want you to come out!’ and it’s amazing to have that experience.
HBA: When I go to a stylist, whether I’m getting it styled or coloured, I take multiple references but I have other friends who take none. Where do you guys stand on clients bringing a reference?
JY: Always bring a reference! Because my idea of what you might think is curly or wavy could be very different from what you think. That way if you don’t know how to exactly explain what you want, a reference will help.
CK: It’s great to have a reference for sure. Though I have clients bring in four completely opposite pictures - one's a blonde, one's a brunette, one's warm, one's cool - so then I try to figure out which one they want and they want bits of everything. I usually tell clients if you can bring two references, that would be great so we can talk it out and I can really tell you where you can go with your hair colour. Just don't bring five or ten, that’s too hard for me! [laughs]
HBA: What would you say is the biggest mistake women make with their hair?
JY: For me I think it's going with a trend that doesn’t fit you. For example, if short hair doesn’t work on you and everyones cutting hair, then a lot of women regret it so always go with what’s going to suit you. If you’re doing a trend, go with a wig. Fake it, like Hailey Baldwin did, and that way you can see if you like it.
CK: I just think you have to be realistic because it’s hard to go back to a colour change. Clients will say, ‘Hey I want this colour’ and want to do so much, too fast. I always say that we're going to take it step by step. Of course, if I have to do celebrity change in two weeks, I’ll start the process now but on my regular clients, I like to take baby steps as much as possible.
HBA: What are your go-to products?
JY: For me it's Honest Beauty. I brought some here for everyone to try! I love the aesthetic of it, I know that even if a girl might have allergies, these products mean that I don’t have to worry about any kind of a reaction. I use that and I also like R+Co, a mix of both, and Kerastase. It just depends on hair texture and the client.
CK: Mine depends on the condition of the hair, and the texture as well, so for my clients who are having colour done, I like things that are for colour treatment and are moisturising. I tend to use a lot of L’Oreal. I also use Shu Uemura, my favourite is the Ultimate Remedy. The Masque is amazing! I try to really get my clients to protect their hair and coat it. If you want to continue doing the things that I can do then it makes my job easier too if the hair is in a healthy condition. If it’s not healthy, that’s when you start getting the overlap, the breakage and the discolouration and things like that. We want to stay away from that, and the stronger your hair is, the more things I can do to it.
HBA: What do you guys see as the biggest trend in hair colouring, both in styling and colouring?
JY: I'm doing a lot of long hair right now. People are asking for really long extensions, they're are embracing the long hair again.
HBA: Mermaid hair is back!
JY: The mermaid hair is back, so I love that my girls are like, ‘Ok let’s do this look!’ I’m really happy about that. Yeah, I’m gonna say, long hair is back!
CK: I’ll agree with her on that! I’m gonna say it’s long and dark. I was in LA on Saturday and I had four of my clients who were pretty light go dark dark dark! It’s like everybody is starting that trend for winter. It’s awesome, and I really like it. We had ombre, and it was really dark and then light and long, and to me it just didn’t look
HBA: What is it that you love most about your job? What is it that makes you so excited to do it every morning?
JY: Every day is a different day. You know this week I was here with Alessandro Ambrosio. Cartier brought her here, we got to go and see a Polo match and we got to do a photoshoot. Every day is so different, I get to travel, I get to be here with JetSet, I get to come to Dubai and travel all around the world. I’m with girls that I absolutely love working with. I get to meet new clients, I love the girls here, the local girls. I have so much fun with them, I see them every time I come. We're here just chit-chatting and meeting their families, I just love that you know, you get to meet so many people.
HBA: What both of you do, it is such a personal thing to be doing someone’s hair...
CK: Yeah, you’re up close and you kind of become like their therapist. I'll have clients come in and say 'I need to talk to you' so we sit and talk before I get onto the hair! It’s really great because you create these awesome relationships. And like Jennifer said, the travel is amazing, to be able to go to different countries and discover new cultures, you know and learn something new. All the girls in LA are like 'take me blonde', and you know I went to Beijing and they wanted crazy colour and I’m like ok well let’s do it! It’s really cool to be able to spread my wings and learn something new every day. It’s never the same for us, it changes.
Jennifer and Cassondra will be at JetSet until end of day on November 11. For more information, visit JetSet's Facebook page.