As a hairdresser for more than 35 years, Michael Douglas still believes he has the best job in the world. And with a client list that reads like a celebrity who’s who, it’s easy to see why. He has tamed the tresses of Davina McCall, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, and worked for the likes of Pantene, L’Oréal, and Wella. We caught up with him at Harvey Nichols Birmingham as he launched his new MD London BLOW and STRAIT.
Throughout his career styling for countless celebrities and supermodels, fashion shoots and adverts, Michael’s mission has always been simple: to demystify his industry and empower women with the tools, knowledge and confidence to enjoy beautiful hair every day. So much so, he has now developed a range of tools designed to make creating luscious locks at home easy, alongside countless educational videos online where he shares his knowledge and expertise.
We’ve seen you on our TV screens for many years, with The One Show, This Morning and GMB. But your Instagram videos have really taken off:
During lockdown, the vast majority of people were forced into a relationship with their own hair. I started doing Instagram Lives to help them enjoy the fact they could do something with it and make them realise it was easier than they thought. Hairdressing is a bit like the magic circle; hairdressers hate giving away their secrets, but what they don’t realise is it actually adds value. If you watch Michel Roux Jnr on TV cook turbot you don’t instantly go and cook the turbot; you still want to go to La Gavroche to eat that food. I found that if you gift people the information they need, they reward you by coming to see you. So lots of those I helped in lockdown ultimately contacted me and wanted an appointment with me. They also became more interested in their hair and more confident with it.
Is this how your line of hairdryers and straighteners came about?
I learnt that what people want from their hair is to style it better. The biggest problems were frizz, lack of volume and shine, not looking healthy and the style not lasting. Most of the solutions available now are about making hair feel good not making it look good. The thing is, making it look good involves doing something with your hands, and you can’t buy that from the shops. You actually need to learn how to do that. That is ultimately why I invented my range of tools. A really good blow dryer and some simple techniques can resolve all of those problems. That’s not something you can do with a shampoo or conditioner.
I have worked in consumer products for a long time, and I kept thinking that a some point I should launch my own range but there were already so many on the market. I was constantly asked what I could offer that didn’t already exist and I didn’t know the answer to that. With Instagram I was speaking to thousands of people who weren’t having their problems solved so I thought about how could I best help. I’ll give credit to Dyson because they opened up this premium market, but there was a gaping hole that I thought I could fill – combining both tools and education. I don’t mind if you buy someone else’s hairdryer, you can still use my tips and videos, because I know after 35 years this is the stuff that actually works.
Makeup and skincare are like a hobby – they’re fun and enjoyable. And if you don’t like it than you can wipe it off and start again. Hair, on the other hand, is a pain, because it takes so long to do. Make a mistake with your hair and it’s an hour of rewetting it, reapplying product and restyling it. We also get a new set of hair every ten years so we have to learn new skills. I’ve been styling Davina McCall’s hair for 25 years, we met before she had kids when she asked me to style it for Big Brother. Back then it was the easiest thing in the world, it took me seven minutes. She had her first kid and it took me 20 minutes; second kid it took me half an hour; after the third one it took me an hour.
How often should you see a hairdresser?
I think this idea that you should get your hair cut every eight weeks is a myth. I’d say every 12 weeks go for a trim. If you’re growing your hair, and it’s reasonably healthy, then why over-cut it? Let it grow for six months then reassess and maybe get some layers cut in. It’s nice to give your hair a treatment in a salon once every three months, and it’s nice to let someone else blow dry your hair. So see it more as a ritual rather than something you do religiously.
What advice would you give to make sure you get the style you want?
I always advise you use pictures. There was this theory that taking a photo into a hairdressers was a bit of a joke, but if a 60 year-old woman comes to see me with a picture of Jennifer Anniston then I totally understand what she wants. She wants her hair to look full, healthy and caramel colour, and she wants to feel glamourous. You can even bring me a mood board, say three different pictures – a fringe, layers, length. The biggest fault a hairdresser makes is misunderstanding what someone wants. So make sure they have a clear idea of what you’re expecting. If a client doesn’t know what they want then I ask them who have they seen that they like. There is nothing wrong with being aspirational. I constantly look through social media for inspiration; Instagram is the best mood board.
What products should we all have in our hair styling arsenal?
You need two. A PVP resin-based product, so a mousse or blow-dry spray, like OUAI’s Heat Protection Spray, that makes your hair a bit crunchy. That’s where all of the hold, body and longevity comes from, and there’s one I like using called Wella Eimi Sugar Lift. If you think of the 80s it was all crunchy perms, lots of mouse, bit of gel and lots of hairspray. You hair was like a rock but it stayed in place all day.
Then the other product you need is something soft and creamy, like Color Wow Dream Coat or Sebastian Professional Potion 9. The trick is to use both a resin and cream product. Apply the creamy one first, then the resin and then blow-dry. You get the benefits from both – you want your hair to feel manageable and movable and soft and conditioned, but you also want hold and body. When you combine those with a decent hair-drying technique, with a decent nozzle and a decent brush, it’s like “Now I’ve got shiny, frizz free hair!”.