“When I was 16, I was wild. I had wild brothers and we all hung out with rock stars. We were living in Hollywood at that point. But after awhile, my friend Rob Saduski, who is a stylist, said ‘You’ve got to go back to school or get a job. Go to that beauty school down the street. You can work for my friend who is a famous hairdresser.’ So I did. He was doing Olivia Newton-John at the time, and I ended up getting to go on tour with her because they couldn’t afford someone who was really huge. She was a mega-star, and I’m like ‘This is cute.' I didn’t want to be a hairdresser. It wasn’t in the game plan then.
I met Herb Ritts at that point because he was shooting the tour. He goes, ‘We should do something together.’ And then we did, and it was a match made in heaven. I worked with him for a couple of decades doing so many iconic pictures. Afterward, I decided to get into fashion and that was 17 years ago. That’s when I hooked up with Lori Goldstein and Steven Meisel. I was working tons with Vogue, with Mario Testino—with everybody. I worked with Helmut Newton, with Richard Avedon—so many iconic things throughout my career.
I was always obsessed with my hair. Paul McGregor was a very famous haircutter in LA and he gave me my first haircut. I used to go to parties and if it’d been raining I’d go back and find the blowdryer in the bathroom and blow it out. I knew if my hair didn’t look good, I didn’t look good.
But that's why hair is a complicated industry. Women can get confused. They are like, ‘How do I use this product?’ It’s a little bit fickle. I want to break that. I want to be the biggest in the industry and the one that cracks that. I’ve always given my ideas to everyone else. I met John Frieda and did his haircare line for 10 years. The Sheer Blonde, the Brilliant Brunette, all that stuff. I was the first one to come out with keratin at home. I was the first one to do the beach waves for Bumble and bumble. I developed that because I love the way my hair looks when I get out of the ocean. I don’t believe in coconut oil or anything like that. Just salt. Just the ocean.
For a long time, I was making mass products, but then I decided I needed to make my own line. For me, it's finding out what I need and making it for everyone else, too. I first begged my company to make my new Superiority Complex Texturizing Paste because I needed it. It’s what finishes my haircut. It just breaks it up. Jimmy Fallon, Jon Bon Jovi, John Mayer all wanted it. Meg Ryan is obsessed with it. We would run out of it and so my company finally got it. Then I met with Sephora. They had always wanted to do something with me, but I couldn’t before.
So my line, 24K, is me. It’s expensive, it’s luxe, it’s everything. It’s the best of the best. It’s hairdresser-driven and we know hair. There isn’t a woman that gets out of my seat that doesn’t say ‘Wow, I look like 10 years younger.’ I’m not messing around. I’m very energized and charged up about it because it’s a big deal to be able to own your own company. I feel like a kid again, you know?
Right now, I’m using my 24K Get Gorgeous StylePro Shampoo and Conditioner, but I still test other shampoos. I love Hyper Hydration Super Keratin Shampoo and my Pump Up Shampoo for Volume Shampoo. I wash my hair probably twice a week, and if I’m at the beach I'll make sure I get it wet. It’s a whole other look with the salt water on it. It’s twice as curly. I’ll use my Kiehl’s Deeply Restorative Smoothing Hair Oil sometimes and put it in my hair, which looks really good.
I'm big on mousse. I had mousse in my line so long ago and people didn’t get it. People in the '80s got it. Now it’s big again, but I have never not done hair without mousse. If I don’t put it in, the hair is too soft and it doesn’t have guts. It needs that grip. You can still run your hands through my hair. It’s light but it holds. I like Physique Extra Control Restructuring Gel by Sebastian [ed note: discontinued].
I get a bad haircut probably every time I get my hair cut, and then I get five more. I would never not have layers. I was growing my hair out into a bob once and it was so geeky. It just doesn’t work for me. You wouldn’t think my hair would necessarily be hard to do, but it takes like five people including me to get it layered on the right angle. Then when it's done, I like my hair as non-hairdo-y as possible. When I was younger and I would get my hair done, I would run home and wet it and do it back myself because I never like that feeling of looking like I just came back from the hairdressers. I use a round brush to blow dry my hair and a paddle brush. I use heat on my hair anytime I style it. I’ll blow dry it and wave it with an iron. I think if you use the right products to prevent damage then it’s fine.
I always had good skin, but I had freckles and I only cared about being tan. I loved when my nose would peel because I hung out with surfers. And I wanted to be blonde, because all the pretty girls had long blonde hair and I had brown hair. So I took Sun-In and sprayed it in my hair and would sit after school with a reflector. Then I got skin cancer on my nose. Now I'm very careful about my sun protection. I like La Roche Posay Anthelios SPF 50 Mineral Light Sunscreen Fluid and I use Blistex on my lips.
For my face, I've used Cetaphil since forever. I love a heavy cream along with that though. I use one from Chanel Ultra Correction Lifting Firming Day Cream and Line Repair Night Cream. I’m really into Skin Medica right now. The TNS Essential Serum, that’s the main thing. Like everyone else, I'm obsessed with Rodin Olio Lusso Luxury Face Oil.
My favorite facial is from the Face Place. I own the one above my salon because I was obsessed with them in LA. They do like Mick Jagger, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, even Oprah. They do everyone, but they’re like a mom-and-pop shop. I’ll go there at least once a month and I get a mani-pedi when I’m lying there.
I don’t wear makeup unless I have to take a picture. I use Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey. My smoky eye is fun because I like to reminisce about being a rocker and it’s just a little sexy to me. I like it even on men. I put the Maybelline Master Smoky Shadow-Pencil in Scorching Brown and just smush it with my finger. I like dark eyebrows. I use the Almay Intense i-Color Eyeliner in Brown Topaz. That’s it. I’m not so picky. And I take it off the minute I’m done. I just think skin is sexier without makeup.
As a hairstylist, I feel like I'm good at creating everyday hair.You can do the fashion thing and that’s fun, but I’m more about making you look the best you can look in your real life. To me, that’s being a little bit sexy, a little cool. My whole philosophy is very lightweight. You don’t see the product in my styles. But sometimes I have to sell people on haircuts. I can pretty much convince people to do most things because I’m really good with people. I know how to make them feel comfortable. Some of my greatest haircuts have been accidents.
When I was in my 20s, I got a call from Julia Roberts—‘Hey Sally, it’s Julie. Can you come over and cut my hair off? I’m sick of it.’ She was sick of being known for all that hair. So I cut it all off. After that, the press just kept calling me. Courtney Love, too—I gave her like, a fucked up bob. I gave her one of her iconic looks. I changed Hillary Clinton’s whole hairstyle for the cover of Vogue. That’s why Annie [Leibovitz] and Anna [Wintour] had me come on. I changed Tom Cruise a million times. When I met him for Top Gun, he had long hair and I cut it off. For Mission Impossible I shaved it off. No one wore their hair shaved then. That made it OK for men to shave their heads. Now, I love Jennifer Lawrence. I’m not obsessed with her hair, but I would be if I did it. I want to get my hands on her hair!”
—as told to ITG
Sally Hershberger photographed by Tom Newton on June 30, 2015._
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