We welcome this week Andrea Claire working from Toronto and Singapore. We were very impressed to hear about Andrea’s charity work , and heart broken for those little girls. Read below, and even further on to absorb her passion about hair that pops off this page.
Andrea: I was going to Phnom Penh for Riverkids, teaching high risk girls hair and makeup. I had gone 5 times over a few years. The charity has folded, which was very upsetting, I’m sure to them as well as me. Girls have their virginity sold for up to $800 USD. Human trafficking is still very much an issue there. Some girls that I had taught had already been sold and worked off family debt.
Andrea at Phnom Penh for Riverkids.
Andrea’s website: ACLAIREBEAUTY.COM
Andrea’s Instagram: @ACÉTABULAIRE
1/ Tell us what you think is the biggest challenge in hairdressing today?
The biggest challenge in hairdressing today is managing clients expectations. We are in a world of immediate gratification, women come with photos of hair that is overly retouched or that can only be achieved in stages to maintain hair health, yet they want to walk out two hours later with picture perfect hair, multiple levels lighter than what they came in with. Clients also toss around lingo that they think they know.
I think it’s great when women educate themselves about what they want, but unless you’re a mind reader, make sure your client really knows what ‘bricklaying texture’ or ‘layers’ or ‘point cutting’ etc is. I often have clients adamantly say that they only want “one” layer… So, you want a visible line of hair not blended in with your cut? I know they mean long layers but they think it’s literally just one.
2/ What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
I do session work as well as see private clients. I love my craft; but if I had to focus on a specific, I would say that everyday women who come to see me, leaving beaming and happy with their hair makes what I do worthwhile. There’s so much pressure in general for women these days to look ‘picture perfect’ comparing themselves to the OTT Face tuned insta-glam world. Add-on that I’m currently living within the expat community of Singapore, that can be a little Stepford, it’s nice to help my clients to keep it real. We don’t always go out the door with our perfect blowouts and flawless skin; some days it’s a greasy ponytail and a quick blob of sunscreen, and you know what? That’s ok!
3/ Why did you choose the path of hairdressing and was it easy to fall into this work?
I was a teen in the 80s watching MTV and Fashion Television, I loved all the creativity and that greatly influenced my weekend style. When I came across photos of me growing up, clearly it was in my DNA. Doing my aunt’s hair when I was about 5 and doing hair for our grade 8 school production was just the beginning.
Andrea at 4 doing her aunt’s hair and grade 8 school production
4/ If you had not made the decision to be a hairdresser what would you have been?
I used to say that I wanted to be a lawyer or an actress. My husband is a lawyer and I have co-starred on makeover shows, been an expert guest on talk shows, Canadian Idol etc… so kinda…? I played a hair & makeup artist on TV.
5/ What is your greatest strength ?
Empathy; but it’s also my greatest weakness.
6/ Your favourite hairdressing tools?
I love Sultra Beauty tools and bonus: they’re dual voltage! I’m from Canada and live in Asia, so it helps to have a kit that works globally. There’s something magical about the Sultra tools too as the curls / waves don’t drop in the humidity like curls from other tools do. Then of course, my Mason Pearson brush, Moroccanoil ceramic brushes, (especially the 55 mm), lately I love the base of my hair styles to have bounce and volume. I am now lost when I don’t have the sectioning tips in my brushes, these are genius.
7/ Tell us about your relationship with Iles Formula. How you discovered us and which formula is your favourite?
A few years ago I was in Paris with my friend Sital and I needed to get some hair kit supplies. Sital had said that she had corresponded with Wendy online before and suggested we reach out to her again for Paris recommendations. Wendy replied with an address and a list of suggestions. Fast forward, I did one of the Mastered classes and alumni are offered discounts for various products and Iles Formula was listed.
Honestly, Wendy was so lovely and generous with her email years ago that I thought I’d support her by ordering her product to try. After my products arrived, she sent me a personal email with a few tips. I don’t even need to meet Wendy in person to feel her commitment to her peers and craft. I use the Iles Formula entire line now. I love the finishing serum, I use to on everyone. I love that as you are shooting you can add more, the hair just gets better and better. It never looks greasy or weighed down.
8/ What was the most challenging job you ever made ?
27 years as a hair & makeup artist, it hasn’t been a total cake walk but I would never have it any other way. Session work has a lot of last minute problem solving; client / photographer / director demands, that us old school artists have been trained to be ‘Yes of course we can do that’ ; and then you figure it out. I have that ‘challenge accepted!’ attitude.
I did a shoot with Scott Woodward years ago for Bistecca, a Tuscany style restaurant in Singapore. The concept included photo realism art work. One of the images was the model head to head with a ram. It was a great challenge, that if I did it again, I would change the way I did it. It turned out lovely and of course there was the icing on the cake known as photo-shop, but I built most of it on the day with the model’s hair, wire and hair pieces. I feel it could have been better if I prepped horns at home.
9/ What was your worst hair moment and why….privatly or on set/stage or in the salon?
Oh god. I will NEVER forget. As a junior colour technician, 1993… I added too much violet booster into a client’s highlight formula and I gave her baby pink highlights. I was horrified. She was a judge’s wife. I was so stressed. I left her at the shampoo bowl and just told her that the colour didn’t lift properly. I made a shampoo cocktail and ran it through for about 15 mins. It worked; but I’m scarred for life.
10/ If you could style anyone’s hair, who would it be and why?
I would love to have Alanis Morissette in my chair again. Earlier on in my career, her record label hired me to do her hair and makeup for a press junket. Alanis still had her really long hair. I asked how she wanted her hair and makeup and she said to do whatever I wanted. I played it safe. I left her hair and makeup both fairly natural – she is a stunning woman so obviously doesn’t need much but when given the opportunity to play, I regret not taking it.
11/ Where do you pull hair inspiration from?
Literally everywhere and from everything. Shapes of shadows, birds’ feathers, waves in the ocean, silhouettes of clothing. I’m not exaggerating. I take snaps and save them in files.
13/ Your advice to young hairdressers starting out?
Try. Experiment. Fail. Stay away from the people who bring you down. Don’t gossip. Support your peers. Know your peers. Ask questions. Be confident. Critique your own work, as well as accept constructive criticism. Grow.
More work of Andrea:
Hair and makeup by Andrea. Photo Jingna Zhang.
For hair and makeup for Bistecca, photographer Scott Woodward
Hair for L’Oreal Paris