Life of a Stylist – Being an Extensions Expert with Angela Mason
The Hairdressing industry is so varied that it can be hard to know what path to follow. For the Life of a Stylist Series we have exclusively tracked down hair professionals from a variety of industry positions from tour stylists to A-list Afro barbers so you can gain an insight into the breadth of the industry.
This week we spoke to Angela Mason, a hair extensions specialist who has opened a dedicated extensions salon in South Manchester.
What was your route into hair?
I’ve always had a really keen interest in hair but was a relative latecomer to the industry. Like many people fresh out of university I must have worked in every single job in every industry before realising I wanted to do something I was passionate about. I started working in a salon in South Manchester and trained in all the basics of hairdressing with a great team.
How did you become an extensions specialist?
I knew early on I wanted to specialise in hair extensions and began training at a number of academies across the UK. In the early days I would go on a training course every six months at a different location so I could pick up skills and industry knowledge from different places and then take it back to practice in the salon. I grew good relationships with suppliers and gained a good reputation in the area by focusing on using quality hair with heat-free applications.
What is the main difference between specialising in extensions and hairdressing in general?
There’s benefits to having experience in both. However to really master either I don’t believe you can do both together. A typical hair extension appointment can take the best part of four hours, which can differ from the quick-paced salon floor appointments. You need to be working with extensions all day and every day to improve your skills. I have always worked alongside a colour technician and stylist to be able to give the best overall experience to the client. An area I have always put a strong emphasis on is the cutting and blending of the extensions. Hairdressing experience gives you a good foundation for this but cutting extensions into an existing style is an additional skill. It’s a good idea to go on an advanced extension cutting course to develop additional skills and knowledge.
What challenges have you faced in your career so far and how did you overcome them?
Hair quality is something most extension specialists can relate to. My main priority is providing a good quality service so I won’t tolerate poor quality hair. I have seen many suppliers provide great hair, struggle with the demand and then let the hair quality drop for one reason or another. I’ve spent many years sourcing hair from reputable suppliers that go through strict quality controls, testing myself and continually assessing so that we can provide a consistent service. I would also mention the poor reputation hair extensions used to have. I’ve always focussed first and foremost on the health of my client’s hair and creating beautiful natural fittings. I believe extensions should be an enhancement and not an obvious extension. I would love to think I am doing my bit to change the perception of the extension industry.
What are your top tips for future talent that want to get into extensions?
It can be quite daunting at the beginning, when you are faced with your first few fittings. There are colours and weights to think about, colour placements and creative colour techniques, cutting and blending into an existing style, half heads, full heads as well as an expectation to create an amazing transformation. You are not going to be perfect from the beginning and will only improve with patience and practice. I used to practice on a training head every night and must have fitted over 50 practice heads before feeling slightly comfortable. It is a great industry to be in. When I started I never thought I would be a director of my own company with a four to six-week waiting list but it’s all possible with hard work. Get experience at a reputable busy salon as you will see many different clients with varying wants and needs. And never say no to an opportunity to try something new, whether it is a photoshoot or a creative colour application – you don’t know where it might lead and you will gain great experience.
What is your styling philosophy?
Keep it simple and listen to the client. When we are busy we often forget to ask the client or listen to what they want and sometimes the client is too polite to say. Take the time to get to know your client and their lifestyle.
What is your favourite account to follow on Instagram?
Vixen and Blush or Patrick Wilson. I love their professional style and hair inspiration. Vixen and Blush showcase their gorgeous Russian hair and give styling and image inspiration to everyone. Patrick Wilson is such a talented stylist – I’ve seen his career grow over the years and think he’s a great role model for our industry.
What is your signature look?
I always aim to create a soft and natural finish and I have a signature curling style which mimics a bouncy blow-dry. Recent hair trends have moved towards a more relaxed lived-in style which a lot of my clients love but every girl wants the glamorous soft curl that makes her feel a million dollars every once in a while.
What are the must-have products in your kitbag?
I have a range of go-to hair extension products if a client wants to focus on the care of their extensions. For styling, it would be a great heat protector, a texturising product such as Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray and two types of hair spray. I love Revlon Professional Styling Hairspray for a flexible mid hold and L’Oréal Tecni Art Airfix for major hold. I’m also a massive fan of US brands Bumble and Bumble, IGK and Amika and hope to stock some of these cult brands in my salons in the future. My tongs are my must-have styling tool and I use different ones depending on the type of curl I want to achieve – either Diva Pro Styling Argan Infused tong 38mm, Cloud Nine Waving Wand or the ghd Curve Classic Wave Wand.
Where do you see your career going next?
Having just opened my first salon in South Manchester, I’m excited to offer a warm, inspiring and creative space with a dynamic team. We will be launching the training academy on the second floor in April so I’m really looking forward to passing on all my experience and tips from the industry. I will also be bringing out a line of clip-in hair extensions next year in modern colour ways and then hopefully in the not too distant future, open my next salon!
For more information on Angela Mason visit angelamasonhair.co.uk
[Images courtesy of Angela Mason]
The Hairdressing industry is so varied that it can be hard to know what path to follow. For the Life of a Stylist Series we have exclusively tracked down hair professionals from a variety of industry positions from tour stylists to A-list Afro barbers so that you can gain insight into the breadth of the Read More