Written by A Wild Dove | Photographed by Eric White
For a small town guy, Ryan Austin has made it BIG. Perhaps that’s why celebrities and musicians from Lorde to Icona Pop to Johnny Weir and Macy Gray trust him with their most precious strands. He’s gracious, funny and humble. The hairstylist got his start the way so many do, in an all-female family where he was resident hair stylist before proms, trips to the mall and other social outings.
He grew up in Dunmore, PA and soon enrolled in beauty school, after which he hightailed it to New York City and then worked for some of the most illustrious names in hair (think Oscar Blandi and Sally Hershberger). Now as a stylist at Cutler Salon in Soho and Williamsburg, he works on shoots with mags ranging from Vogue to GQ to Nylon and with the world’s top photographers like Terry Richardson, Sophie Elgort and Mary Ellen Matthews. We sat down with Ryan to chat Olsen hair, Beyonce break dancing and the products he’s currently loving -
So we are obviously obsessed with your work. Can you describe your journey and how you ended up doing hair?
From a very young age I was obsessed with fashion magazines, models and musicians. Edgy and powerful women like Madonna, Kate Moss and the Spice Girls all had a role in impacting my obsession with hair and fashion. What I most admired about these particular women was their ability to constantly switch up their looks so effortlessly, especially their hair. On top of this, I grew up with two sisters at home so I was constantly exercising my obsession by cutting and styling them for proms, weddings or just for fun. I even styled my sister for her homecoming ceremony. She won, obviously.
Obviously! Did you always know that's what you wanted to do?
Yes, I love being able to help someone change up their look or vibe with a simple haircut. Making someone feel great about themselves, more confident or sexier is so rewarding. A great haircut or style can truly change a person’s life.
We can speak from experience that it DEFINITELY can! How would you describe your philosophy on hair?
My philosophy is that hair shouldn’t be stressful, it should always be fun and bring you confidence that leave you feeling renewed. So, I would say don’t be afraid to take risks, build a solid relationship with your hairstylist and have fun. Period.
Yes! Period. And how do you stay balanced in this crazy industry?
I try to choose hobbies that help me clear my head. I try to switch it up all the time, so some days I’ll go to boxing or a figure drawing class which I really enjoy. Every now and then a Beyoncè dance class can be fun.
Who has the best hair, either now or in history?
So many good ones but I'd say top 5 would be Cher, Mary Kate Olsen, Anna Wintour, Kristen Stewart, Chelo Alonso and Louise Brooks.
Mary Kate! Yassss. Ok, so...what would your hip hop name be?
I heard that your hip hop name is if you put LIL in front of the last thing you ate so I guess mine would be Lil' Smoothie.
Ha! I guess we’d be Lil' Kale. Does that work? And what's your favorite app?
I'm really into music so I'd say Spotify or Shazam. I recently downloaded Meitu, it's an app that turns you into an anime character! I'm obsessed. Also Uber is important.
So fun, must try Meitu! Lastly, what makes you fly?
Traveling outside the country makes me the happiest…
See below for Ryan’s favorite products of the moment -
Sachajuan Salt Spray - “For for someone with ultra soft hair, this product is super light and build-able. I love to spray it into a messy ponytail or topknot.”
Sachajuan Leave-in - Conditioner - “It’s the ultimate leave-in conditioner! It's great for super dry and staticky winter hair. I use this for every type of hair from super coarse to very fine thin hair.”
Redken Powder Grip - “Perfect for that little added texture in the crown. This product gives you that next day hair look.”
FATBOY Shampoo and Conditioner - “This combo is a perfect shampoo and conditioner. It smells great, it's sulfate, paraben and gluten free. It also protects hair color from sun damage and is keratin safe. And it's made and packaged in Brooklyn!”
Harry Josh Hot Tools - “ I use these tools everyday!! The curling iron has a detachable clamp and can be turned into a curling wand and the flat iron’s ceramic plates create the shiniest hair you can ever imagine. Best in the game.”
Amika Blow Dryer - “It’s super light and easy to use. It’s also really modern looking, which I like.”
Sachajuan Sea Salt Spray | Sachajuan Leave -in Conditioner | Redken Power Grip | Fatboy Shampoo | Fatboy Conditioner | Harry Josh Hot Tools | Amika Blow Dryer
As modern mamas living in the over information age, (where everyone is an expert and parenting opinions are shared as freely and easily as an Instagram post) it can be tough to filter through the white noise to find the facts. Naturally, we’d love to consider ourselves wise in all sorts of ways, but the truth is sometimes we’re scrawling SOS in the sand. Good thing we’ve got the guidance and expertise of our own personal rockstars: the people who inspire us on the daily. Our rockstars (our flock) are enthusiasts, professionals and influencers in the fields of wellness, travel, education, style—the list goes on. Each one brings a profoundly different perspective to the table, one informed by their own experiences and outlooks. And that perspective is priceless.
They say it takes a village…we say it takes a flock.