How a Celebrity Hairstylist Gets Her Clients’ Hair So Good

Celebrity hairstylist Bridget Brager shares eight tips for choosing and creating a red carpet-worthy hairstyle.

In the nineties and noughties, our favourite question for celebrities on the red carpet to answer was, “Who are you wearing?” But today, that’s not enough information for us. We want to see celebrity looks posted on Instagram and tagged head to toe with the handles of those responsible for each part of the look. Why? Because we understand, now, that for a look to be deemed a winner, it’s not just about the dress. It’s a sum of its parts—the accessories, the makeup, and the hair. And we want to learn about the brains behind all the beauty.

There’s one woman tagged for many of those winning red carpet hairdos. Bridget Brager (@bridgetbragerhair) is a celebrity hairstylist for some of the most stylish stars in Hollywood including Kate Bosworth, Diane Kruger, and Kristen Stewart. Whether her client is more edgy or prim, Brager knows how to style her hair to complement an outfit in order to create a look that feels equal parts fresh and dreamy. “Everything starts from the dress; it sets the mood,” she says. “From there, hair, makeup, and nails begin a conversation.”

We sat down with Brager to learn her secrets for choosing a hairstyle that enhances an entire look and her tips for executing it.

1. Create mood boards with the looks you’d like to replicate

“Check out Pinterest for inspiration!” says Brager. She suggests making mood boards with outfits you like and events you’re attending as a simple way to organize your thoughts and get inspired.

2. Try a new style, and let typical wavy locks be your back-up

A fun, easy beach wave is always pretty, but it’s expected, so Brager likes to steer away from it. “I love creating cool new looks with my clients,” she says. “I want to create something special.” Brager encourages her clients to take hair risks and try a style that can make a look truly memorable. “My fall back is always ‘if we hate it, it will take 10 minutes to put a bend in your hair—why not just go for it?!'”

3. “Effortless” hair actually takes a lot of effort

A great hairstyle finishes a look, and therefore, hair should be done thoughtfully. “It has to be intentional, even when it’s supposed to be messy,” says Brager. Similar to the no makeup look, there are many steps that need to be taken to achieve a pretty hairstyle that looks effortless. (Also, be sure to learn the proper way to care for your locks.)

4. The foundation of your hair care routine is key

“It might be a no brainer, but the foundation requires a lot of care,” says Brager. “Hydration is key to a great hairstyle.” She suggests choosing a hydrating shampoo and conditioner and making sure to blow dry your hair fully. “Take the time, set your foundation,” she says, “and your style will last all night!” Being the Herbal Essences Celebrity Hairstylist, Brager is a fan of the shampoo and conditioner from brand’s new Potent Aloe line.

5. Use a hair oil

Add a hair oil, like Herbal Essences’s Argan Oil and Aloe Lightweight Hair Oil Mist, to your haircare lineup to protect strands from heat and other everyday stressors that can cause damage to your mane. “Apply it to damp hair, spray in mid-shaft to the ends of the lengths of your hair, brush through and blow dry,” she says. “After you style, spray the oil in your hands, emulsify, and run through the lengths.”

6. Copy the hair on the latest runways

“Runway is a great indicator of what’s next,” says Brager. And she would know—in Brager’s earlier days as a hairstylist, she styled models’ hair for New York Fashion Week shows. Now, she looks to the runways for the latest hair trends to be inspired to create new, coveted looks for her clients.

7. Play around with your hair to learn which elements complement your face best

“Face shape is everything when deciding on a hairstyle,” says Brager. Where you part your hair, tie your hair back, and start a face-framing curl, and which size of curl you choose—these elements will each offer a different effect. “It’s important that you use your hair to balance your face,” she says. “Our hair is a great tool!” (Check out these other hairstylist secrets.)

8. Update your go-to wavy locks hairstyle by changing the way you curl your hair

Brager’s clients often ask her to “do that thing you do,” which means a cool-girl, effortless wave. To create wavy locks that feel fresh, and not so predictable, Brager typically uses a one-inch curling iron horizontally, and she carves little half circles in the hair. “It’s the update on a beach wave,” she says.

Now that you’ve learned a celebrity hairstylist’s secrets for creating a coveted look, learn pro tips for growing out your hair.