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An Exclusive Interview with Celebrity Hairstylist Valery Joseph by Jinra Ilustrisimo on Feb 6, 2017

Meet celebrity hairstylist Valery Joseph. He's the man behind the gorgeous hair of Lady Gaga, all of the Miss United States Pageant contestants and countless women calling New York's Upper East Side their home. The demand for him is so strong he's currently operating five award-winning salon locations and is the founder of his own hair care line, Long by Valery Joseph. Despite his busy schedule, we were lucky enough to be granted an interview.

How did you get your start in hair artistry?

My neighbor had a salon that I worked at during the summer as a teenager in Israel. I became inspired by the field, especially by how people felt after a great haircut. At that time, I was also studying architecture in school. Architecture and hair concepts are very intertwined. After school, I worked at an architecture firm for a year before joining the army. While I loved every moment of it, the results of work weren't as instantly gratifying as hairdressing.

Six months after joining the army, I got injured and I was home for a few months. When I returned, I was unable to resume my work in the tank division. When I was asked what about else I could do for the army, I told them about my experience working at my neighbor's salon. Coincidentally, the Israeli army was working on improving hair services at the salon for female soldiers. I was then sent to the best hairdressing school in the country.

While attending this school I really fell in love with hair artistry. When I finished, the army assigned me to work as a hairdresser. The female soldiers started to really enjoy receiving salon services. 25 years later, this is still what I love to do.

How would you describe your hair philosophy?

I believe in listening to people and having a dialog about their hair. To me it's important, especially for new clients, to understand what they love, what they don't love, what they fantasize about, what they fear and how much they want to spend on their hair every morning. This dialog and what I see through the structure of the face are pieces of a puzzle that I put together to customize and create the right haircut with each client. All my clients get very personalized care.

Hair is the most important asset on a woman's head. If she has a bad haircut then trust me it's not only you who's feeling it in the salon. That feeling is bad energy that clients leave with that makes them feel less confident. I want women leaving the salon feeling strong, sexy, feminine and elegant. That's what keeps me going, that's what I love. I will never get bored. As long as I can, I will work and create this magic.

As a hairstylist you're exposed to a lot of products. Why did you start your own hair care line?

There's a lot of great hair lines out there. Me being so passionate about what I do, my clients and colleagues wanted me to create a product. Eventually, I became convinced and thought, "You know what? Why not? I would love to create products." My hair care approach is a lot like architecture. When I see a beautiful, tall building that's very firm and structured well, that means the building is healthy and strong and has a great foundation. I wanted to create a product line that serves as the foundation for great hair. I want it to make strong, healthy, hydrated, bouncy, shiny and beautiful hair.

What innovation(s) are unique to your hair care line?

Smart Keratin. I was the first one to create it with my chemist. Keratin is in your hair and is greatly affected by many elements like swimming, sweat, using hot tools, all those things that we're doing on a day-to-day basis. If your hair could talk, it would say, "Give me something to eat, you can't dehydrate me and leave me like that. I will break and I will have split ends." Smart Keratin really listens to your hair. It detects the weakest parts of the hair then reinforces them by mending and filling them over time.

Another ingredient to highlight is baobab oil from the baobab nut. It's an amazing source of protein that will hydrate your hair. We also have artichoke, rice and rhubarb proteins in our hair care line. This along with Smart Keratin creates a beautiful harmony of proteins together that will give you the ultimate hydration. There's no sulfates, sodium or any ingredients that dry the hair out. Our product line is also organic.

What was your involvement in the development of your haircare line?

I was very involved. When I met my chemist I told him a little bit about my background and why it's so important for me to keep the hair as healthy as we can. I told him I wanted products that's really going nourish the hair and I asked him why nobody's invented a protein that can change the ends of the hair. At that time, the technology for that development was within reach. He started to provide me lab samples that I would use and constantly provide my feedback on how to perfect it.

In development we worked with high quality, top-of-the-line ingredients. That's why my product line is a bit expensive. I wanted to make sure I had the best of the best ingredients in my product line. I believe in it and people love it. People love the products, they take it with them everywhere they go. It's only a year and half old so we're already all around the country, all around the world. We have it in all my salons. Now we're ready to bring it out to the rest of the world.

How long did it take for you to test your products on your clients?

Around three years. I involved my clients with the scents that I used. I wanted to hear their feedback, and I changed it more than a few times to make sure that everyone loved the product. I really wanted to involve my clients in developing all the products. It came a long way for me. My clients are really my friends, they can criticize me as well. I used their feedback throughout the process of developing and I took it back to my chemist. That's how we created the perfect formulas. My clients were not only excited to be part of my development, they were really there from the beginning of the process. They watched it all come out together.

What are your tips for winterizing hair?

Hydration, hydration, hydration. A lot of conditioning treatments. A lot of nourishing. When you keep your hair hydrated it prevents static and dryness. It's really all about hydrating your hair. Sometimes people go one shade to two shades darker. Darker hair always makes the hair look shinier and healthier.

Describe to me your most memorable experience of being a hair artist.

That's a very hard question. There are so many! My first haircut was a total disaster. She had a fit because I cut her hair too short. She's still my client by the way. That was a very memorable thing for me in the beginning of my career in New York without speaking any English.

Doing a fashion show for the first time was a memorable thing. Taking care of Lady Gaga's hair was a very memorable thing. Working on clients for The Oscars and seeing them on TV for the first time was also very memorable. There's so many memorable things. You also tend to remember most of the bad things. That's what makes you a better person in the future, or makes you a better hairdresser. It's really when you do something that the client doesn't really like, or she's upset, and then you overcome it and create a better look out of it.

What do you wish people would start or stop doing to their hair?

The two things that I don't like that people do to their hair is when they try to color their own hair at home. That can be a disaster. That's the one thing that I want people to stop. The other thing is when people use hot tools like curling irons or they have bleached or dehydrated hair, that's a very big no-no. People cutting their own bangs. Sometimes it works, sometimes when it doesn't work it can be a disaster. Bangs are the hardest to grow. If you make a big mistake, if you take too much of the hair to the left or to the right, that hair can take months and months to grow.

What do you like to do when you're not working?

I love spending time with my wife and my kids, work out, read, sculpt. I like to walk on the streets and observe street fashion. Street fashion is a very big inspiration for all hair dressers. Especially for me. Sometimes I go to museums and galleries and look at paintings for inspiration. I also love to travel for inspiration.

Shop Long by Valery Joseph Products

Barneys
Amazon

Visit A Valery Joseph Salon

1044 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10075
Between 79th & 80th
(212) 517-2333
Mon-Sat: 8:30-7:00
Sun: 10:00-6:00

Barneys

660 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10065
61st between Madison and 5th
(212) 833-2600
Mon-Sat: 8:30-7:00
Sun: 10:00-6:00

Valery Joseph Blow Bar Express
1457 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10028
between 82 & 83
(212) 300-4142
Mon-Sat: 8:00-7:00

25 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023
(212) 517-7377
Mon-Sat: 8:30-7:00
Sun: 10:00-6:00

*2454 Main St.
Bridgehampton, NY 11932
(631) 537-8967

*seasonal location

Follow Valery Joseph

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