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Hairstylist Mara Roszak on Standing Out When You’re Staying In

The woman behind Ana de Armas’ and Emma Stone’s ’dos reveals which products she loves to keep hair healthy during this social downtime

Words by MARIE LOOK

 

“People are obviously obsessed with their hair,” says celebrity hairdresser Mara Roszak, referencing the plight many are feeling as a result of California salons closing temporarily due to COVID-19. “The fact that it kind of became this global thing, that people were, ‘What am I going to do about my hair?’ … It [has] made me feel so valued.”

Roszak, a veteran of 15-plus years in the industry, says she is grateful she and her partners — Alex Polillo and Denis De Souza, with whom she opened Mare, a 14-station salon, in West Hollywood in 2015 — work in a field that’s expected to bounce back post-pandemic. “We have over 20 hairdressers … and they’re so talented and amazing. … I cannot wait until we can be in there again, because it’s such a nice family.”

That “family” Roszak references extends from the roster of talented stylists and colorists to her circle of high-profile clients and red carpet collaborators, which in recent years have included Hollywood A-listers Emma Stone, Ana de Armas, Olivia Wilde and Margaret Qualley, plus model Cara Delevingne, and stylists like Karla Welch and Petra Flannery.

In addition to returning to Mare, Roszak longs to be on set or behind the scenes of red-carpet premieres. To keep that creative spark alive while quarantining at home with her husband of two years, musician Taylor Rice (of California-based band Local Natives), and their 9-month-old son, she’s been posting video tutorials to Instagram in which she shares how-tos about mastering the effortlessly cool up-do and tips for the perfect blowout when the salon is not an option.

 

Hairstylist MARA ROSZAK.

 

In the midst of a partnership with vegan line Authentic Beauty Concept (“It’s just this beautiful line, and it’s really simplified, and there’s something for everybody”), which debuted in April, the hairstylist took time out to talk to C about her big break, how she’s been taking care of her clients (and their hair) during the quarantine, and her advice for keeping tresses looking healthy and nourished during this departure from our usual social schedules.

 

People are losing their minds over how to maintain their looks at the moment. What kind of advice have you given to friends or family? 
Everybody I work with has been really responsible, locked down, and so I wasn’t getting a lot of calls to see people, because I think everyone was taking it seriously, which I appreciate. That being said, I did have a couple people who wanted remote haircuts, like for me to walk them through, which was actually really fun for me to do. And then I did get to cut my mom’s hair, and my husband’s hair, and his mom’s hair, because we’ve been in a bubble, just with our family. And although that’s fun, it doesn’t quite fulfill the creative need that I have. So I’ve been doing some video tutorials on myself. I’d rather do it on another person, but it definitely works for now.

 

CARA DELEVINGNE for PUMA, with hair by MARA ROSZAK. Photo via Mara Roszak/Instagram, January 2020.

 

Have you had to style any clients remotely?
I actually did a Zoom cover [for Variety] with Cara Delevingne, and she just posted the “getting ready” with me and her makeup artist [Molly Stern], which was really fun. I mean, she is also a gorgeous model, but she did such a great job — it was a very casual, effortless wave. And then she shot the cover and looked amazing!

How did you get your start in the industry?
I actually spent my senior year of high school in beauty school, which is wild that my mom allowed me to do that. Especially now, having a child, I’m like, oh my god. But I think she really thought it was something I clearly had a passion for. I met a person at beauty school who was a receptionist at Chris McMillan The Salon. He was also studying to become a hairdresser but had this relationship with Chris McMillan, and he introduced us [when I was] fresh out of beauty school, and I started working there in 2004.

What can you tell us about your first high-profile job?
I got a job doing Sarah Michelle Gellar’s hair, who was on her last year of Buffy [the Vampire Slayer]. I got a call from her publicist at the time. I was the only teenager not driving — but I had my mom drive me and drop me off at [Gellar’s] house, to go and blow-dry her hair for an event. And I worked with her for years and years after that, and got to travel the world for the first time. I was 18 years old, working with her, this huge movie star she’d become. And from there on, I built relationships with publicists and started working with Zoë Saldana, Halle Berry, Emma Stone. I was very, very lucky, and I was also very hard-working. And I knew, somehow … you just say yes to things when you’re given opportunities.

 

MARA ROSZAK styling MARGARET QUALLEY; photo by Hannah Choi via Mara Roszak/Instagram, September 2019. EMMA STONE wearing GUCCI at the 2012 Paris premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man, with hair styled by MARA ROSZAK; photo via Mara Roszak/Instagram, September 2019.

 

Is there an all-time favorite look that stands out in your memory?
Occasionally, I feel like these moments happen with red carpet stuff — which I hope eventually we have again — where I think everything comes together in a way that just feels like magic. … We create this look and the character that the actress gets to step into. … And then they go and walk out on the carpet. … [And] sometimes there’s a moment where you’re like, “That really was what I had envisioned.” … There was a premiere, it was Emma Stone in Paris for … [The Amazing] Spider-Man, and she was blond. I mean, I love her red [hair], but this just happened to be a time where she was blond. And she had this vampy lip, and she was wearing this Gucci dress, and we were all just like, “Whoa.” It felt like she was stepping out from another time.

 

“I knew, somehow, you just say yes to things when you’re given opportunities. You just go and make yourself available”

MARA ROSZAK

 

What led you to open your salon, Mare?
We opened it in 2015. I had worked at a couple salons. … For me, it was personally hard to work at someone else’s salon with the type of schedule I had, because I was booking in and booking out. My schedule was really complicated, between the freelance and the salon. … So I thought it would be so great to have our own space. … I have two partners, one’s a colorist [Denis De Souza], and one’s a hairdresser [Alex Polillo] and he runs more like the business side of it. … I had taken a year break from working in a salon, because my freelance travel was so nonstop, and I was like, “I really want to make sure I don’t let this go to the point where I don’t have a salon presence.” And the three of us got together and were like, “Why don’t we do it? We’ll do it our way and create a really beautiful environment, where people feel really taken care of.”

Mare’s space in West Hollywood is gorgeous. What was your vision for it?
[The three of us] went to look at [the building], and it was perfect. We really wanted something that was kind of like a house, that had an indoor-outdoor space, where clients could go outside — we live in L.A., it’s so nice to be able to have that. It was perfect. And then we had The Archers, who were friends of ours, they do architecture and interior design. We were so lucky to have them. … We completely stripped down to the studs and reconfigured the whole interior and made the outside more usable. It took over a year to build, which is longer than we thought. [But] it’s awesome … and the space is beautiful.

 


MARA ROSZAK styling ANA DE ARMAS for the 2020 Golden Globes. Photo via Mara Roszak/Instagram, January 2020.

 

What attracted you to partnering with Authentic Beauty Concept?
So many women will sit in my chair and feel like they have kind of a negative relationship to their hair. I think it’s because, especially as women, we are trying to fit this mold, whatever that perfect hair texture, type is. Part of my job is to undo some of that, because I definitely come from a place of: “No, there is no bad hair.” Sure, there are cuts we could do and products we could use to make it the best it can be, but I think that, truly, I’ve never had someone who had bad hair, I just don’t agree with that. And I think Authentic Beauty Concept … is about embracing what is authentic or unique about each individual. … And then I got the products, and they really are incredible. I have the Replenish Mask that I use — I’ve been using it all of quarantine. I’m just such a big fan of it. I love that it’s free of a lot of the junky stuff in products. … So I’m very excited, if you can’t tell, about the products.

Are your clients just as interested as you are in clean haircare?
I would say that in the last couple of years, but especially recent months, within the last year, I’ve had more clients ask specifically to only use vegan products on them. And [Authentic Beauty Concept] is vegan, and I love that. I love being able to say, “This is a brand that I can stand behind.” I know it’s not tested on animals … cruelty-free. That has been something that’s been more important to clients, for sure.

Do you think vegan products are the direction your industry is headed in?
I would say so. What I will say is that I think people also really want products that work, first and foremost, and I think that it’s obviously great to be a brand that is sustainable or vegan or silicone-free, but if your products don’t work, that is not going to be enough to sustain [your brand]. What I think has been hard for brands to do in the past is find that balance of, “These products really work and they’re free of all this stuff and the packing is sustainable or recyclable.” … [Authentic Beauty Concept] really nailed it, which is a huge part of why it is exciting.

 

AUTHENTIC BEAUTY CONCEPT Shaping Cream.

How do we make sure our hair looks great for our next video meeting?
I’ve loved the Authentic Beauty Concept Shaping Cream as a great leave-in product. I also love the blow-dry spray, because you can leave that in your hair. And that you don’t even have to blow-dry with it, but it’s great, lightweight — it has a tiny bit of hold in it, and it does protect the hair from heat. But it’s one of my favorite products, the blow-dry primer. … I think a lot of people end up brushing their hair too much or fiddling with it too much. Really, the key to that is just to not brush your hair once you’re essentially out of the shower. You comb your conditioner through, and maybe when your hair’s sopping wet, you brush it one more time, but then you don’t again.

How should we be taking advantage of this break from our pre-quarantine hairstyling routines?
I see it as such an amazing opportunity for people to have a restart. I’m a huge fan of masks and conditioners. It’s so important that you have a great conditioner and a great mask. I was lucky to have a little bit of Authentic Beauty Concept here, and I’ve given it to a couple clients that I did get to see briefly — the salon had reopened for like a second [in early June], and then we closed back down [in early July] — and we have Authentic Beauty Concept at Mare too. … I’ve definitely been walking people through moisturizing, and if you can, just leave your mask on your hair for hours — overnight, if you can even do it.

Instagram is currently chock-full of people experimenting with DIY hair concoctions. Care to weigh in?
You know, I think it’s a little bit too messy and more effort than I personally am willing to give it, because I feel like products — they’ve done it for us. … I just want to use my products that I love. I have been living in the Replenish Mask nonstop. I’m sure some of those [DIY recipes] work, but I don’t know if they’re going to work as well.

 

“I feel like these moments happen with red carpet stuff — which I hope eventually we have again — where I think everything comes together in a way that just feels like magic”

MARA ROSZAK

 

What do you think will be different in your industry post-quarantine?
There’s been an appreciation of being able to slow down a bit. I’ve been doing this since I was 17 years old, and I think it’s a story for many hairdressers and makeup artists in our industry, that you kind of just go and go nonstop. I mean, I was working three weeks after I had my baby [in November 2019], and it wasn’t even because I felt a crazy pressure to do it — I just really enjoy the people I work with, which is so lucky, and I enjoy my work. … I was talking to a colorist at Mare [while the salon was briefly reopened from this June to July, when stylists were allowed to have only one person at a station at a time and no clients waiting] and she was saying, “I’ve really gotten to enjoy being with my one client and getting to focus the time and energy.” … Taking that space to be present with the person. … So there is that. I think there will be some positives to take away from this.

 

Feature image: Hair by MARA ROSZAK for ZOË SALDANA, MARGARET QUALLEY and OLIVIA WILDE. Photos via Mara Roszak/Instagram, January-February 2020.

 

Aug. 6, 2020

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