The Vixen Q&A: Hair Stylist Ursula Stephen On Why Not To Hate On Rihanna’s Red Head + Black Hair Tips

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namcgloster / January 21, 2011
Motions celebrity hair stylist Ursula Stephen is highly requested in the hair game after reinventing the image of several celebs, namely Rihanna, Keyshia Cole and Destiny’s Child member Michelle Willams. Not only have her flawless haircuts been sought after, but also her expert tips and beauty image advice. VIBE Vixen caught up with Ursula on the West Coast to talk about Rih Rih’s red head, 2011 hair trends, and the do’s and don’ts of black hair. -Niki McGloster

VIXEN: You have a keen eye of what’s hot and what’s going to be hot in the future, as we can see with Rihanna new red do. What hair trends do you see making a heavy impact in 2011?
Ursula Stephen:
I think that texture is gonna play a big part for 2011, for sure and I think how everybody was so crazy for blonde, blonde, blonde, I think red will kinda be like a new trend now. Maybe not as fiery red as Rih’s, but just different hues of red will definitely be a trend. I also see middle parts coming back.

Now with the texture, do you mean like a crimp?
Like a nice, easy beachy wave. It can be anywhere from the whole mixed girl curl to the whole beachy, messy wave. I think the beachy, messy wave will be. 

So, the bone straight hair will be phasing out?
I mean, bone straight is always something new. It always comes back in, but I definitely see that texture might be a big thing.

Cool. I think I’ve seen few peoply start with the wavy look already. What were the things in 2010 that you just despise or really hope people will leave in the past?
I don’t despise it, but I think I’m over the shaved sides.

Yeah everybody kinda OD’d on that.
Definitely [laughs].

You are the mastermind behind “The Rihanna Cut” and the reason for the short cut epidemic, so with this new hairstyle, why did you decide Rihanna should dye her hair red?
People ask me that all the time and my answer is ‘Why not?’ She did black, she did blonde, she’s not gonna do green, so I just felt like red. I actually wanted her to go red before she did the blonde, but she was like, ‘No,’ and I was like, ‘Why?’ She was like, ‘No, I don’t wanna do red. I wanna do blonde,’ then [one day] she was just like, ‘I’m ready to go red.’ It was just one of the colors she’s never had. She’s never had red like that. Everybody’s always tried blonde, a blonde streak here or there, but red is that color that nobody really does and nobody really in the industry was doing it at the time. There’s been Charli Baltimore that did red. And people look at blonde as that risky color, when you see red it’s also like an unbelievable color that a lot of people really can’t pull off. And [Rihanna] is one of the ones that could, and she was ready to do it. 

Yeah, at first people were shocked because it was such a drastic difference, but now it’s growing on people. I think they just had to get used to it. Now, how much influence do you have on Rihanna’s hair overall? Tell me a little bit about the relationship you guys have when it comes to making decisions about her hair.
We have a freakin’ crazy relationship [laughs]. Like, it’s different all the time. She’ll hit me with a text or hit me with a picture saying what she wants or it’ll be me coming with something and she’ll be excited about it. Or I would think of something and she’s maybe not ready for it yet, and then she’s like, ‘Yo, I’m ready for it.’ It’s just so many different ways that we do it. But the thing about it, we always seem to get over a certain look or style at the same time. Like, I’ll come to work so over [the hairstyle] and she’ll be like, ‘Yo, I’m ready to change it up,’ and I am too! So, I have influence, but she also is very stylish and very strong and knows what she wants. It’s good ‘cause it works. I may have an idea and she may tweak it to me like, ‘Oh, I’ll love that, but this is good too.’ Sometimes when I think something’s not cute, she’ll be like, ‘I love it!’ I’m like, ‘Are you serious? You crazy.’ [Laughs]

So you two play off of each other. 
Exactly.

Do you think that most people should have that relationship with their hairstylist. I mean, I know some people that just go into the salon and keep it moving, but do you think that it’s necessary to have that relationship?
I think you should definitely have an open relationship with the person that does your hair because it can only have great outcomes if you do. At the same time, it’s all good to let your hairstylist to do anything, but a lot of times you walk out and you’re not happy, you know? You don’t wanna be too pushy. Let your hairstylist create because if you don’t let them create, it won’t come out well because that’s their thing. So, you should definitely say what you want, but always say what you don’t want. It’s always good to have a talking relationship with your stylist. It’s never a good idea to have a stylist who you can’t talk to or that you’re afraid of. I remember when I was a client and I was a young girl going to the salon. Half of the ones I went to, I was afraid of. They always looked so much bigger than you when you’re in the chair [laughs]. I know the feeling of being in the chair, and you think you can’t express what you like or what you don’t like. It’s not a good feeling. So you should always feel comfortable enough with your stylist ‘cause at the end of the day you gotta wear that hairstyle.