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Secrets of a Celebrity Session Stylist

Jonathan Colombini has worked with some of the biggest stars in the world. The LA salon and session stylist has lent his talent to the tresses of Paris Hilton, Laura Prepon, Cindy Crawford, Felicity Huffman, and most prominently at the moment, Kylie and Kendall Jenner.

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Jonathan with Laura Prepon

This means his work has taken him everywhere from red carpets, to the set of Keeping Up With The Kardashians and last week, to Australia, where we sat down with him at La Boutique Salon, Double Bay, to learn more of his career in the spotlight.

With the rise of social media, session stylists are no longer confined to backstage. Jonathan has developed his own high-profile persona, known for his working relationship with the stars, which he regularly documents to almost 50 000 Instagram followers.

If you’re a salon hairdresser looking to make the jump to session work, interested in the latest hair trends straight from the source or purely fascinated by what styling the hair of tinsel-town looks like, read on to see what we learned from Jonathan.

1. Balancing session and salon work can be difficult

Jonathan started off working in salons sixteen years ago, and still spends days at his California establishment. However, he often receives last-minute calls for celebrity session work that require him to cancel a full day of his loyal salon clients.

“It’s tricky, I‘m 16 years into it and I still have issues with juggling it,” he admitted. “The balance is to always be loyal, be compassionate and always tell the truth, if you have a client you need to reschedule just be honest. I think if you leave yourself vulnerable to it and don’t try to pull one over on your clients, it works. There needs to be an open communication, like with any relationship, because from client to hairdresser that is a relationship.”

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Jonathan with Felicity Huffman

2. Wigs and extensions are big business in Hollywood

We all know Kylie Jenner is constantly changing her hair, inspiring her Generation Z followers to head to your salon for the latest cut and colour trend, but while your clients really make the plunge with a new hue or style, Kylie is just playing with that week’s wig. In reality, many stars in Hollywood are going short, and then cutting these extensions or wigs, rather than their actual hair, to have variety in their style.

“It’s a little more liberating,” Jonathan said of this trend. “I love short hair on women but I also like really long hair, so I’m seeing a trend of women cutting their hair and then having more fun with extensions or wigs. I kind of want to start tapping into more extensions here, I love teaching and sharing what I do. I would love to teach how to install extensions and cut them, which a lot of people don’t know how to do.”

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Jonathan with Kylie Jenner

3. He never intended to work in celebrity hair

Starting his career in a salon in Sacramento, Jonathan was initially content to stay there and had never intended to enter the world of celebrity hair. However, all that changed when he moved to Los Angeles in 2010, and started working with celebrity Kimora Lee Simmons and then Paris Hilton. From there word spread, leading to his current popularity among Hollywood A-listers. While he concedes it wasn’t easy at first (“Success didn’t come over night, it came with a lot of crying myself to sleep when I first moved to LA!”), pushing through these initial difficulties and obtaining an agent allowed him to find the success he has achieved today.

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Jonathan with Paris Hilton

4. He’s constantly trying out new products

“Being a session stylist, I get product thrown to me all the time, I can’t tell you how many baskets and boxes and bags I have at my house,” he shared. “Using a product for the first time for me is always a risk. I don’t have time to try out a product on someone’s hair, I do it on myself, and half the time I walk around the salon with hair in every direction!”

His current obsession is the Sachajuan product portfolio, so much so that he had difficulty choosing his go-to product. “Oh my god, they asked me to choose ten today and I was like ‘are you kidding?’ I love all of them! Even looking at the products, it’s simple, clean and easy to understand, you know when you pick up the product exactly what it’s going to do, and it’s easy to sell to my clients.” When pressed, Jonathan lauded the Ocean Mist as a particular product favourite.

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5. He’ll be back in Australia

This wasn’t Jonathan’s first time on our shores and it won’t be his last. The relaxed vibe and fashion style and what he has noticed is a supreme amount of talent in the Australian industry, are just two of the factors drawing Jonathan back here, where he hopes to be able to deliver some LA-style education.

“Being able to share what I love to do with people is one of the best and most gratifying things in my career. I’m not doing anything different to anyone else, but my approach is a little different, and the girth of my work and my experience is a little different,” he shared. “I’m definitely coming back to Australia, so you’ll see more of me!”

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Jonathan with Laura Prepon

Images via @Jonathan_Colombini on Instagram

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