Frédéric Fekkai: Everything I Know About Hair
Frédéric Fekkai: Everything I Know About Hair

Frédéric Fekkai: Everything I Know About Hair

Frédéric Fekkai is an icon among hair stylists. Known for creating chic, sexy looks, he’s worked with Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep, Charlize Theron and Claudia Schiffer among many others. Here, Frédéric shares what he’s learnt during an outstanding career among A-listers…
By Rebecca Hull

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I started off on a completely different path. My father wanted me to go to law school, but I wanted to go to the Beaux Arts – he won. However, I came from a modest family and needed to earn extra money, so I was lucky to find work as a model. Through this, I met a fantastic hairstylist who took me under her wing. I always knew I wanted to delve into my creative side and she gave me so many opportunities to do so. Through her, I met the creative director of Jacques Dessange salons and he asked me to open his New York salon – of course, I said yes. It took a year to open but the experience was invaluable. 

Contacts have always been crucial. Once I’d opened Jacques Dessange in New York, I met a photographer who asked me to work with him on several shoots. This led me to work for the likes of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and once my work became more recognisable, I was asked to run the Bergdorf Goodman salon. The rest is, as they say, history.

My first ‘hair’ memory was in my father’s barbershop. I despised the cold, metallic plate of the buzzer against my neck and the unattractive outcome of my haircut – never again. In terms of my career, one of my first – and best – memories was meeting Catherine Deneuve. I was so awestruck I forgot where I was – my kit and tools were a total mess and I remember being mortified. 

My clients led me to create my own range. There was a GAP IN THE MARKET for products that fused HAIRCARE with SKINCARE SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY.

Murray’s Original Pomade has always been in my kit. I have had a pot since day dot. I don’t use it excessively, but it’s great for styling hair. I see it as a good luck charm, as well as a reminder of good memories.

Working with Elizabeth Taylor was incredible. It's a great memory of mine. I remember receiving a call during the Cannes festival to style her hair. It was last minute and a no-brainer. Her driver arrived in a luxurious Rolls-Royce to pick me up and we were then escorted by the French police to her residence.

Part of my success is my ability to listen and stay focused. I’ve always said you need to give your clients your undivided attention. Spark their interest and provide delightful surprises within your styling. Be generous with your time and be a team player.


It’s vital you prioritise people feeling their best. That’s the secret to working with big names. I always conduct thorough research on celebrities and models before styling their hair. In the past, I relied on a portfolio of magazine pictures, but now I use Pinterest and other media platforms. I’m a big believer in keeping up to speed with trends too – they’re not for everyone, but it helps to give people options. When I worked with First Lady Hillary Clinton I was fascinated by her willingness to try new things. She has unwavering confidence which made her a pleasure to work with. 

My clients led me to create my own range. I noticed that, while my clients were using cutting-edge skincare, they were settling for basic haircare. I realised there was a gap in the market for products that fused haircare with skincare science and technology. Your scalp is an extension of your skin, so it pays to look after it and not neglect it. That’s why I launched Fekkai. My customers were also asking after more sustainable products, so I have ensured everything is packaged as consciously as possible. It’s imperative today that products are clean, safe and sustainable, while still benefiting from the latest innovations in science.

The Glossing Cream is the product I’d recommend first. If you’re on a tight budget, or want to try just one product from Fekkai, make it this one. It’s versatile and lightweight. A small amount will boost your hair’s overall vitality and shine, while helping you to define any style you create. It works for everyone too, no matter your hair type or texture. 

My kit is never without a good set of brushes. I like to use ones with medium to stiff boar bristles as they help to maintain the natural shine of your hair. My favourites come from the French brand Altesse. I always have a good pair of scissors handy too. I go for 6.5 or 7-inch Japanese scissors that are stainless steel and cobalt-treated for the smoothest, sharpest results. I also carry steam rollers with me everywhere – they are the best for achieving voluminous, soft, bouncy styles that don’t look overly groomed.

I always say, TWO HAIR COLOURS ARE BETTER THAN ONE. If you think about youthful hair, it has many shades that contrast one another – that’s what you want to achieve to CREATE DIMENSION and a NATURAL FINISH.

Most of us shampoo the wrong way. I see people apply shampoo directly to the hair when actually it’s better to put just enough product in your palm, then apply it to your scalp. You don’t need to spend ages lathering it up – the water does the work and helps distribute it for you. It’s a better way of washing as too much shampoo on the lengths can strip and dry your strands. 

Cold rinses aren’t a myth. Warm water opens the shaft of your hair; cold water closes them. I advise rinsing hair with the coldest water you can bear. This helps seal ingredients inside your hair shaft and boosts the shine of your strands. 


I always say, two hair colours are better than one. In my opinion, one of the most ageing mistakes we make with our hair is to choose one, solid colour. If you think about youthful hair, it has many shades that contrast one another – that’s what you want to achieve to create dimension and a natural finish. I always recommend balancing any highlights with natural colour and lowlights that create a contrast. A stylist will advise you, but avoid opting for one shade all over. 

Sometimes two shampoos are essential. I am a big believer in ‘cocktailing’ your shampoos. For instance, if you have fine hair that is coloured, alternate between a dedicated colour-preserving shampoo and one that provides volume. You can double up – don’t be afraid to do this. Just like skincare, you need to listen to your hair and what it needs. When it comes to frizzy, tight curls, I recommend doubling up with your styling products too. For instance, mixing a balm with a frizz serum will help relax the curl and eliminate wayward strands. It’s a balancing act, but just focus on your needs.

To create better volume, follow two steps. Firstly, apply a volumising product at the top and crown of your hair to give it body and lift. Secondly, use styling products to define your strands and thicken them up. Glossing creams work well for this, as do texture mists – the Fekkai Power Bond is ideal as it strengthens and seals your hair shaft while adding oomph. I also recommend a diffuser to dry your hair, flipping it upside down as you go. It’s a simple tweak to your routine but makes a big difference to the body you create.

Hair shows are a great place to discover new products. I often go just to find new launches. These shows are now open to customers too. They are the best for sourcing and finding the latest and greatest in haircare.  

I am a big believer in taking a pared-back approach to colour. I don’t like over-processing hair colours or highlights – doing this causes you to weigh the hair down, making it dull and dry. The more you chemically process your hair, the more porous it becomes. When your hair is porous, the follicle scales are opened and they act as a magnet to all impurities – that includes minerals, pollution, dirt and products. This then makes your hair difficult to dry and it loses its natural shine. The same goes for over styling your hair – if you’re using heated tools, always protect the hair with a mist first.

Considering your facial features is key to getting what you want. Have a thorough consultation with your stylist before you undergo any major changes. Take a moment to stand up and observe your silhouette and hair-to-height ratio. For individuals with bony or longer faces, bobs are more suitable as they provide volume on the sides of the face to complement the narrow shape. As for straight bangs and fringes, these don’t work on rounder faces as they accentuate said roundness. You want to know what does and doesn’t flatter you, and how your stylist can use cutting techniques to get it right. Ask for their valuable trade secrets and go from there. Always bring in pictures and videos too, as this helps the consultation process. 

Everyone should own an apple cider-based product. My own Apple Cider Vinegar Detox would be a desert island product for me. Using one every other day helps hair look fuller and fresher. Apple cider vinegar is known for its ability to dissolve dirt, grime and general build-up, so it’s key for keeping your scalp nice and fresh.

My motto is to never fight against what you’ve been given. My most valuable styling tip came from Bruno Pittini, the late creative director of Jacques Dessange. He said it’s important to embrace and enhance what nature gave you, and it’s true. Fighting against that will look unnatural and forced. 

Follow @FredericFekkai for more tips & tutorials



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