Image: Errol Douglas
Image: Errol Douglas

An Interview with Errol Douglas

The Lifestyle Team interviewed Errol Douglas MBE, London International Hairdresser of the year 2022, on his experience in the hair industry, his tips and tricks for students, and what legacy he wants to leave behind.

So you started work at a hair salon at age 11- what did you learn from your experience in the hairdressing environment before you were cutting hair yourself?

“The main thing I learnt was I didn’t want to stereotype myself in the early day. I was working in an environment salon, which only did Afro hair, which was too segregated for me. My philosophy then and is now all inclusive. I think it’s important for hairdressers to do all hair types of hair moving forwards. Education is important to up skill, as the skill of colouring technique’s/cutting techniques are always moving forward.”

As we all know, Covid-19 has really made it hard for everyone with a business in getting back to normal. What negatives of Covid-19 have you seen in your industry?

“My drive this year is to get the consumer to come back into the salon. Far too many freelancers doing at home, but a professional environment is so important, especially when it comes to having hair extensions and any chemicals. In a salon we can offer so much more in a professional environment. We can offer Make -up, eyebrows, bridal, proper consultations for both women and men, a contemporary environment and professional shampoo’s. Yes, it’s my drive to make people aware it’s important to come in and change your look. It hasn’t helped in this day and age with social media as hairdressers are giving away all their tricks of the trade.”

What’s the thing you think has changed most about the industry that you’ve witnessed first-hand?

“The one thing which I’ve noticed is that there’s not many people getting into the profession anymore, i.e. Apprenticeships are dropping rapidly. We’re not getting enough school leavers or college students for that matter anymore. We are taking on a lot of people who are older instead who are from all different backgrounds. Also, another major change is that hairdressers don’t want to work long hours anymore, most probably due to Covid-19. To make sure we now fit everybody into the salon we are open seven days a week, even on a Sunday.”
“Many young people love a bit of box dye every breakup or two- obviously avoiding box dye wherever possible is ideal, but do you have any tips for when you just can’t resist?”
“I hate box dye’s with a passion as the majority of the time if you buy something from the shelf, you don’t know what shade it’s going to be. It’s very misleading and extremely expensive if you need to put it right afterwards in a professional environment.
They typically contain high amounts of ammonia, PPDs, nitro dyes, metallic salts, and even unclean henna. These are harsh chemicals that can be extremely damaging to the hair, as well as cause reactions to sensitive skin and allergies. When you apply box dye, the hair is permanently altered forever till it grows out again. My tip is to always seek professional advice. A proper consultation so a colourist can see your skin tone and your eye colour would be the best route to take. If you’re price conscious, many salons have graduates up to senior levels experts that you can choose from to tend to your hair. As a business, we’ve done too many colour corrections from home box dyes.”
Over the past 50 years, which have been your favourite and least favourite fashion trends in hairdressing?

“The mullet, it’s everywhere and it will not go away that haircut. It looks even worse on different generational ages. Also, the other haircut and you have to look this up is the Suzi Quattro, which is a longer version … that’s all I really need to say.”

What traits do you tend to find in the best hairdressers you have worked with?

“Having a natural eye or a natural flow, being naturally artistic as not everyone can be a hairdresser. You have to know how to communicate, have a personality, and be a naturally born leader.”

You have given some very famous haircuts to some very famous people including Brad Pitt, Pamela Anderson and Uma Thurman – off all of the celebrities you have worked for, who has been your favourite?

Definitely I have to say Lewis Hamilton,  Kelly Rowlands, Zoë Kravitz , the late Robin Williams.

Going for a trim on a student budget can often feel like a gamble over whether you’re gonna be wearing beanies for the next month. What is the most embarrassing haircut you’ve ever given someone?

“Most good hairdressing brands offer trainee haircuts, so go to their assistants on Instagram or websites via their social media. Of course they will be under supervision, so you shouldn’t worry at all.”

Your awards and prestigious positions are countless, such as being named President of the Fellowship for British hairdressing in 2013. What do you think your legacy in the industry will be? What changes to the industry that you feel you’ve made are you most proud of?

“Definitely, my legacy will be known for doing all hair types, Afro hair / European hair mix together in the most exclusive area in the world Knightsbridge. I’m an educator, a mentor and lastly I am brining out an Errol Douglas range of texture products. Globally I am proud of my work being published, and having a TV slot on this morning has to be up there.”

As you are the UK trade ambassador for Dyson, what are your tips and tricks when using the hairdryer/curling wand to get the perfect blowout look?

  • Always clean the filter at the base of the unit
  • Start with clean, wet hair
  • Connect the Gentle air attachment
  • Pre-dry on medium speed, low heat
  • Section hair
  • Attach Styling concentrator for focused styling
  • Select medium speed, medium heat
  • Lift and dry roots with a large round brush
  • Follow the brush with Styling concentrator

“Just take a look at these stats: It promises to increase shine by up to 132%, improve smoothness by up to 75% and decrease frizz and flyaways by up to 61%. Plus, it does all of this faster than any other hair dryer out there and without causing a bit of heat damage to your strands.”

What would you tell your 11-year-old self who was just starting out in hairdressing ?

“Definitely start a wet product range including at least shampoos and conditioners. Also definitely franchise in and around the country in the UK, maybe one in New York and Australia as well. I would also start my own Fame Team Academy, pinpointing the crème de la crème in our industry, and more merchandising of accessories including brushes, hair dryers, everything and more.”


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