Having tousled the tresses of Ellie Goulding and climbed the ranks to become the Global Creative Technical Director at TIGI, Christel Lundqvist has an enviable hairdressing CV. In this month’s edition of ‘Ask the expert,’ we delve into Christel’s career journey to discover her favourite tools of the trade, her working highlights to date and much more!
What is your first memory of appreciating/noticing really great hair?
I have always enjoyed hair, but it was in my late 20s when I started to appreciate great hair and I could appreciate different styles of hairdressing as well. I love that our profession is so expressive and as I’m getting older I appreciate simpler styles as that can be so hard to create. Sometimes when you see something looking so natural, it requires expert skills to make it look that way. But I’m a perfectionist, so for me hair has to have an element of perfection in the style and colour for it to look beautiful.
When did you decide that working within the hair business was going to be a full-time profession?
I have always wanted to be a hairdresser, since a very young age. I remember going to the hairdressers with my mum when I was 6 years old and I used to be fascinated by everything going on. I used to sit and wait for her and as this was back in the 80s I would just sit and watch people getting perms and cap highlights done and I loved it. So as far as I can remember I have always known I wanted to become a hairdresser. There was never a certain time whereby I decided that it was going to be a full-time profession as I have always wanted to be a hairdresser and it was something that I worked towards at school until I was 15 years old.
What is one thing you wish that you had been told before embarking on a professional career in hairdressing?
I was 15 years old when I started as a Saturday girl and 16 years old when I started college and I wished some could have talked me through how important it is at the beginning to work hard and that your foundation is so important. The best thing about our profession is that there are so many different areas you can explore like education, salon work, film, session, travel etc. If I would have known that early I think it would have made me work harder in different areas as when I was younger my goal was just to be qualified rather than making sure I understand all elements of hairdressing such as perming, setting, barbering, colouring, cutting etc.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to stylists just starting out in the hair business?
Work hard and have the dedication as it takes time to learn our craft. There are no shortcuts to hairdressing and practice makes perfect. Anyone starting hairdressing today is so fortunate as there are so much education available now and everything is so accessible. But if you can try to learn as much about everything as you never know if you need the skills later on in your career.
If you want to get into education or session work, try to assist hairdressers that you look up to as it will give you a fantastic foundation and you will learn so much that way. Get involved in competitions that will push you and allow you to think of concepts and ideas which will make you grow as a hairdresser. Research and watch ‘how to’ videos as you will learn very quickly what works for you this way and you are always learning by trying different techniques and methods.
How do you think social media has shaped the industry you are a part of?
Social media is great as there is so much content available at our fingertips. Social media has given lots of hairdressers a platform to showcase their work and a platform for hairdressers to be inspired by each other. It’s a platform we use for consultations and communication with clients as well so it’s become a big part of our industry.
Where do you find inspiration to keep your hairdressing fresh and innovative?
I find inspiration in everything. For colour and mixtures, I love art and anything that is colourful. For shoots and campaign concepts, I love photography and I find a lot of inspiration from fashion campaigns and editorials. I also get lots of inspiration from trend agencies that predict forthcoming global trends; that includes so many different areas such as architecture, food, design, fashion and beauty. I research constantly to get inspired and I save endless images on my phone of absolutely everything.
Who influences you to be a fantastic hairdresser and why?
There are many hairdressers that inspire me, especially session hairdressers as their skill and creative vision makes me want to push myself. But my partner Alex Barron-Hough, who is a photographer, influences me daily – his creativity is exceptional and his eye for perfection, image and design inspires me daily. Working with him allows me to grow creatively and he influences me to push myself further. I often bounce ideas off him as he makes me think of hair slightly differently for shoots.
What has it been like working with celebrities such as Ellie Goulding?
I was fortunate to work with Ellie for a few years at the start of her career. It was really fun as we could be expressive with her hair colour to suit her image. We created a few different pastel looks for her from pale pink through to pearl white. For me, there is no difference between my clients as its really important for me that all my clients feel 100% about their hair and that it always looks fantastic.
What are some of your favourite tools and products to use?
I love my freehand painting brushes for all balayage and freehand painting that I do. Some brushes are makeup brushes from Japan and some I bought along the way in art shops. Apart from the fact I absolutely love the catwalk product Hairista by TIGI, I can’t get enough of this as it gives so much moisture and amazing shine to coloured hair. I use this as a primer before blowdrying for all my colours, especially on shoots as its a great product to use for hair to look healthy and shiny on camera. I also can’t do my job with the new TIGI SOS recovery treatment as it takes hair back to a virgin state in just 5 min. This product is literally magic and I use daily in the salon and when working on shoots as it repairs hair quickly and makes my job so much easier.
What is your favourite part about being a Global Technical Director at TIGI?
I love all aspect of my role as Global Technical Director. I’m very fortunate to be involved in so many different areas such as product development, education development, show work, travel, campaign work, etc.
It’s been such a fantastic past 6 years for me in this role as TIGI copyright colour has grown so much and I work with an amazing team that are the best at what they do.
One of my favourite parts of this role has been researching and product development as the technology and products we have available today are outstanding. The work that goes on behind the scenes by R&D departments are so complex and we often don’t think about the process and how much work that goes into creating products.
I also love when we work on big global campaigns for the brand as it’s such a team effort from hairdressers, photographers, designers, marketeers etc to ensure the concept is developed and launched successfully.
What most people don’t see, is that this role also has a direct link to business performance and growth and its something I have really enjoyed over the years as well.
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