Celebrity hairstylist Kristin Ess talks her new Target haircare line, secret hair tips, and her latest beauty obsessions

When it comes to starting trends, Kristin Ess is a hairstyle mastermind. As the go-to hairstylist for Lauren Conrad, Lucy Hale, and Jenna Dewan Tatum, Ess is who we instantly turn to when we want to know what hairstyle everyone is going to be obsessing over next. In 2011, Ess co-founded The Beauty Department with makeup artist Amy Nadine, and has since been at the forefront of many of our favorite celebrity looks. After all, she put the infamous “lob” on the map! And don’t get us started on those frangs!

Ess has celebrated some recent career milestones, including nabbing an honorable spot on Create & Cultivate’s 100 list, as well as her new 15-piece haircare line, which launched at Target last month. We had the pleasure of speaking with Ess about her collection, the hair secrets celebrities know that us non-celebs don’t, and the three badass women who have inspired her throughout her life.


HelloGiggles: Can you tell us about what inspired your new collection?

Kristen Ess: After years of doing The Beauty Department, the frustration that people shared with me the most (other than struggling with frizz and curling iron sizes) is that they couldn’t find an affordable line that preformed at a luxury level. When this opportunity came down the pipeline I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do, without hesitation. So I guess you could say it was inspired by those reading the website and commenting, and telling us what was needed!

HG: What’s your favorite product from your line, and how we can use it?

KE: There is absolutely no way I can answer that. I know that’s a boring response but it’s impossible. Every product was created for a certain purpose. If I said one product it would feel like I was favoring one specific hair type. I can tell you, however, that the most universal product in the line which could improve ANY hair type is the leave-in conditioner.

HG: Can you tell our readers how and when you decided to become a hairstylist?

KE: It’s the only job I’ve ever had. When I was nine, I did it unprofessionally at home on my siblings, and since I was 15, professionally in a salon. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I discovered it super early in life and I consider myself very lucky to have done so.


HG: What is one secret hair tip that celebs all do that us non-famouses might not know?

KE: Extensions, but everyone kind of knows that now. I guess the one SECRET tip would be to take those extensions to whoever colors your hair and ask them to match them to your color so that they become undetectable. People don’t think about that. They just get whatever is closest. One strong gust of wind and your secret is out. But if they’re colored to match your hair, you have nothing to worry about.

HG: How do you come up with some of the fave hairstyles that we see on Lauren Conrad and Lucy Hale? Is it a collaborative effort?

KE: Those girls are so incredible. Sometimes we collaborate and sometimes they just let me get crazy. They have so much to think about when they’re working, so if I can take a load off by worrying about their hair, I do. But I do love when they see something and say, “could we pull this off?”

HG: Who are your some of your own personal style icons?

KE: I have three and they been the same for 15 to 20 years. Isabella Blow will always be my number one. My second is Diana Vreeland. My third is Elsie De Wolfe. They are my leading ladies forever and always. For those who don’t know one or any of them, if you do some research you’ll see that there is one commonality there — insecure girls who didn’t fit in-turned-crazy badass bitches. And that is the tribe in which I feel I belong. I’m not calling myself a badass bitch, but I do think I turned my insecurities into strengths, and I strive to be as badass as them one day.

HG: Any beauty products (not haircare) that you are personally obsessed with right now?

KE: Masks, masks, and more masks. I go into every Korean beauty supply in LA and load up! I know you can get them at other stores now, but I love supporting small businesses! I just got a peek at the new Tony Moly makeup which is pretty magical!

HG: Any other personal beauty secrets?

KE: I have rosacea, so the only foundation I use is Bobbi Brown BB cream. I live for Kiehl’s Creme de Elegance! I’m always dehydrated and it makes me look like I’m not. There’s also something that I got from the girl who does my lashes — it’s a clear mood lipstick with flecks of gold and a little flower inside. She brought it back from Taiwan. Obsessed. Cannot get enough of the Milk makeup line. Those highlighters OMG. And my favorite nail polish of all time: Topless & Barefoot by Essie. I could go on!

What does it take to be successful in your type of work?

KE: 1. Patience. It takes a long time to get where you’re going. 2. Persistence. You have to be consistent AF and become known for something. 3. Preparation. Always be prepared for ANY opportunity that comes your way so that you’re never in a position to say no to something that could further your career. That means research, research, RESEARCH.

You can shop Kristin Ess’s line at Target now, check her out on The Beauty Department, and follow her on Instagram!