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HAIR TALK: Anja Burton and Kristin Ess

anja burton kristin ess hair talk

A Mane Addicts dream is one that involves, not one, but two Mane Masters casually conversing about all things HAIR. So when beach babe celebrity hair colorist Anja Burton and celebrity hairstylist and colorist Kristin Ess got together to catch up and talk, we were the fly on the wall observing in awe. Kristin and Anja are long lost friends who used to work at Chris McMillan Salon together years ago. Today Anja can be found at Ramirez Tran Salon in Beverly Hills creating every shade of perfect surfer girl hair imaginable. Kristin has famously gone on to create The Beauty Department and owns her own private hair studio in Los Angeles where you can spot some of her celeb clients including Lucy Hale, Lauren Conrad, and Debby Ryan (to name a few). Take a peek below to see what inspires and drives these two friends and talents.



ANJA: Well the first question I have for you, Kristin, is if you weren’t doing hair, where would you be and what would you be doing?


KRISTIN: I always feel like I have the same answer for this. If I wasn’t doing hair, I would definitely be an architect or a photographer. OR- the other option would be an object designer. I think doing something between an architect or object designer is really me, because I always need to be making something and creating shapes and textures. It would probably be my natural path. I feel like I’d probably be somewhere in France.


ANJA: Where in France?


KRISTIN: Paris! I can’t really get out of the city.


ANJA: Yeah I know what you mean about Paris. Is the Marais still your thing?


KRISTIN: That’s my jam!


ANJA: Yeah I feel like we talk about that all the time. I can totally see you in France making some cool things.


KRISTIN: What about you, what would you be doing?


ANJA: I would go in a total opposite direction. I probably wouldn’t even be doing hair and would probably be a marine biologist studying the great white sharks off of our coast. It’s totally different, but I’m just obsessed with them and they’re going endangered.


KRISTIN: And I feel like you are a beach girl through and through.


ANJA: I am definitely. It’s forever in my heart. I also wonder though how that would work, because I have the creative side of my brain, and less of the scientific, memorization side. I don’t know if I would do well with all the crazy terms. Maybe in another life!


KRISTIN: Well maybe you would just do it in a totally different way- a more natural way. Maybe you’d be adopting all the animals haha!

Alright, I have another question for you. What is your dream client like?


ANJA: Ooh that’s a good one! I have to say I feel really lucky in that department because most of my client’s are my dream client! When they say things to me like the color that I give them is the same color they had as a kid or that they feel like they look like a surfer I feel like I really did my job.


KRISTIN: Yeah, I feel like even when we worked together, we were in different rooms, but I could always tell when one of your clients walked through. They just looked like a child in the sun. It was always so obvious!


ANJA: Thank you! I love you! That’s a good question. What’s your dream client like?


KRISTIN: My dream clients are pretty low maintenance and kind of have that natural vibe. I’m so in and out of the studio all day every day and I’m not in the salon every single day, so it’s harder for people to schedule with me regularly. I see most of my clients 2-3 times a year. I feel like my clients always feel pretty when they come in. They do what they’re supposed to do to take care of their hair and color- they use the right treatments, they use purple shampoo, they keep up their own end of the deal. I’m not always doing major hair color changes on most of my clients- I mean, it’s always fun to do a bleach and tone and I have a few clients like that, but most of them are lower maintenance and have hair color that grows out really well.


ANJA: Yeah me too. Don’t you get proud of yourself when a client will come back a year later and their hair color still looks good?


KRISTIN: Yes! I love when a client will leave the country and come back a year later and somehow their hair still looks amazing. And also- thank you for not getting your hair color done somewhere where you didn’t know what was going on, or at home!


ANJA: Yes!!


KRISTIN: Also, and I’m sure you would agree, a dream client is also someone who is really fun! Because salon days can be really long and if we’re going to be stuck in a room with you, you better be a good catch!


ANJA: Yes, I completely agree. Good answer. I’d like to ask you though- what’s your claim to fame.


KRISTIN: I feel kind of weird about that question because I think there is a difference between a claim to fame and a signature look and I feel like they get grouped together. So for me, I feel like a claim to fame might pigeon hole me a little bit, it seems like that could mean my peak. I feel allergic to that question! I can be a certain signature style for a while, but I’m always changing my vibe. The hair I do now is not the same hair I did three years ago.


ANJA: That is so true.


KRISTIN: I feel like even clients that I’ve had for a long time look different now then they used to.


ANJA: Yeah, that’s true. I feel like you’re right. My style, though it will always be in that beachy aesthetic, changes all the time.


KRISTIN: Who is your beauty industry best friend? No pressure!


ANJA: Well, besides you obviously, you’re definitely my ride or die! I work with a girl named KC Carhart. She’s another colorist and I’m obsessed. She is doing amazing things every day as far as hair color goes. She inspires me and she definitely keeps me evolving. A lot of times at the salon, especially lately, we have some major color corrections come in- I mean things we haven’t even seen before, and she makes a major color correction look seriously easy breezy to fix, and that’s how you know someone has some serious skills. Do you agree?


KRISTIN: Yes, I definitely agree. I met her when she was at Chris McMillan and still an assistant doing her friends on the side and she was already good! So it makes sense that now she’s doing even better. I mean, even when she was an assistant she was doing the whole colored hair thing before it was even cool yet. I’m talking the whole mermaid, my little pony hair. AND she rides a motorcycle, so that’s pretty cool.


ANJA: Yes! And she rides a motorcycle! You cannot get made at that. And she rides it really well too.

Do you have a beauty industry bestie yourself?


KRISTIN: That’s really hard for me because I’m around makeup artists more than I’m around hairstylists. I’m usually just in my studio where it’s just me and my assistants working. When I’m out and about it’s usually just me and the makeup artist. I would say Lottie is definitely one of my makeup artist best friends. Have you met her?


ANJA: No. I’ve never met her but I’ve definitely heard of her and seen her work.


KRISTIN: Yeah, we’ve known each other for 10 or 11 years. Maybe longer. She’s definitely my closest friend, besides you, in the industry. I have another question for you- how are you always so happy?


ANJA: Awwww!


KRISTIN: I mean, even when we worked together in the salon you would always come in and were always so happy. I want to know how you maintain that, because we have hard days, very long days working sometimes.


ANJA: Totally! That’s a very hard question. I’m going to have to think about that one. But thank you! You made me smile, because if you think I’m happy all the time, that is awesome! But I would probably be lying if I said I was actually happy all the time. Happiness is definitely a state of mind and I find that when I remain thankful about my life it’s almost hard not to be happy. I also get to wake up everyday and do what I love to do, so how can I complain about that?


KRISTIN: That’s true. Well, it shows and you’re always so glowing. You’re such a lovely person!


ANJA: Well, thank you! Ok, well this might make you blush, but bear with me. You’re the only, ONLY person I know that can flawlessly execute haircut, haircolor, and style. What’s up with that?


KRISTIN: Hahaha!


ANJA: No pressure!


KRISTIN: Well, first of all thank you. For me it was never an option. I started doing hair when I was 15 and I never knew it was an option to choose one or the other because everyone in my salon did both. It wasn’t until I was 22-23 that I started learning, first of all that there were other salons in the world, and also that people specialized in one or the other, and by that time it was too late for me. How can you choose at that point? I was already committed to both in such different ways. I’m also such a control freak in a way.


ANJA: Like you don’t want to give it up to someone else?


KRISTIN: Not even that, because I see people that may cut or color better than me, but it’s sort of that I get a vision in my mind and I really want to be able to execute it.


ANJA: So you were just born that way! Because you are really the only person that can do it all in my opinion.


KRISTIN: I don’t know. I mean, I tried. I don’t know if you remember but when we were working together at Chris McMIllan, they wanted me to choose one or the other and I remember feeling like I couldn’t do it, and they eventually let me do both. But it was a real struggle to think about for a minute.


ANJA: Well, it’s great that you don’t have to and that you can just be free. For me it’s so different because I would never want to cut hair and no one would ever want me to!


KRISTIN: What I want to know is how you get your wave situation in your hair? I want to know what products you use, if you airdry, what do you do? It looks like you just swam out of the ocean. I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s your natural wave, right?


ANJA: Yeah definitely. It’s a natural wave. I try to let it air dry as much as possible because when I put heat on it my texture changes and it gets more frizzy. I also wash my hair everyday, which I always tell people not to, but it just makes me feel awake and clean.


KRISTIN: Do you use purple shampoo on your hair?


ANJA: I do. Once a week to combat brassiness.


KRISTIN: What purple shampoo do you use?


ANJA: I use old school Shimmer Lights by Clairol. It’s the best one. Have you ever tried it?


KRISTIN: Of course!


ANJA: I’ve tried other ones, but for me that one is the best. Then on wet hair I just take little sections and twist in the way it would naturally go. Then I’ll use something like Hair Resort by Kevin Murphy. I do feel like with most ‘beach’ products you have to put a little bit of oil in the hair as well or it gets dreaded. So, I’ll use Oribe Gold Lust Oil and just let it air dry. Some days it works better than others, depending on what’s going on with the weather, but that’s what I normally do.


KRISTIN: It’s amazing! I want to come over and take a photo of it and submit it to something because people need to see what’s up with that!


ANJA: Well, thank you. I do feel like I need a haircut, maybe you can cut my hair.


KRISTIN: Maybe I can come over and do both!


ANJA: That sounds good!


KRISTIN: I mean, what’s a haircut without a photo? If you didn’t Instagram it, it didn’t happen.


ANJA: Haha! My next question for you is, what inspires you?


KRISTIN: The biggest thing that inspires me now is originality. There’s just so little of that right now. With social media everything is just copied and copied and copied. When I see people like Eugene [Soulieman], who I used to work with a lot at fashion week, create new textures and come up with something truly original, that inspires me. It’s SO original. It’s not just about copying something you see on Pinterest. I love when people just go to the drawing board and come up with something new. Inspiration is one thing and a carbon copy is another. Originality really pumps me up, you can tell when something is really from the heart. It’s really rare right now.


ANJA: Yeah, I feel like everyone is heavily inspired by everyone else.


KRISTIN: Are you still traveling a ton? Or are you everyday in the salon?


ANJA: I’m everyday in the salon. I did go teach a class to colorists in London and I’m working on going back to do that again in Septemeber. But honestly I’m happy to be in the salon, then going home and living my life.


KRISTIN: How many people work in your salon?


ANJA: It’s growing everyday. It started with just 10 of us, but it’s always growing. We’re expanding, probably up to 25 right now.


KRISTIN: I want to come check it out!


ANJA: You should! I just got my own little room there!


KRISTIN: Well, my last question for you is, do you miss me everyday?


ANJA: I do!!! I stalk your Instagram, so I feel like I’m there and I get a little piece of you.


KRISTIN: Isn’t that crazy how I feel like I know your life because of Instagram? But, I think if I have any more questions for you it’s going to involve a cocktail on the patio of Chateau.


ANJA: I think that’s the last time I saw you! You were wearing a turban on the patio of the Chateau. You came up with my Instagram name there! Anjabee. Can we do another one of those?


KRISTIN: Haha, that’s true! Yes, I love it.


Don’t forget to follow @kristin_ess and @anjabee for more #manespiration.

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