A Day In the Life of Tracey Cunningham’s First Assistant

Think you have what it takes to be one of the world’s top colorist’s first assistant? Think again. Anyone who’s been an assistant knows that it is no easy fete. But being Tracey Cunningham’s assistant is nothing short of a marathon every.single.day. Between early start times (7:30am!), mega color changes, actresses, models, and 25+ clients… oh, and a flight to Canada–each and every day is total mayhem and an adventure. Below, we caught up with Jacob Schwartz–Tracey’s first assistant who has been assisting her for over two years–to see what a typical day at work looks like for them!


6am: My first alarm goes off and I should be waking up for the day.

6:30am: Not a morning person, clearly, so I finally get out of bed, giving myself exactly 10 minutes to get ready for work.  Then at 6:40am I head out of my house to the open the salon and set up for our first client of the day. 

Jacob Schwartz opening the salon tracey cunningham first assistant

7am: I open the salon and head over to good ‘ol Le Pain to get coffee for the team.

Coffee From Le Pain tracey Cunningham first assistant

7:15am: I spend some time going through emails and text messages from clients and client’s assistants about setting up appointments with Tracey.

7:30am – 9am: Start the first client of the day. Tracey’s doing a big color change for a movie, so we need as much time as possible before our next couple of highlights that start at 9am. While Tracey’s working, I’m holding foils so I know what the game plan is, and the rest of the team is setting up for the day (Jacqui Erickson, Jason Seradsky, Kat Samson, Kevin Star–who we’re stealing from Liz Jung) which involves trays, base colors, prices, messages, scheduling, and packing bags for Canada and NYC… yep, this team is traveling today too.

Jacob Schwartz prepping hair color Tracey cunningham's first assistant

9am – 11am: Olaplex and bleach for breakfast  . The day starts picking up so fast. Highlights and bases are walking in every 15 minutes. The color change Tracey and I were working on needed longer hair for the movie. Luckily, we have Violet Teriti–our hair extension queen–on speed dial. So I send Jason from the team to go run over and grab something we can make work because we are leave for Canada later tonight and she had to go back to film at 11am. These actresses are no joke they bust their asses! (Side note: Tracey just had me do a gold gloss on them and balayage the ends a little bit.)

1pm: Still hustlin’ working on three clients at the same time and we have about 20 more clients to go.

Hair Color Tracey Cunningham's First Assistant

2pm: Everyone’s about on their third coffee already. Hopefully Joe, the Food Lab guy comes in soon. Thinking I can sneak away for a minute and eat.

3:30pm: Our second major color change is going red for a movie and she just walked in. We gotta leave here around 7:30pm to make the 10pm flight!! Tracey’s still working on clients and we’re all juggling so hopefully we can start her soon.

6:30pm: Just when I think the day is slowing down, we meet again hair extensions 🙂 Our big color change is getting glossed for 20 minutes, so I have to do these fast.

Jack Schwartz dying blonde extensions Tracey Cunningham's First assistant

6:45pm: Tracey is the best and ordered us food to go at Fico on Robertson so we can eat before we catch the flight.

7pm: Three of us blow dried the red color change and its so beautiful, but the client convinces us to gloss her again just to make sure it doesn’t fade while she’s gone filming.

7:20pm: Send her to her blow dry (again) and dry up the front and it’s now too dark ahhh. Why. Tracey then worked her magic and balayaged / glossed her a little bit. We’ve got to leave for our flight ASAP so while Tracey and I are working, we have the rest of the team head over to the airport with the bags. That way they check in and make it on the plane for the color class in Toronto.

@zoeydeutch looks amazing as a #redhead I did a screen shot of her real #color card #redhair @redken I did #hilights 10vol w/ 1/8 oz of #olaplex and lowlights with #shadeseq cream 7gc on zone 1&2 9gc zone 3 I leave a little of her ends out. Read the card for The rest of her formula. Her hair was dark blonde with existing highlights… so after I highlighted and low lighted I did several glasses but I didn’t want it to look multidimensional that’s why I started with low lights and highlights and you’ll see in the car that I routed her twice because I thought it looked a little too Hollow I wanted it to look richer. To make a really natural redhead on someone sometimes highlights and shades EQ are enough. Where a base color can look fake. But it depends on what you’re going for. #zoedeutch @olaplex #redkenshadeseq #redkenreds

A post shared by Tracey Cunningham (@traceycunningham1) on

7:30pm: Of course the team gets a crazy Uber driver who  kicked them out the Uber and tosses their bags on the street of because their food smelled.

8pm: The hair turns out GORGEOUS. Tracey of course knocked it out of the park because she’s the queen of color changes (especially redheads.)

8:15pm: We pull it together and all four of us are riding in the car listening to Lana del Rey’s new album headed off the the airport. PS: I still brought my food lol a boys gotta eat.

9:30pm: At the airport everyone is exhausted. I’m drinking water making up for lost time at the salon. The flight is delayed. Tracey is cracking up the jokes and telling us cute stories. How does she have this much energy after a crazy day I will never know. 

1am: Finally feeling like the day is coming to an end. The plane is officially taking off from LA and we arrive to Toronto in five hours. Then we head straight to the hotel to drop off our bags and set up for Tracey’s hair color class. Now I gotta shut my eyes and get some sleep while I can. This is just a piece of what it’s like to work for the amazing Tracey Cunningham. Until next time .

Tracey Cunningham Toronto Canada Hair Color Class

 Nothing short of a crazy day! Jacob has been doing hair for three years now and his next goal is to start taking his own clients on the floor at Meche Salon in Los Angeles. His advice for other assistants out there? “Never let them see you sweat.”

Make sure to follow Jacob Schwartz here for more action-packed days!

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