There are very few people in the world as warm and inviting as Christophe Robin. With just a quick step into his salon (and mind you- we got very lost and were very late), we instantly felt at home. His lovely staff greeted us with delicious cappuccinos, (with the most fantastic ombre presentation), and we settled in to the cozy couches to have a chat with Christophe, who told us about his amazing line of artisanal haircare. There are few French hairstylists who make such a fantastic name for themselves, but Christophe absolutely sets the bar high, with his dedication to his clientele and deep understanding and nurturing attitude towards haircare. To find out more about this Mane Master, just keep reading!
How did you get started in the industry?
I grew up on a farm in a small village of 62 people and I was supposed to be a farmer, but it’s not what I wanted to do, so at 14 I ran away. My poor mother. When I arrived, I said I was 18 and started working at Jean Louis David, one of the biggest chains of hair salons in France. Within 3 months, I was teaching there. I was training everyone and creating the techniques that were secure, fast, and economic for all the chains of hair salons. At the same time, I was working in studios doing clients, but I could never find any salons that I liked to work at. So at 24 I opened my first salon right here. At first it was only for fashion, and the models and then the actresses came, then everyone came!
When I first started my salon when I was 24 years old, about 20 years ago, it was during the explosion of the top models and it was such a great chance for me because color was not such a big trend back then. The models had to constantly renew their looks and I became responsible for all their color changes. Women like Kristen McMenamy were my muse. We had to bleach her hair all the time and I wanted to create products that wouldn’t damage it. So I created two products at the time, one a moisturizing hair oil with lavender, and a cream shampoo with lemon, and they are still my two best sellers. The shampoo was one of the first known non lathering shampoos, a ‘no-poo.’ There are a lot of hair stylists who don’t care about hair care as much as they care about hair styling. But caring about the hair quality and the color is much different. I spend a lot of time on each of the products in my line. It took me 62 formulations before I came out with my shampoo.
What was the big break in your career?
Kristen McMelany was somebody that pushed me into fashion. She was constantly changing the color of her hair, doing the grungy thing before anyone else. She was one of the first to bleach her eyebrows, cut a short black bob, etc. Then there was Catherine Deneuve in the movie world. She is the queen in France, and we were traveling all over from LA to Germany.
What inspires you as a colorist?
When you do this job you have to really love the people, whether she’s a concierge or a big star. I love looking at a woman and deciding what would make her look her best. My inspiration is in every woman.
What have been some of your biggest career challenges?
Staying trendy. When you’re supposed to be very good, so much comes to you. Shoots, big movies, etc. If there is an actress on a movie and something goes wrong, you have to fly over there right away and correct it, everyone is staring at you and it’s a lot of pressure.
What advice would you give new hair colorists and stylists in the industry?
Right now, everyone wants to be famous. If you’re goal is to be famous, you have to know it will never last. For colorists, you just need to try to get the best results while preserving the quality of the hair. That’s what will help you create trust and long term relationships with your clients. The only advice I can give is to try to be a good artisan and try to get good results.
Did you receive any advice when you first started your career that really helped you?
Yes. It was about caring and about the treatment of the hair. When I first started I was working with an old colorist from the 60’s who always told me if you want to bring the best out of color, you always have to first respect the condition and the quality of the hair. So I have always taken my time to treat the hair in between colors and applications, it takes longer, but it works! It’s just like makeup. When you take your time to make the skin look gorgeous, you can go out and dance all night and it will look perfect. It is the same with hair. If you do it too fast, use a formula that is too strong, etc, it will go wrong.
What is the signature technique you are known for?
There are two. First is the hair painting, balayage, because that is a technique that no one was doing 20 years ago. I’m also known for doing color where you see a beautiful woman, and not her hair color. I love that you can’t even see what we do, but the woman ends up looking great.
What’s the secret to cool, French girl hair?
French girls want to be seen for their art. It’s an attitude.
What is the next chapter for you?
To create a successful U.S. business.