In a city known for pushing the envelope and producing some of the world’s greatest fashion and beauty talent, Syd Hayes is one of London’s brightest stars. Having grown up around hair as a child, his mane-centric proclivities are equals parts birthright and calling, with time spent under the expert tutelage of Guido Palau. Syd Hayes’s plate is full, very full. He serves as BaByliss PRO’s Brand Ambassador, L’Oreal Paris’ UK Hair Styling Expert, and a go-to stylist for Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin, and he makes it all look effortless. Ahead, he talks about his love for London’s youth culture, why time to reflect is key to his success, his role models including the inimitable Vidal Sassoon, and more.
How did you get your start in the hair industry?
Having been brought up at my mum and dad’s hair salon, sweeping the floor when I was five, I developed a keen eye and love for hair. Then at the age of 17, I left school to pursue a career in hair—starting in Mayfair at Nicky Clarke’s, then continuing at Daniel Hersheson, and going on to assisting Luke Hersheson and finally world-renowned Guido Palau. Now, as I’m carving my way in the beauty and fashion industry, I’m always looking to find new and exciting inspirations—creating looks inspired by London’s youth-driven culture. I collaborated regularly with a range of photographers, including exciting new wave artists such as Harley Weir and Tyrone Lebon, to some of the most established and respected in the industry like Juergen Teller, David Sims, Alasdair McLellan, and Solve Sundsbo.
Who are some of the role models who have inspired you?
Still to this day, one of my legends has to be Guido who I fortunately worked closely with for three years. Others include Sam Mcknight, Eugene Souleiman, and Leonard Lewis who established some of the UK’s best hairdressers including John Frieda, Daniel Galvin, and Nicky Clarke. Last but not least, I cannot forget the true genius of Vidal Sassoon!
Do you have a signature style or look that you are known for?
I think this would have to be what’s known as London’s cool girl hair. Undone Waves but still polished with and ease! This again is inspired by London’s youth-driven culture.
How do you deal with self-doubt and competition?
This is a tough one. I’ve always believed in not “beating yourself up”! As a hairstylist working at the top of the fashion industry with some of the best photographers in the world, I am constantly being pushed to excel. Without being challenged and pushed, I wouldn’t be where I am today! I’m constantly challenging myself. I don’t think theres any other critic worse than yourself. I was always taught growing up, if you’ve given something your best shot you cannot do any better than that. Competition in my eyes is heathy! Self doubt is worth kicking to the floor.
Which hair products and tools are always in your kit?
There are some key elements to my kit. My hairdryer The Babyliss 3Q is a must! My precious Mason and Pearson—mixed boar, medium size—, the best hairspray in the world which for me is Elnett and luckily I get a never ending supply. And recently I’m obsessed with Ouai Matte Pomade: the smell is out of this world.
Who are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow?
How has social media impacted the industry and what’s your advice to stylists who utilize their Instagram accounts?
Social media has changed the entire world! Global hair brands are strategizing business, garnering media placements, and essentially doing PR and marketing through these channels. Giving everyone an insight into the lives and worlds of others—where will this lead? The question now is: how will this evolve? We are now able to view through the eyes of a hair industry expert, as it happens! My advice would be don’t go out and buy followers and likes—you can see the accounts that do this and it’s not realistic. Be strong to who you are and what you believe in.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
At 21, I thought I was the man…how little I knew! I was just a young man who finished his teenage years and just qualified as a hairstylist in Mayfair. I defiantly worked hard and without that I would have nothing. I would have said listen more though, that’s always hard when you’re young.
What advice would you give to up and coming stylists?
My advice would be to take on all advice from peers, work as hard as you can, take on every opportunity that comes by, and lastly, experience is the best way! I’m still learning now.
How do you define success?
Success to me is to set yourself a goal and try to make it. If you hit it, set another! If not, adjust the goal and make it realistic. You have to remember, you’re only as good as your last job!
How do you balance work and personal life?
Time to reflect–this is the most important thing. It keeps you sane, but the problem is that I find it hard to switch off my active brain! I love what I do and that’s the best thing about hair—there are so many different types and hair journeys. I have an amazingly supportive girlfriend and very cool little Cavapoo called Clive: these two keep me who I am.
How do you think the current political climate is affecting the hair and fashion industry?
Nothing will break us creatives! We’re a team across the world and I will always support others. It might be a little harder to travel, but it won’t stop the passionate and creative talent all over the world.
What is the next chapter for you?
Good question—I’ve got a couple things up my sleeve! Some very exciting things to be honest. I can’t quite talk about them yet, but maybe in a few months I can answer this question for you. Keep your eyes and ears open. Watch this space!