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What It’s Like to Be Rihanna’s Hairstylist The Night of the VMAs

Rihanna VMAs

If there was a highlight of this weekend’s VMAs, Rihanna’s 4 performances would definitely top the list. Rihanna looked lit AF as she strutted her way around Madison Square Garden. Not to mention her 4 major hair changes left our heart in a flutter. Yusef, her go to hairstylist for years, shared with us exactly what it’s like to be her mane man on the day of the VMAs below.

“I wanted to show who Rihanna is and has been throughout her career. Her individuality is what made her into the icon she is today, so we wanted to highlight that with the hair. She is authentic and each look is some variation of a signature look that she’s had during her career.”


8:00am: Woke up thinking of the day and immediately took an inventory list… breakfast was definitely not bad either.

9:00am: Took a quick shower and brainstormed my outfit.

10:00am: A car picked me up from Brooklyn and we stopped at few hair shops to grab more equipment on the way to the venue.

11:00am: After rushing to the venue, I arrived and grabbed my credentials.

11:15am: I started setting up equipment in the space so it was organized.

11:50am: Thankfully had a chance to grab a small bite of a sandwich (it only lasted maybe 3 minutes) as I walked into the room the dancers were there.

12:00 – 2:30pm: My team and I worked on the dancers, extras, band members, etc., even cutting some of the guy’s hair

 2:30pm: I went from dancers to Rihanna once she arrived at the venue. She came to the venue with a ponytail and baseball cap. I was very calm with her and started doing her hair from scratch by spraying her hair down before blow drying it. (We washed it the night before so it was really fresh after her rehearsals all week) 

3:00pm-9:00pm: We were all on a constant schedule of rehearsal, sound check, wardrobe, hair and repeat. It’s important for her whole team to be at rehearsal to see how the hair moves on stage and make sure it matches how she feels 

9:00pm-12:00am: I was backstage with her and did not leave her side. We were all on stage until that camera hits her again to make sure she’s looking perfect. What’s great is that she’s very intuitive and works with her hair on stage so it looks perfect the entire time. 

12:00am: After the show, I went straight to doing her hair for the after-parties. This was a soft ponytail pulled into a wavy top bun. The show was over and I wanted her to look all natural and effortless.

  Rihanna Topknot by Yusef


“For the after party, I wanted to have her look simple, effortless and all natural by really showing off her beautiful face. I blew the hair dry with the ghd Air Hairdryer to remove the wet look at the top of the hair from her final performance. I then added a bit of wave to the hair with the ghd Platinum Styler and used MOP Mixed Greens Leave-In Conditioner to add smoothness so when I pulled it into that high ponytail it would be soft and touchable. Once it was up, I twisted it into a wavy top bun and sprayed the hair with MOP C-System Firm Finish Hair Spray to give the hair extra hold and finish. 

2 minutes

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