Do you remember when Rihanna was rocking every hair color under the sun? She did it all – the jet black pixie cut, the flame red lob, rock chic peroxide blonde waves and everything in between. The woman behind some of RiRi’s most iconic styles is now working her magic on 23-year-old Euphoria actress, Zendaya. Ursula Stephen, 41, is the secret behind the star’s bold hair makeovers and yet, even though the actress has worn her hair straight, curly, short, very long and rocked multiple colors, she still has bouncy, enviable healthy hair. So, how does she do it?
“They’re all not as brave as you think,” Ursula told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY about celebs who are chameleons when it comes to their hair. “It’s a lot of coaxing in the background.” We spoke to the New Yorker at a recent event to promote her collaboration with the Suave Professionals for Natural Hair Collection where she gave us the inside scoop.
Firstly, Ursula points out that we’re not actually seeing Zendaya and other celebs flaunting multiple hairstyles in a week. “You think you do, because that’s how the media makes you feel,” she said. “But they’re not really getting their hair done every day.” Secondly, Ursula pointed out that many of the stars are wearing extensions. Yes, that includes the jet black bob that Rihanna wore on her Good Girl Gone Bad album cover. (It was a sew-in weave, Ursula said.) “A lot of them are wearing extensions,” she said. “It’s all fake and phony because that’s the only way you can ultimately protect the hair, by not doing too much to it.”
When it comes to playing with your look, sometimes that’s actually a good thing to do for your tresses. “It’s a matter of being really smart with extensions and just having fun, and switching it up too,” Ursula said. “Not doing the same thing over and over and not wearing a part in the middle [of your head] for one year, because that’s damaging too…repeating the way you wear your hair.”
When it comes to the celebs that she works with, Ursula said that knowing their schedule is key to maintaining healthy hair while they’re on, for example, a busy press tour. “[You might say], ‘Well, since you’re doing this today, let’s not put too much heat [on your hair] today.’ Not every red carpet is that serious…” According to Ursula some celebs just walk the red carpet and don’t even attend the event. “So, you’re going to put 450 degrees of heat [on the hair] for what?” she said. “So, sometimes we’re going, ‘Oh, you know what, let’s do your hair curly today.’” Ursula added, “With Zendaya we always calculate, ‘We’ll do heat today ‘cause you don’t have anything else going on for the next two weeks.’”
And when they do leave her hair alone, Zendaya’s routine is very minimal. “Literally washing, putting leave-in conditioner and then air dry,” Ursula said, before later adding, “It’s a matter of focusing and knowing what works and what doesn’t work; when it’s too much, when you should do a little bit more. That’s it.”