Celebrity Hairstylist Mara Roszak Swears by Her Hair Oils

The woman responsible for the locks of Natalie Portman, Michelle Yeoh, Olivia Wilde, and more shares her advice for healthy summer hair.

GIF by Ashley Peña. Images courtesy of Getty
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On any given night in Hollywood, you’re bound to see a Mara Roszak-inspired hair moment. And this year, the Croisette at the Cannes Film Festival is no exception to that rule. Not even the South of France May humidity could mess with Natalie Portman’s ‘do at the Chopard Awards, nor Michelle Yeoh’s stunning, smooth look on the red carpet, thanks to Roszak, who created both of their hairstyles for their respective events. Such a feat of science is impressive, but it’s par for the course in Roszak’s world, where glamorous, slicked-back styles are transformed into natural looks perfect for her celeb clientele (Olivia Wilde, Zoe Saldaña, and Jenny Slate among them). “Mara knows my hair so much better than I do,” says Wilde, who is a longtime client of Roszak’s. “Which is why I trust her implicitly whenever she has an idea. She really understands my vibe—and my complete lack of hairstyling skills—and never forces me into anything high-maintenance or fussy. I love Mara’s calm, confident energy, which makes a massive difference to my experience of doing press. (I’m really just hoping her general disposition rubs off on me through osmosis while she’s doing my hair.)”

When I meet Roszak in person for coffee along one of the Croisette’s most famous hotels, that super-chill energy is palpable. The hairstylist is affable, gracious, and every bit the Laurel Canyon native, greeting me with a warm hug. Roszak—who began her career at the age of 12, when she first started trying blowout techniques on her friends’ hair—is now the co-owner of Mare salon in West Hollywood, and has created her own haircare line of sustainable hair products, RŌZ. But she really blows my mind when I show her my frizzy mess of a hairstyle, dampened by the rain and humid air. Roszak reaches into her bag and produces some potion in a black, opaque bottle. Smoothing the product onto my locks, she says, “It’s coming out in June, you’ll be happy.” True to her word, I’m amazed by the results.

Below, Roszak shares her insights on all things hair, techniques we should consider incorporating into our daily routines, and key tricks and tips to ensure your hair is the healthiest it can be during summer.

Do you have a favorite hair moment you’ve worked on?

One of my favorite looks is one I created on Emma Stone at the Spider-Man premiere in Paris. Emma wore a stunning—what could have been a vintage but was a custom—Gucci dress that had a Gothic/vintage, yet feminine feel, and was just perfection. I created a brushed-out set with pin curls using finger wave clips to help “set,” the hair forming it into the old Hollywood shape. I sprayed hairspray, waited a few minutes, then removed the clips, brushed out the pin curls gently, then pinned it all up into a faux-bob. It is still one of my favorite looks to date.

Emma Stone at The Amazing Spider-Man premiere in Paris, 2012.

Photo by Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images

You have been creating hair looks for high-profile events for almost two decades. How do you ensure success when prepping for a big red carpet or premiere?

I’ve always maintained how important it is to come prepared with a couple ideas for the look or hairstyle to present to the client. Talking it through thoroughly, making sure I’m on the same page with my client, is key. I often like to pull up a mobile mirror so they can see and be a part of the process. How a client feels is very important, before any event.

I love how you style Olivia Wilde’s hair. What’s the secret to her look?

A huge part of my job is figuring out the right shape that works for my client. When I style Olivia, the front section is really important, and we’ve found a shape that works beautifully on her. We consistently take the front section (from temple to temple) and blow dry it down, and towards her face. This creates a soft volume that hugs the face, rather than a blowout with super wide and open volume. For this year’s Met Gala, I loved her after party look. We went for a Lauren Hutton ’70s vibe—very disco-glam, healthy-goddess hair. I waved it with a 1.25-inch curling iron, creating loose textured waves.

Let’s talk hair tips. What are some recommendations you can share for summer, when hair is far more unpredictable?

I had this specific time of year in mind when I formulated the RŌZ Willow Glen Treatment Oil. This oil is organic—beautiful for hair, skin, and scalp. It has Kukui oil in it, a natural antioxidant and hair protectant, shielding your locks from UV rays; it works gorgeously to preserve hair health and color. It will act as a barrier to the sun, ocean or pool water, which can leave the hair feeling dry and brittle. One tip is to apply it on dry hair—I usually put the oil in, then braid my hair. Then after a day of swimming or beaching, wash your hair to give it a fresh start daily.

Are oil masks and hair oils good for the hair? Or are they too heavy if used more than once a month?

I am a huge hair oil fan; based on my own research, oils are an absolute necessary step for healthy, beautiful hair. Oils don’t cause a buildup like bonding treatments do, and you don’t ever have to worry about overuse.

Is scalp care really that important or is it just a passing trend?

I do believe scalp care is important, but at this current time, I find the scalp health marketing assortment to be incredibly overwhelming, leaving many people confused about what’s needed. From my perspective, I haven’t seen many scalp health issues, outside of buildup from using the wrong shampoo, or dry scalp. There are occasional outliers, but they’re incredibly rare. Most of all, everyone needs one shampoo that will thoroughly cleanse, bottom line; I have not seen a major need for scalp restoration products. A shampoo that gives your scalp an opportunity to breathe and be buildup-free is key.

So many people this time of year get fed up with blow drying their hair straight, so they consider chemical straightening treatments like Keratin. What is your honest opinion about these kinds of treatments?

In the past, I have been a fan of these treatments, as I have quite frizzy hair. But I’ve learned over time how to make it look its best with only the products I use, and no chemical treatments.

I don’t recommend any hair-smoothing treatment anymore because it’s my understanding that most of them activate formaldehyde in the formula once heat is applied. There is a risk in getting these treatments, and it’s a worthwhile consideration. If you decide it’s worth that risk, make sure to only have the treatment applied in a fully ventilated area, preferably wearing a mask, outside.

Here’s a scenario: it’s nighttime, your hair is perfect, and there is a party being held outside. Fifteen minutes into the party, it gets humid, your hair starts frizzing. What should you do?

Keeping the RŌZ Santa Lucia Styling Oil in your purse for this type of scenario is a must. When your hair starts frizzing in the humidity, add a little bit of styling oil, and it will simply do the trick. You can also add a little bit more to the palms of your hands and fully slick your hair back into a tight, center-parted ballerina bun (always carry a cute scrunchie with you because it’s an easy way to make the bun look slightly more intentional). Another important tip: make sure to apply your styling oil out of the shower on damp hair as your first step, especially in humid weather. You will notice a huge difference in how humidity is blocked.

Which flat irons and blow dryers do you love?

I love a classic Parlux hair dryer: they last for years and years and are powerful and overall reliable on all hair types.

For specific hair types—for instance, my client, Zoe Saldaña—I travel with my T3 blow dryer, which works beautifully on her hair to maintain volume because of its very light air flow while still smoothing hair with the heat. It won’t remove the body in her hair, so it’s perfect for finer hair.

I use GHD flat irons and curling irons, I find them to work the best. I like their temperature control: they don’t get too hot and they turn off over time, so you don’t have to worry about leaving them on all day.

What is your favorite drugstore hair purchase under $20?

Elnett Hairspray is by far my favorite drugstore hair product under $20—it’s a classic and works beautifully for a soft, brush-able hold.

What’s your key advice for someone who wants to achieve healthy hair long-term?

Hair products are the most important piece to having healthy hair long-term. I have seen thousands of clients during my years as a hairstylist and the number-one thing is: what products are they using at home day-to-day, in between seeing me once every several months? That is the reason I wanted to create my own line. I used to leave my clients with a “prescription” so to speak, of what products they needed to buy for their hair. But the process is overwhelming left on your own, and there are a lot of products that do not work or are not necessary. I wanted to be a source of truth for reliable, versatile, clean, high-performing products, based on a deep knowledge of what’s needed.