Holli Smith

Holli Smith. Photo by Diane Russo.

Despite being subjected to Shirley Temple ringlet pigtails as a wee thing, Holli Smith nevertheless found her calling in hair. Here, Smith, the hairstylist behind the kick-ass braids in W’s March Looks of the Month, shares her trade secrets, including a most interesting use for fabric softener.

What’s your first beauty memory?
My grandma Jean taking me to the beauty parlor to get Shirley Temple pigtails with ringlets. I guess I sort of felt so not myself, which was an interesting feeling. Everyone telling you that you look like a sweet girl, which I wasn’t used to. But it was awkward to accept looking that way for however long it looked.

Who was your first beauty icon?
Jodie Foster, Lisa Bonet, Alyssa Milano and Madonna.

What is always in your kit?
Wella Ocean Spritz Beach Texture Hairspray and Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter.

What’s your favorite beauty hack?
Soaking wigs in fabric softener to remove the shine.

Related Videos

Which beauty trend do you not get?
Overly contoured faces.

Which discontinued product do you mourn?
Bumble and bumble hair powders. They were colored powders in white, black, red and brown in little two-ounce plastic bottles you could squeeze.

What trend do you look back on with regret?
Steam punk, glam ska (sorry, No Doubt-era Gwen Stefani) and Melrose rockabilly. It’s become watered down through the decades and has a weird canned identity I don’t like trying to figure out anymore.

What is your first go-to product?
Dr. Colbert Illumino Face Oil.

What are you currently obsessed with and why?
Eighties Ethiopian music videos on YouTube. I love dance music, and many '80s sounds we’re familiar with here in the States were happening in Ethiopia and Africa too. Just YouTube it.