In Conversation With Samantha Cusick

This month, we're In Conversation With hair extraordinaire, Samantha Cusick.

One of the hottest names in hairdressing, Sam runs her own independent salon in the heart of London’s charming Notting Hill and in just over three years, has cemented herself as the queen bee of balayage with a cult following to boot.

No doubt you’ll have seen her perfect beach waves and signature colour transformations all over Instagram and daydreamed about what kind of magic she could work with your own mane. Form an orderly queue!

From the statement wallpaper to the glitter-topped Mermaid Martinis, you can tell this is a woman on a mission to make having your hair did one hell of an experience. Plus, she just so happens to be bloody lovely too.

We got her in the chair to chat about her hairdressing roots and career highlights so far!

How did you start out?

I started out in my home town of Nottingham, where after my A levels I was all set to go off to uni to study criminology but I couldn’t face more academia so instead opted to take a year out to try something different. I had always LOVED the idea of Hairdressing (my Mum is a hairdresser) and I was obsessed with the TV programme The Salon which was like a reality tv show based in a Salon, so I enrolled in a full-time hairdressing course at college and never looked back!

Describe yourself in 3 words:

Driven, Enthusiastic and self-critical.

What’s the biggest misconception about your job?

I think the biggest misconception about my job and hairdressers, in general, is that we’re ‘stupid’ and that hairdressing is an easy option. People think that my job ends after a hair cut or colour, but there is so much more. To get to the point I am at has taken continuous learning, sacrifice and development in all aspects of not only work but life. 

What’s the best part of your job?

There are so many AMAZING parts fo my job. 

I LOVE owning and running my Salon, watching it grow and being apart of the team there makes me want to go to work every day.

Being able to take my dog, Sid, with me is pretty awesome too.

What’s the worst part of your job?

It’s kind of the other side of my answer on “what’s the best part”, the worst part is that the Salon is all-consuming.

It’s great as I said, watching something you’ve created grow, but the downside is the pressure and responsibility of making sure it continues. It can be anything from choosing the perfect coffee cups and furniture to making sure people continue to get paid for the job they love doing and protecting the environment we have created at the Salon.

Fave celebrity hairstyle of all time?

OK, so for me the Olsen Twins have epitomised cool girl hair. From their effortless colour to how on earth they make greasy hair look cool af.

What gives a hair salon cult status?

I’m not really sure, broadly, I think it’s the drive to stand out and try to do something different, whilst having a clear message on why you approach your hairdressing in a particular way.

It’s a difficult one to answer I guess, as I think the only ones that did achieve cult status did it so long ago…we really have to go back to the 1960’s to try and answer it.

Hair trend you wish never happened?

The Mullet? What even was that!

What’s the one thing you wish you knew then about your career, that you know now?

For years I worked at salons that I hated, from the way they interacted with the clients to the clicky bitchy, gossip groups that would call me a ‘one trick pony’ when clients would seek me out for my balayage work. I use to get so upset, I wish I could go back and tell myself not to let it bother me and that it will be different, you can make it different.

If you weren’t making people’s hair look sh*t hot, what would you be doing? (other careers)

One of the parts of open the salon I enjoyed the most was choosing all the interiors. I love doing it so much that I have renovated the salon twice already! I am just starting to plan the look and feel of the second location and it is honestly the most fun, so to answer the question if I had to do something else for a career I would LOVE it to be an interior designer!

Do you have a career highlight / pinch-me moment so far?

I remember seeing GHD at Coachella on social media in 2017 and I said to my fiancé Greg I would LOVE to do that! Two years later I was so lucky to get signed to GHD as a Creative Artist and they asked me to go and style hair at Coachella! That for me was a pinch-me moment!

Balayage, baby lights, low lights – what do they all mean?

This is something I get asked a lot so I wrote a blog post that explains the difference between highlights and balayage, read it here.

Top tip for anyone nervous to go for a change at the hair salon?

Change can be terrifying no matter what it is but for some reason when it comes to changing our hair that can instil fear like nothing else. Before you book your appointment to either change your haircut or revamp your colour I always recommend booking in for a consultation. Most salons offer this service totally complimentary and it’s a great way to chat through with a hairdresser exactly what you want to change.

This was you can get a professional opinion on if this would suit you if it is even possible to achieve if it’s not what can you do and ask all the question about maintenance so you can make an informed decision and become your own #HairGoals.

What are some of the top hair trends you’ve noticed at the moment?

I love that bobs are still at the top of the hair trend list! (Handy as I have just cut mine). A lot of our clients at SCL are opting for a stronger face frame with their balayage or highlights which  I am so here for. 

Do you have any personal hair faux pas? Spill the beans…

OMG HAVE I! As a trainee I was always messing about with my hair, trying new things I had just been taught, from neon orange hair to cutting the hair around my crown so short it would stand up on end it there were many horrific looks I will not be repeating that’s for sure! It’s always funny when Facebook memories pop up and my hair in some of them is bad! 

What are your go-to tips for a healthy mane?

OLAPLEX! I am such a champion of Olaplex, it has honestly changed my hair and in turn my client’s hair.  Olaplex is a bond multiplier with a patented active ingredient, Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate. It works on a molecular level to seek out broken bonds in the hair that are caused by chemical, thermal, and mechanical damage and repair them! Make sure that your colourist uses Olaplex in your colour services especially lightening service and you’ll notice a difference immediately.

Top 3 products we need in our hair routine?

Davines Oi All In One Milk! – this is a little miracle product, heat protector, de-tangler and leave-in conditioner all in one spray! I use it every day and make me not dread brushing my hair after washing!

GHD Platinum Plus Stylers – These are my go too’s for creating any sort of wave or curl in the hair! The technology in them ensures that they never get too hot and stay at 185 degrees which is optimum for styling the hair whilst not damaging it or stripping hair colour. I LOVE them.

Dry Shampoo – I can not live without dry shampoo. I would have to wash my hair every day if it wasn’t for dry shampoo. I also use it as a texture spray when I want super beachy waves. 

How often should we actually be washing our hair?

This does differ massively from person to person, some lucky people can wash just once a week and others like me have to wash our hair every other day and dry shampoo on the non-wash day. Washing less often is better for the hair, I would just say no more frequently than every other day.

How often would you recommend getting your hair cut for optimum hair health?

If you are maintaining, for example, a blunt bob you should aim to get a hair cut every 6-8 weeks. If you are growing your hair you should aim to get a trim every 8-12 weeks.

Top tips for longer-lasting hair colour?

– Use a sulphate free shampoo and conditioner. Sulphates can pull the colour out of the hair very quickly. I recommend Davines Oi shampoo and conditioner to the majority of my clients.

– Use a heat protector before heat styling your hair, this includes blowdrying too.

– Avoid washing your hair in super hot water. Hot water can cause your colour to fade much faster.

Top tips for a salon-worthy blow-dry at home?

GHD has just launched their new helios hairdryer and it is honestly the best dryer I have ever used. It makes blowdrying your own hair super quick and easy making getting a salon-worthy blowdry at home a lot easier.

My other tips for achieving the perfect blowdry on your own hair:

– Prep your hair before you dry. Using the right products for your hair is vital to achieving the finish you want from your blowdry. For example, if your hair is prone to frizz apply a smoothing blow-dry balm or if our hair always seems to lack volume apply a mouse before drying.

– Add a nozzle to your dryer so you always have maximum control over the air-flow of your dryer and you can ensure the air always blows from the root of the hair to the tips to keep the cuticle layer fo the hair laying flat for salon shiny hair.

How often should you use purple shampoo on blonde hair?

This is quite dependent on the tone of blonde you like. For example, if you like a very ashy, silver-toned blonde you’re going to want to use your purple shampoo more frequently if not every wash. If you prefer a more creamy blonde then once a week is plenty. I really like the Redken Blondage range of purple shampoos and conditioners because they keep the hair super bright and do not dull the blonde like some other purple shampoos I have had used. 

I would ultimately recommend using it when you notice your hair looks a bit too yellow then you can’t really go wrong.

What do you think is best for curls, straighteners or curling wands?

This is a super hard one for me to answer to be honest because I love different tools for different looks! But if I had to choose 1 it would be my GHD platinum Plus Straighteners as you can create most styles with them. They are so versatile and I know if I have those in my kit bag I can create pretty much any look I need to.

Short or long hair? Blunt Mid Lengths.
Blonde or brunette? Blonde
Straight or wavy? Wavy
Bangs or no bangs? Grown Out bangs
Up or down? Down
You have 5 minutes to do your hair… what do you do? GO! Low pony with a giant scrunchie or my new Fendi hair clip (so extra).

Find the Samantha Cusick London Salon on Instagram here, her personal account here, and book in for your hair transformation over on their website here.

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