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Beauty Insider: Rebecca Brent of Willis York

By Nicole Saunders

Beauty Insider: Rebecca Brent of Willis York

We catch up with Rebecca Brent, owner of Wellington’s iconic Willis York salon and the winner of New Zealand Hairdresser of the Year at the last L’Oréal Colour Trophy, about trends, her must-have hair saviours and how to save your tresses from the winter elements.

Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to since you were named New Zealand Hairdresser of the Year at the L’Oréal Colour Trophy Awards.

It seems so long ago now. After winning the award I focused my attention on teaching L’Oréal education because of my love of colour! This found me travelling internationally for L’Oréal as well as nationally. I just want to live an inspiring life and help others along the way. I also did a lot of personal travel, being out of the salon really helps you gain perspective on what your point of difference is, and also makes you realise that what we do in NZ is right up there with the best overseas. This year I have had a major life turning point with my beautiful son heading off to art school in Dunedin so I have been concentrating on growing the next generation of superstar hairstylists. Getting two young Style & Colour Trophy colourist finalists out of ten means I must be doing something right. I have also had a sabbatical year from education to re-educate myself with overseas courses, creative work, learning photography, learning about flowers, and having the space to connect with my friends and travel more. I am a firm believer in always checking in with yourself but to lead others you must do so by example.

What exciting changes have you noticed happening in the industry over the past few years?

People are getting more adventurous with their colours. Hair products continue to get better for the environment and for humans. With the launch of a silent blowdryer, equipment is getting exciting to use, and this amazing invention will protect our precious hearing! A major one for me is the looming end to fast fashion, or at least people are becoming more aware of the transparency of a garment, it’s a start! Bespoke brands are making a big noise in our industry as they have the ability to change fast and attract a new type of renegade young slashie session stylist who are using the powerful internet as exposure, and creating their own brand. I am all about this and breed it in my salon. You want to work with young people who are curious about the world and have their fingers on the pulse, it is a major key to staying young yourself.

What are the three hair products you couldn’t live without? 

– Powder dust. I have the finest hair on the planet so this magic powder gives me volume especially for messy hair ups. I particularly like LOréal Professionnel Tecni.Art Super Dust.

– L’Oréal Professionnel Infinium Hairspray ­ the go to for all my editorial work. It’s light but strong all at once. No one likes concrete hair.

– L’Oréal Professionnel série expert Vitamino Color A.Ox Colour Radiance Protection; Perfecting Shampoo and Conditioner. If you are going to invest all that money into a hair colour then you just have to use the best haircare to protect it and make it last.


What advice can you give someone whose hair is suffering from exposure to the winter elements?

I always treat winter as a time to get hair back to condition after the harsh New Zealand summer. Book in for regular treatments with your stylist, take 40 minutes every couple of weeks to have a head massage and divine treatment and blow dry. Good for your soul and for your hair! Listen to your stylist, they know your hair probably better than you and have expert knowledge on what products are best for your hair. For me prevention is the cure. Protect and love your hair.

Are there any new and exciting colour and cut trends we should be considering?

Curls are back! So is the fringe, whether it’s a 90’s baby bang or a long French-esque ‘It Girl’ style. Braids of all shapes and sizes are always cool in my world and the 90’s continue to dominate hair looks especially the “home cut, don’t go to the hairdresser” look (even though a professional cuts it, kind of like the no makeup look). Even a super short shaved head for the brave is in this season. The lob will go back to a blunter cut but have a polished feel to it. It’s about finding what you love not following trends! Colours will be delicious and quite simple. Think hazelnut, rose quartz or opal tones, “ronze” (red and bronze tones), babylights and beautiful natural hair. A big one for me is natural grey. Cool girls are embracing this.

What are some quick ways to reinvent your hair without opting for a dramatic change in colour or length?

Cut a fringe if your hair allows, or change up your usual parting. Try wearing it wavy if it’s straight or straight if it’s curly. If you are blonde, get a coloured conditioner for opal tones that wash out the next day. Learn some hair up techniques, ask your stylist to show you what to do. There are only two tricks to hair ups, prepping the hair correctly and learning how to put a bobby pin in properly. It is up to you to change and try new things. A good colour and cut takes years off you and boosts your confidence.

Can you give us some clues as to what you think we should expect from this year’s competition?

Judging by the diversity of the finalists, not really! I have my favourites in this year’s competition and could be slightly biased to wavy hair and metallic bronze copper tone looks but the finalists are all so beautiful. It’s all so different and that’s the beauty of L’Oréal colour, it is the best in the world, and it gives stylists the ability to create a myriad of colour on clients.




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