Ursula Stephen, Celebrity Hairstylist and New Image Beauty Expert is the hairstylist of choice for many of today’s high profile celebrities, including R&B recording superstar Rihanna, platinum recording artist Keyshia Cole, Michelle Williams (of Destiny’s Child) and America’s Next Top Model Winner – Saleisha Stowers. Ursula is repeatedly requested for her expertise in “new image” hair makeovers, and for her impeccable product and styling knowledge. While her work speaks volumes for itself, Ursula has been called upon to provide expert tips and her personal “trade secrets” for many of the leading fashion and beauty publications including InStyle, Essence, Us Weekly and People Magazine.

Q: When did you begin your craft of hairstyling?
Well my high school was a beauty school- – so technically and officially I started doing hair my freshman year. It was called “Sarah J. Hale”, located in Brooklyn. It saved my life and open many doors for me.

Q: How did you get into doing hair for celebrities?
It was definitely a word of mouth situation. I had a couple of clients that worked at record labels or were in the business in some way. They basically put me on.

Q: You’re the stylist behind Rihanna’s infamous bob. Why did you decide to do something that drastic with her hair?
Because I’m drastic! LOL. Rihanna wanted a new look. And I was tired of all these artist looking the same, that’s so boring. I feel that back in the day artist took more chances with their look and I missed that. So, I decided to do the opposite. Everyone was doing long and brown, so I did short and black. I’m always changing my look so that also inspired her. Basically giving her that confidence.

Q: There have been debates about who rocked the bob first. Was there anyone in particular whose hairstyle inspired the look you gave Rihanna?
Debates?? I inspired her Bob. I’m all about a great cut and that’s been my trademark for as long as I can remember.

Q: Summer is fast and coming. What advice would you give to Clutch readers looking for a shorter look for the season? Can shorter styles look good on anyone?
Shorter styles can look great on everyone. My advice is don’t necessarily follow the trend. Find the look thats right for you. It’s like jeans low-rise… it’s not for everyone!!

Q: You’re known for your expertise in “new image” hair makeovers. Do you have to do something completely daring to someone’s hair to create a new image? How subtle can a new look be? Well you really don’t have to do something daring, it can be as subtle as cutting a bang or changing the side that you usually part your hair. Doing something opposite than what you usually do is a makeover in itself.

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Q: What products would you recommend for us ladies whom have become attached to our flat irons? (I carry mine in a holster at the hip!) Well one of my favorite products is FHI Hot Sauce. It’s a great product that restores moisture and protects hair against damaging effects of heat without weighing the hair down and smells really good too!

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Q: My hair looks like a dried-out lion’s mane when I wear it naturally curly. Is there anything I could do or use in my hair to tame the beast on my head? The trick to taming curly hair is applying product to the hair when it is still wet. And the best products are leave – in conditioners. One of my favorite products are TIGI Bedhead leave – in conditioner (for curls) and another is Atone with Nature. I like leave – in’s that cling to the hair without weighing it down. And these two are great for that — just the right amount of muscle.

Q: What hairstyles can we expect to see for Spring/Summer? Are bangs still popular, can we anticipate seeing more sleek middle parts?
Short hair will still be popular this summer. With combinations of heavy blunt bangs (old school), sexy side swept bangs. I also see middle parts coming back in a big way, but shoulder length nothing too long.

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Q: Where else can we see your hairstyling finesse? Who are you currently styling?
Well as you know Rihanna is one of my main clients, Michelle Williams — we just shot her music video. I also do lots of beauty stories with Essence and makeovers.

Q: What’s the most rewarding and challenging aspect of your career as a celebrity hairstylist?
As its always been making people feel good about themselves. Seeing that smile as though a miracle has just happened!! And also having my work broadcasted for the world to see:)

Q: Lastly, what tricks do you live by? What are your personal trade secrets?
Well I can’t tell u everything, [LOL] but heres a good one. Lipgloss on fly aways!

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  • Could we please know the exact colour Rihanna has on her hair as we are getting lots of requests for it in our salon. Thanks!!!! Good work Ursula!!

  • Sonya

    On 5 Mar 2011 I colored my hair black (Clairol). I never used that brand before. Then on 19 March 2011 I put an Olive Oil relaxer in my hair. My hair fell out in the middle & the back…BAD!!! Anywho I did some research & purchased a few products to help strengthen my hair & help it start to grow back. I wash my hair twice a week. On Wednesday’s I wash my hair with Matrix Biolage Antidandruff Shampoo then I put an Aphogee Keratin Zmin Reconstructor & I leave it in for 2min then wash it out.

    On Sundays, I put an Aphogee Two-Step Protein treatment in. It smells really BAD but it’s supposed to work. I have to put it in, sit under the dryer & allow it to dry. It gets REALLY hard. I rinse it out after. Then I use a Nioxin for Fine Hair 3 part treatment. I wash my hair with Nioxin Cleanser Shampoo & Scalp Therapy Conditioner. I set under the dryer with the Nioxin Scalp Activating treatment. It makes my hair feel really soft & bouncy. I haven’t put a relaxer or color in my hair since 19 March 2011. I made myself a wig to avoid putting any heat to my head too. I’m trying really hard to treat it. My question to you is am I using the right stuff & am I doing the right thing?

    Also, I’m going to Italy 1-21 August. I can’t wear a wig there so I want to put a relaxer & a rinse in my hair at the end of July. Is that too soon after all the damage my hair has been through? The relaxer I bought was CHI Deep Brilliance Sensitive Scalp No Lye Calcium Hydroxide Conditioning relaxer kit. Please look it up & tell me what you think of the relaxer.

    Please get back to me soon. I really need some advice on this.

    • Stel

      Hello Sonya. You have been using some very strong chemicals on your hair without professional supervision. I strongly advise you do not put any other products on your hair. That means no colour, no relaxer. By all means continue to use your treatments. My advice is to walk into a reputable salon and get their advice. You can get advice for free. Any colour should be a semi permanent but i doubt a relaxer can be used. It is impossible to say exactly without seeing your hair so you must go into a salon.

  • Sonya

    On 5 Mar 2011 I colored my hair black (Clairol). I never used that brand before. Then on 19 March 2011 I put an Olive Oil relaxer in my hair. My hair fell out in the middle & the back…BAD!!! Anywho I did some research & purchased a few products to help strengthen my hair & help it start to grow back. I wash my hair twice a week. On Wednesday’s I wash my hair with Matrix Biolage Antidandruff Shampoo then I put an Aphogee Keratin Zmin Reconstructor & I leave it in for 2min then wash it out.

    On Sundays, I put an Aphogee Two-Step Protein treatment in. It smells really BAD but it’s supposed to work. I have to put it in, sit under the dryer & allow it to dry. It gets REALLY hard. I rinse it out after. Then I use a Nioxin for Fine Hair 3 part treatment. I wash my hair with Nioxin Cleanser Shampoo & Scalp Therapy Conditioner. I set under the dryer with the Nioxin Scalp Activating treatment. It makes my hair feel really soft & bouncy. I haven’t put a relaxer or color in my hair since 19 March 2011. I made myself a wig to avoid putting any heat to my head too. I’m trying really hard to treat it. My question to you is am I using the right stuff & am I doing the right thing?

    Also, I’m going to Italy 1-21 August. I can’t wear a wig there so I want to put a relaxer & a rinse in my hair at the end of July. Is that too soon after all the damage my hair has been through? The relaxer I bought was CHI Deep Brilliance Sensitive Scalp No Lye Calcium Hydroxide Conditioning relaxer kit. Please look it up & tell me what you think of the relaxer.

    Please get back to me soon. I really need your advice on this.

  • Hi Ursula I spoke with you On Saturday call me when you’re in L.A.again