Celebrity hairstylist Mark Townsend braids it up
Rachel McAdams, the Olsen twins, Christina Aguilera: celebrity hairstylist Mark Townsend has coiffed them all, so who better to ask about spring-summer hair trends? Thankfully, he was more than happy to oblige. During a sit-down interview at the iDaburn Hair Salon in Yaletown—where Townsend was recently working on one of Dove’s Real Women campaigns—he didn’t skip a beat before dishing on his number-one hair obsession right now: behold the beloved braid.
“It really is the biggest thing you can do,” says, Townsend, who credits The Hunger Games with starting this trend. After all, the film’s lead character, played by Jennifer Lawrence, rocks a plait like nobody’s business. “The movie was so huge and it’s such a great hairstyle. And it’s just so versatile, so it’s perfect for spring and summer.”
And he should know. Ever since he toured with Lawrence to all her Hunger Games premieres, he’s become somewhat of a braid connoisseur.
“I loved watching fans show up in all their different versions of braids,” says Townsend. “It was actually really fun and inspiring. We’d kind of look around and be like, ‘Oooh, I love that braid over here.’ ”
But the braid is not just for teen-lit fans. Nor is it just for people with all-one-length hair. Unlike the tightly knit braids of yesteryear, today’s intertwined strands should be anything but perfect. So if you have pieces popping out of formation, don’t sweat it.
“I like it when that happens,” says Townsend, who isn’t just good with a round brush. The highly personable stylist is also gifted at instantly befriending people. (No wonder stars keep coming back to him for more.) “If you did a side braid, you could even purposely shake it out a little bit and let some of the pieces fall out. I think that looks beautiful. Or you could loop it back up into a side bun and then you’d have all those layers coming loose, which makes it look really supermodern and fresh.”
And if you don’t know how to do a French braid, no worries.
“Save the French braid for a special occasion” says Townsend, who does a lot of looks for red carpets events and weddings. “You can do a regular side braid within seconds, which is good especially on a bad hair day.”
Also hot this season are hair accessories, says the L.A.–based hairstylist.
“I’m obsessed right now with the Chanel pearl bobby pins,” admits Townsend. “I mean I’m not going to spend $600 for four bobby pins, but I can go to the craft store and make ’em myself or go to the beauty supply store and get the 99-cent version.”
He suggests randomly sticking bobby pins right on top of a side bun. He’s also big on using a jewelled barrette to hold back the heavier section of a side-parted lid.
Product-wise, Townsend is all about dry shampoo, so long as it’s starch-based (as oppose to powder-based). For him, it’s revolutionized the way we can lift limp hair. And for women who couldn’t be arsed to style their own hair with salon tools, this really is good news.
“It gives you that second-day texture and it’s also an amazing thing for instant body,” he says. “Women are constantly asking me ‘How can I get volume in my hair without a blow dryer and round brush?’ And for years, I’d just say, ‘Pray, I guess, because that’s the only way you’re gonna get it, especially if you want it to last.’ ”