Just before the U.S. Open wraps today with the men’s final match between Djokovic and Nadal, we snuck in some time with the official hairstylist for the tournament, Julien Farel. For seven years, Farel and his team have been offering their services in the official player salon at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York. Here, he shares with us his tricks for keeping the players looking like aces through grueling, multiple-hour matches.
So you set up a salon on site for the players. What kind of services do you offer? “There are over 500 players and they all have access to any kind of services that they want. At Arthur Ashe Stadium, we cannot do any color or chemical treatments but if they need any kind of other services: hair cut, blow dry, manicure, pedicure, eyebrow waxing, tweezing or makeup, they can come in and get it done.”
And how does the styling work? Do the players tell you what they want or do they let you have some creativity with it? “It depends. If they go on camera, they will come to get a quick braid or ponytail and sometimes a touchup for makeup. If they are playing, they usually skip the makeup. If not, sometimes we reopen the salon just for the biggest players. Sometimes you have to drop what you’re doing to just go and take care of them, especially the well-ranked players.”
We’ve noticed a lot of braided hairstylists on the women this year. Are braids a big trend right now and what’s the trick to getting the look right?
“It is a very good style for tennis because it locks all the hair into place. For the U.S. Open, we use our anti-aging hair care technology and our styling products, which have UV-protection [Farel launched a 21 SKU product line back in 2011 available at dermstore.com]. So for a braid, we often apply some products on the hair before they go into the game to protect their hair. After the game, they sometimes come in because they get sunburned and we apply Julien Farel Haircare Vitamin Calm ($43, dermstore.com), which is a great product to repair sunburn because it immediately nourishes the scalp. It has anti-inflammatory ingredients, like algae extract and vitamin E to help replenish vital nutrients and combat harmful UV-rays. But because of the humidity and the heat, a lot of them are coming into get some gel or gloss to lock the hair in place, so in that case we do a ponytail or a braid out of the ponytail.”
It has been awfully humid for most of the Open. What’s your best tip for blocking humidity out of your hair?
“Yea, we use an anti-frizz balm [Julien Farel Haircare Zero Frizz Relaxing Balm ($32, dermstore.com)]. We offer that to make sure we can help to protect the hair. For me, it’s really about protecting the hair in every way we can so by moisturizing, making sure the hair feels better, to be moisturized from the end to the root or by having something where the hair is going to be protected from the sun.”
These matches can last for hours so what’s your secret for getting the styles to last?
“Well, if it’s a case of someone like Nadal who is wearing a bandana, or others are wearing bobby pins and some hair bands, or some ponytails and some braids and the reason is because these things help to lock the hair into place. So if you’re winning, you go on camera right away and you still look good because after the players finish the match, they’re not going to come to the salon to get their hair done because the people, especially the press, want them to comment right as they are on the moment. They don’t want you to wait to think about it. They want to feel the emotion.”