Stylist Nick Arrojo doesn't believe in "curl-only" specialists.
"Good hairdressers can do everything," says Arrojo, who has curly hair himself. "I believe I should be able to make anybody look good."
He has been doing just that throughout his career as a stylist and on TLC's "What Not To Wear" makeover television show where he serves as one of the show's "style gurus."
He grew up in England, beginning his career in Manchester at Vidal Sassoon and then with the Wella team. His work caught the attention of Bumble & Bumble in 1994, and he took the post of director of education at the company's New York salon. Three years later, he teamed up with stylist Rodney Cutler with the Arrojo Cutler Salon and Arrojo became global master for Aveda.
In September 2001, he realized his life-long dream of opening his own salon, the Arrojo Studio, where he works on such clients as Minnie Driver, Liev Schreiber and supermodel Melissa Keller. He regularly is featured in magazines such as Elle, Allure and Jane. He was selected as a judge for the Elite Model competition.
Arrojo is a big proponent of letting your hair do what it wants to do naturally.
"It's better than trying to make it something it's not," he says. "Whenever I'm thinking about a style for a person, I'm thinking about what their hair is telling me to do. If you work with your natural texture, you'll get the best results."
Today's culture is definitely more curl friendly, Arrojo says. When he came to New York in 1994, nobody was wearing their hair curly. Everybody wanted straight, silky hair. But in today's increasingly diverse culture, texture is much more accepted.
"More people are enjoying working with natural curl," he says. "There is much more natural hair around then there was 10 years ago. People are much more confident sharing their uniqueness rather than being someone they're not. It's better for everybody. Curly is beautiful."
It's an attitude he brings to "What Not to Wear." While many makeover shows think curly hair is something to be fixed, straightening every ringlet and kink, Arrojo often works with the person's natural texture. Even when he straightens a curly girl's hair, he gives a cut that is versatile enough to be worn straight or curly.
"Most of the curlies on the show are amazed at how easy it can be, and how good their hair can look," Arrojo says.
Arrojo says his work on the show is incredibly rewarding . He has been a part of dramatic transformations that have changed lives. He especially enjoys the moment when he spins the chair around and the person sees the new look for the first time.
"When they first see themselves, it's a shock," he says. "Then you slowly see the winds of change appearing -- you can see their confidence level and perception change. It's absolutely awesome."
The day before we spoke with him, Arrojo had done a makeover on a woman who had never had a haircut.
"She went from plain to sexy," he says. "If I can enable someone to have a better look, I feel like I've achieved a great deal."
Arrojo says he's given total freedom to create a look for the people who appear on the show. They come to him after they've spent two days with fashion experts Clinton Kelly and Stacy London, who give them a style makeover. It's up to Arrojo and makeup artist Carmindy to complete the "magic." He feels his work on the show is one of the most crucial elements because "you can't take the haircut off."
"It's much more of your identity," he says.
One of the most rewarding parts of the show is the feedback he gets from hairdressers, who enjoy watching how he communicates his ideas. Good communication between the stylist and the client is crucial when it comes to a good haircut. A client may want a style that's not going to work with their hair type. A stylist needs the confidence to know what they can and can't achieve, and must know how to get that message across to the client.
That may be especially true with curly hair, because working with curls is different than working with straight hair. Curly hair expands, while straight hair tends to fall. The cut needs to be more technical, he says. But then it must be cut visually.
When Arrojo was trained to cut hair, he says he wasn't allowed to use styling products, and he has integrated that into the way he cuts hair today. The hair is cut wet and allowed to dry, doing it what it naturally wanted to do. Then, the hair is re-rinsed and reset.
When he designed his new Arrojo product line, he says he designed it with his own fine curls, as well as his wife's curls, in mind. The line includes a Styling Creme, Curl Creme, Defrizz Serum and Volume Foam. For definition, he recommends the Curl Creme. For finer curls, the Styling Creme and Volume Foam provide thickness and volume. He recommends the Serum for those who straighten their curls. His Daily Conditioner is a good leave-in product.
"With the Styling Creme, Curl Creme and Conditioner, you have something for every type of curl," he says. "You can layer the products depending on what you need."
In addition to developing his own products, Arrojo is branching out into other areas as well. He is working on a book that will come out in fall 2008 called "Great Hair," which will be loaded with useful information on how to work with your hair to make it look its best -- from the cut to the care. He says it will have a lot of great information about curls.
"It's all about how to look at yourself so you can always have great hair," Arrojo says.
Nick's Mane Advice
Don't Get Obsessed About What Cut is Right for Your Face Shape: It doesn't matter unless our shape is crystal clear.
Don't Fight Nature: The further away you are from what's natural, the harder it will be to make your hair look good.
Determine if You've Got a Good Cut or Not: How do you do that? Ask yourself two questions. One, did my cut last for a minimum of four weeks? Has anyone told me my hair looks great? If the answer is no to both questions, start looking for a new hairdresser or discuss the situation with the current stylist.
Length Matters: Anything below your shoulders won't change your face shape.
Don't Wear Your Hair Too Long if it's Fine: You'll only play into the fineness, the longer it is, the thinner it will feel.
Avoid a Center Part: You don't want a strong line on your scalp. Anything symmetrical will highlight the asymmetry in your face. Do an asymmetrical side part or a zig-zag part.
If You Have Curly Hair You Can Have Bangs: Go for longer ones that caress your face and fall around your eyes to create to create more romance. Don't straighten your bands and leave the rest of your hair curly. Mixing textures is the worst.
— From "Beautified" by Kyan Douglas