Celebrity makeup artist Jillian Dempsey recently stepped back into hairstyling with a new men’s product: Roadie, a twist stick pomade. With her husband Patrick Dempsey and two adorable twin sons fronting the line, the pomade has a wide appeal (Jillian uses it on her own hair, too). We caught up with the beauty pro on her reentry into the hair game, how to best use the product, and if there’s more to come from Jillian Dempsey Men.
You’re best known as a celebrity makeup artist, but also have a background in hairstyling. Tell us more!
When I started in the industry, music videos were huge. You needed to do both hair and makeup—it wasn’t a choice. In the late ‘90s, I had a beauty parlor in West Hollywood called Deluxe Beauty Parlor. It was super trendy, almost like The Viper Room but a salon. We had everybody from Patricia Arquette, Courtney Love, Johnny Knoxville, Dave Navarro, Drew Barrymore, Reese Witherspoon, Christina Applegate, Stone Temple Pilots. It was a popular, trendy spot to stop off, and it had a hidden door.
I started to excel a little more in the freelance world and had to choose between hair and makeup. I chose makeup because I love color and I wanted to paint.
I still cut and color hair, but I don’t do it in the salon environment. Unfortunately for me, I’m like a haircut on demand at my house at a little parlor in the back[Laughs].
Taking new clients at this parlor?
Oh god, please no! I don’t advertise it, but I do my entire family’s haircolor and cut. My 12-year-old twin sons each have had no less than 30 different haircolors. I’ve really let them experiment. It’s an expression. They show me a picture and I create the picture or them. It’s a bonding moment! It’s not your mom taking out the kitchen scissors and giving you a choppy bowl haircut. Your mom actually has her cosmetology license and she studied coloring and cutting so I can actually do it.
So what made you get back into the hair game and launch a product?
When I owned my salon back in the day, I used a pomade called Tancho Tique Stick. I loved the idea that it was in a stick. It’s a convenience factor. I always wanted to make it, even back then. I continue to do my husband’s hair, and on set I have tons of men that I love to give grooming tips and recommend products to. It’s one of those missing products out there. It’s a clean twist on a classic pomade.
What’s behind the name Roadie?
It’s called the Roadie because it’s smaller—I already have a larger jar size in the works. I wanted to get the stick out fast because it’s such a great traveler. It’s one you can put in your Dopp Kit and it’s easy for hairdressers. I’ve been working on the formula and the scent for at least a year, possibly two.
What other elements make it different?
It’s a semi matte finish. If you think about Murray’s, which is a really old pomade, it’s super shiny and greasy. This pomade has more of a tacky texture. You definitely need to roll it out first, warm it up on your hands, and then let it do its magic. You can use it on your eyebrows, your beard—it’s the everything stick.
Any styling tricks for using Roadie?
Put the pomade in your fingertips first—I think people forget that your fingertips really are one of the best styling tools you could ever ask for. Think of them as bristles to the brush. That determines how the texture lays into your hair. Also, if you want to rope your hair out and separate it and twist it down to lay the cuticle down and pinch the ends, you can do that. You can scrunch it up. You can make a fist with it. Once you get it in your hair it becomes more pliable and bendy. It smells a little more modern than what’s out there. It’s not overly masculine or feminine—it’s the between moment.
How involved was your husband, Patrick Dempsey, in the product development?
Patrick largely has been involved the process of formulating this from the scent to the feeling to how it acts, to maybe the reason why I did abandon the first packaging style I had already purchased. If he’s going to pit his name and face on it, he has to be the one that loves it.
Do you plan to expand the Jillian Dempsey Men brand?
I want to roll out more for men, I like to be a little more aware of what I’m putting out there. If you make a lot of product and they don’t perform or serve any need for a consumer, then you’re being quote wasteful. So it has to be the right followup to what the pomade is. The other part of this is I would like to open the doors for salons.
This seems like something women can also use.
For women who get their hair straightened, this is great for the tiny flyaways on the part line. Warm it up between your hands, then press it down gently over those little sprouty guys that are so annoying. It places them right into the rest of your hair, without having to distribute the product throughout your hair. I have overly-processed-on-purpose blonde hair and I like to pinch it on my ends and rope it up and do this thing called the pancake. I warm it up on my hands and pick a flap of my hair and pancake it—it’s kind of like spanking your hair. As long as the product is warmed up you can rope it, twist it, mold it and do whatever.
The biggest compliment for me will be when hairdressers use it. It’s great, as an artist, to get that kind of support, to have Chris McMillan and others in the industry to give that compliment. I like when artists support other artists.