Sam Villa Advises Hairdressers: Keep Breaking the Rules!

Sam Villa on stage

Lately hairdressers have been telling me that clients want a lot of different options for styling their hair. This isn’t surprising. When everything is going well and people are relaxed, they’ll do their hair the same way every day. In an economy like ours today, though, consumers want choices. Clients have a lot going on and may be job hunting or have other changes in their lives, so stylists have been asking me how to help them.

Sam Villa on stage

Sam Villa on stage

First, I always look at what’s happening in fashion. We’re seeing a lot of texture in fabrics—touch-me surfaces like silk and textured ruffles. The textures are colliding and so are the shapes, so bulky sweaters show up with chiffon skirts, and billowy skirts mix with constructed jackets. Hair is following suit with big waves, bouncing curls and textured hair on the same head as straight hair. The result is that last season’s polished looks are giving way to rougher, edgier, matte-finished styles. Hair is not too polished; it’s an unfinished, no-statement kind of look. You can leave wispy strands around the face and let the hair just fall.

Because the hair is a little messier, clients are getting just what they want—lots of styling choices. Maybe one day they want straight hair, the next day they’ll choose curly and in the evening they like it completely undone. Showing them a variety of finishes for one cut is where you can use your artistic talent. To become a more creative stylist, you have to experiment, and experimenting sometimes means breaking a few rules. I firmly believe that the industry is what it is today because we’ve broken the rules to get here. We’ve taken the time to learn the basics and then we can put as many spins on it as we like.


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When you experiment with tools that create texture, you’ll get different results depending on how you play with three components:

1. Heat, which alters the hydrogen bonds in the hair
2. Compression, which removes wrinkles and adds shine
3. Tension, which determines how stretched and straight the hair will be

Teach your clients how to use tools in unconventional ways to give them all of the choices they want from their look, and help them to understand that for these looks, product is a necessity not an option. The whole idea this season is lived-in looks with second-day sexiness. We’re redefining the classics from the days of Ava Gardner to Brigitte Bardot by adding roughed-up texture, and I think these updated looks are really going to turn heads!

- Sam Villa

sv-headshot-high-res Sam Villa has more than 25 years experience as a platform artist and educator for major salon professional companies. Part of the Redken family for the past 11 years, Sam is Redken’s Education Artistic Director and Design & Training Consultant and appears on as a spokesperson for consumer consultations. He is in constant demand at international and domestic trade shows and in-salon programs, where his progressive teaching approach enables stylists to absorb new techniques quickly and for practical use in the salon. In 2008, Sam launched his website,, along with his own brand of digital media education and styling tools for salon professionals.