The Lioness: Interview with Hairstylist Sara Osterberg.


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SARAOSTERBERGHair stylist Sara Osterberg has been in the industry for ten years working with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. I sat down with Sara this week to discuss her favorite hair products, the latest trends, her most embarrassing moment and how she got into the industry. Read on to hear what she had to say!

Tell me a little bit about yourself?
Born in Colorado. Moved to Los Angeles six years ago from Orange County. I have a beautiful daughter named Scarlet who is 17 months old. I enjoy snowboarding, surfing, going to the beach, hanging out with friends, camping, crocheting and of course styling hair!

When did you decide you wanted to be a hair stylist?
I decided I wanted to be a hair stylist very early in my childhood. I told my girlfriend Libby when I was five years old that I wanted to do hair when I grew up. From then on up until I started doing it as a profession I would cut anybody’s hair that would let me.

Where did you train?
I trained in Orange County at the Paul Mitchell School and continued my training with an apprenticeship at Vidal Sassoon. After that I continued my education in London and trained in Paris.

Who are some of your favorite clients?
Kate Hudson, January Jones, Goldie Hawn, Tia Carrere, Alanis Morisette, Nicole Scherzinger, Kurt Russell, Shannon Tweed, Cheryl Hines, Nick and Sophie Simmons and Nancy Travis.

What inspires you?
I am inspired the most by fashion, clothes, shapes and nature. There are definitely stylist that inspire me too. A great hair cutter Tim Hartley he is just amazing, Vivienne Mackinder from New York and Josh Harry who does a lot of my heros’ hair. 

What are the latest trends? Any trends for brides?
Some people still think ombre is in but right now I think the latest trend is healthy hair, natural hair although I wish it would take a turn for 60’s hair. It’s just all about natural techture, healthy and bouncy. Every bride I’m doing now is down. It used to be beach curls now it’s glamourous curls… Old Hollywood.

What are your favorite hair products? Any recommendations?
Yes, I recommend using:
Kerastase Powder Bluff, Texturizing Dry Shampoo
Oribe Superfine Hairspray, Strong Hold
Shu Uemura Shape Paste, Texture Cream
Shu Uemura Volume Maker, Texture Powder

If you are looking for good brushes I recommend using:
Mason Pearson, which are pretty popular brushes. Good for back brushing and up-do styling.
Ibiza Blonde, round brush for smooth blowout.
Olivia Garden, ceramic round brushes. Awesome for adding volume, curls, or bend.

(Super client friendly, I buy them all the time)

Has there ever been an embarrassing moment for you working in the industry?
Yes, when I was assisting I was asked to get a level 9 color which is very light. I went into the color dispensary and there was a level 6 that was upside down. I grabbed it and mixed it. The stylist that was putting the color on the client noticed the color was getting dark quickly. The stylist said “hey Sara, what did you use.”  I ran back to the dispenser and grabbed the package for her, and she said “Sara, this is not right.” She had to go back to the client and wash out her hair and strip the ladies color. In the end the client was happy. But I was still embarrassed.

Who is one person you would absolutely love to have as a client?
Jessica Biel, she’s from Colorado yo! She snowboards. She’s pretty and she has good hair, and I would like to make it even better.

How often should you get a trim?
It depends on the individual client, if you have a goal to grow your hair out or change shape a bit you may need more to work with so you may need to go a little longer. I would consult with each client individually, but generally its every 8-10 weeks for a trim. As far as getting an actual cut its just a matter of when you want a change.

Any tips on finding a good hair stylist?
The best way would be to recognize someone that has great hair on the street, and ask them where they got their hair done. Especially in LA where prices range from 30-500 dollars a hair cut- spending more money doesn’t always mean you’re going to get a great haircut.  The hairstylist has to be in tune and be passionate about what they do and keep up to date on styles.

How much is to much for a hair cut/color?
A good happy medium would be between 100 and 200 in Los Angeles. A good hair cut will last longer, so it’s a better value.

How do you know someone isn’t a good hair stylist?
If they don’t do a consultation and this is the first time they have seen you, if they aren’t interested in how much time you spend on your hair, what your lifestyle is like. They need to pay attention to what you want. If they are a good listener and communicating with you, that’s a good sign.

What is the one question people ask you the most?
Clients always ask about trends and styling. Even though most of the time they wont go with the trends. I always try to coach them as far as styling- the best products for their hair, and how to execute the looks they are going for. It’s good to give them a little control in the chair and let them try- I like to make sure they are catching on and can execute the style themselves.

What is the easiest hair style for mothers?
I think it depends on the mom’s texture. I would love to say that you can just chop it off and make it easy, but it’s not necessarily the easiest. I would take it on a mom to mom basis, decide what works best for your hair type. Fortunately right now a big trend is the “messy low ponytail.”

How often should you wash your hair?
In general people don’t need to wash their hair everyday, and shouldn’t wash their hair everyday. People will say they have such oily hair and need to wash it every day, but there are other ways to treat it and keep it healthy. The oils can actually be very beneficial to your hair keeping it healthy and shiny. At the MOST every other day, but best advice would be to go as long as possible until it stinks.

Is it important to buy the top of the line products?
It is very important. Although there are a lot of mid-range brands that are great. You definitely DO NOT want to buy Pantene or regular store bought brands. There are a lot of deterge

nts and sulfates that strip your hair. In fact I can even tell on a first time client what brand they use and I’ll call them out on it. It leaves a certain finish on the hair, which makes it more difficult to style. It’s more “straw-like.” Overall its better to buy a professional brand, but you also have to watch for counterfeit or expired products which won’t work the same way, sometimes on the internet or a drug store. The only way to guarantee the product is to buy it in a salon.

If you CAN’T afford to buy the professional brands, I highly recommend making your own shampoo at home.

Can you get your hair colored while pregnant?
There is new hair color out on the market that is supposed to be friendly for when you are pregnant. Ventilation at the salon is important. Hold out if you can at least for the first trimester. *consult your doctor as well

Any recommendations for a natural hair de-tangler?
Marshmallow Root De-tangler

  • 1 1/4 cup distilled water
  • 1/4 cup dried marshmallow root
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive or jojoba oil
  • Grapefruit seed extract or any essential oils

To Make It:

  1. Place the marshmallow root in a pot with the water and heat it for 15 to 30 minutes on low heat until it begins to thicken and form a gel. The longer it heats the thicker it will be. Make sure that you stir the mixture throughout to ensure that you have an even consistency.
  2. When your mixture is as thick as you want it to be, turn off the heat and allow it to cool.
  3. To strain it, place a knee high pany hose over a cup and pour the mixture over the pantyhose. Remove the pantyhose from the cup and squeeze it in a downward motion to strain the gel and seperate it from the dried marshmallow root.
  4. Add vinegar, oil and the grapefruit seed extract to the marshmallow root gel.
  5. You can use the gel as is to detangle provided that it is not too thick, or you can pour the gel into a spray bottle and add water until it is thin enough to spray. Remember to shake well before each use.

***Please note that this mixture must be stored in the fridge and will last for about 3 weeks.

Spit ends… What do you recommend?
Hair cuts obviously help, but if you have long hair- you will have some split ends. The best way to minimize is to protect it with a leave in conditioner, get it cut, go to a hair salon that cares about the integrity of your hair and uses colors that won’t destroy it.

How did you get to where you are today?
I got to where I am from my passion and dedication. It’s important to continue to educate myself. Constantly networking and continuing to meet new people.

What would you tell someone else, like you, who is interested in becoming a hair stylist?
I would tell somebody getting started in the industry to get involved in as much as possible while training, work for free, pimp yourself out, network, and stay modest. No matter where you are in your career you can always learn and grow.

Sara specializes in haircutting, styling and extensions.
If you live in the Los Angeles area and would like to book an appointment with Sara please contact her at Juan Juan Salon in Brentwood at 310.979.8081 or Email Her
Images by Lindsay Louise Woolf