Now a fashion week regular at the shows in London, Paris and New York with fashion houses such as Burberry, DKNY, Isabel Marant, Hermes, Preen and Betsy Johnson, Nicci Welsh started climbing up the tough beauty ladder 20 years ago as a hairdresser. Her unique flair for the aesthetic in any context and extreme versatility in applied techniques has given her a career that only few dare dream of. One that combines the field of high fashion, editorial, film, TV and celebrity work at the highest international level as a session hair stylist and make-up artist.
She has made up some of the world’s most famous faces including Paris Hilton, Cheryl Cole, Mel C and Robbie Williams and got her break styling hair for one of the most iconic illustrations ever made for Pink Floyds collective works “The Back Catalogue”.
Nicci also imparts her knowledge on hair, make-up, beauty and skincare in a monthly column for Danish beauty magazine Skøn; she has been a regular member of the judging panel for the Danish Beauty Awards for 5 years and she is the founder and brain behind her Make-up & Hair Academy, which teaches new talent the profession from the bottom up. Welsh is also an Oribe educator - read about her connection with this prestigious brand below.
MODERN SALON: How long have you been in the beauty industry?
NICCI WELSH: It feels like all of my life. My mother is a hairdresser and bought her first hair salon when I was nine years old. I would go there as often as she would let me, as I loved to see the transformations and listen to the chit chat. It’s the only thing I have ever wanted to do. I started my education more than 30 years ago. I feel very grateful that I still love it as much today.
MS: What’s your favorite hairstyling/hair coloring technique?
NW: The Scandiwave is my all time favorite technique. Living in Denmark we have a minimalist approach to hair, so I needed a technique that was quick and had an undone finish. When the big brand flat iron hit the UK I was one of the first to embrace it, and I’ve been using it for many years. I created all the textures they showed, but I needed something different for Scandinavia. I wanted a wave without volume, so I started to tap the hair into the iron giving me what we now call the Scandiwave. I’ve been using the technique for 10 years and been teaching it at my academy in Copenhagen for the last eight years.
MS: What does it mean to be an Oribe educator, in your own words?
NW: Being an Oribe educator and part of the U.S. team is so inspiring. I get to work with some amazingly talented people and fulfill my passion to share knowledge. I wrote my first “how to” guide for a local newspaper one year after finishing beauty school and shortly after I was teaching the other stylists in the salon. Working on a global scale to share knowledge and learn from my colleagues is a dream come true for me.
MS: What’s the best thing you’ve learned from a mentor?
NW: My mum has been the guiding star in my career, as well as my life, and she always taught me that there is nothing that I can’t do if I put my mind to it. It has served me well. I’m living in a very small country in Europe and talking with one of the biggest hair magazines in the world. I’m working for a global brand and I have my own school in Copenhagen. I also get to work as a session stylist and makeup artist. The impossible is possible if you want it enough. Thanks mum.
MS: What do you see trending in hairstyling/hair coloring right now?
NW: In Scandinavia the trend is effortless, beautiful hair that looks like you haven’t tried too hard.
MS: Who would you love to makeover?
NW: I am more of a translator of looks than a stylist who does makeovers. I work on the way my client is feeling first—listening to them and reading between the lines. Then I create a style based on what I see and hear.
MS: What’s your beauty must?
NW: Primers for your face and hair. Adding moisture to the hair evens out the porosity and will give an even distribution of styling products. Most of us need it from the mid lengths to the ends. Oribe’s Foundation Mist is perfect for this.
MS: What’s your go-to tool or product?
NW: My mini brush kit. These are small, travel-size makeup brushes that I designed and produce. I know this may sound strange, but I use them for hair and makeup. As a session stylist I have to pay close attention to details and my small makeup brushes are perfect for this.
MS: What’s your favorite Oribe product?
NW: If you sent me to a desert island and I could only take one product it would be Maximista Thickening Spray. It can be used for every style; it will tame the most unruly hair into a perfect ponytail; it will add volume to any blowout. I use it unconventionally to spray onto waves to give separation and texture. It is my must-have product.
MS: Why should stylists choose Oribe products?
NW: They deliver the best results every time. Oribe products give you a wearable wardrobe of textures that will suit every client and help you create every texture you need. They are amazing when layered on top of each other or when used alone. A stylist has every possibility at their fingertips when using Oribe. You become inspired to try something new as they products can be trusted and make the stylist feel secure.
MS: Are you performing at any upcoming shows or teaching any classes? If so, which ones? What will the topic/s be?
NW: We are still planning for the fall, so nothing is set yet. In general, my classes at my studio in Copenhagen translate the session world into salon-friendly styles, and the topic is always wearable textures, which is always usable for the stylist.
MS: What are some words of wisdom that you live by that you think would be inspirational for other hairdressers?
NW: If you dream it, you can have it. I truly believe that we set our own path. The journey may be tough, and obstacles will be set in the way, but how we choose to overcome them determines our final destination. We have the power to choose.
MS: What’s your mantra?
NW: Never give up.
MS: What’s the single, most important piece of advice, in your opinion, that you can offer other hairdressers who are looking to become successful in their own careers?
NW: Never stop learning or practicing. I always practice, practice and practice some more. It is the only way to master anything. I have a practice head at home in my living room, and use it every week to challenge myself to trying something new.
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