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Real Life Curls

Interview With Michelle Sultan Brand Ambassador & Creative Director For Imbue

In 2010 Michelle was awarded Afro Hair Stylist of the Year at the prestigious British Hairdressing awards and is a regular judge for the L’Oréal Colour Trophy.

How and when did you realise you had a passion for hair?

I realised I had a passion for hair when I was younger, as a pre-teen I would travel to the States to visit family, my aunty is a hairdresser out there and her salon was in the basement of the house, so she used to get me to help out. I used to sit in her salon and watch all the ladies come and go and just see how their confidence was boosted after having their hair done. I just really liked what you could create in a short space of time.

You have beautiful blond curls; what are your thoughts on those that say curls shouldn’t be coloured?

I get a lot of clients coming to me for hair colour, I think if it’s done safely, in a professional environment and the person that’s doing it knows exactly how to treat curly hair with colour, because there is a little bit of science to it. I’d say go for it, but like with anything, depending on what your natural base is and how light you want to go just be realistic. The lighter you go the more damage you are likely to cause.

What are your 5 top tips for caring for curly hair?

My 5 top tips are:

  1. Start out with a really good sulphate free cleanser. I love the Coil Awakening Cream Cleanser because it just moisturisers your curly hair from the get-go.
  2. If your curls are looking a bit droopy use the Imbue Curl Restoring Intensive Mask, it’s my mask of choice and great to use after cleansing your curls. The mask contains proteins which help to reinvigorate your curls.
  3. If you have the time, use a conditioner after doing a mask. A really good conditioner gives your hair slip, so when you are brushing or combing your curls whilst they are wet with conditioner on it will help your curls to clump together. Setting you up for a good curl day!
  4. Styling is key for curls, use good curling products such as gels and leave-in conditioners, the Imbue Coil Rejoicing Leave In Conditioner and the are fab for defining your curls and moisturising. I personally use a leave-in conditioner first just to get the moisture level up and then use the Curl Empowering Crème Gel to get those curls popping, to finish I like to use a hydrating serum or oil like the Imbue Curl Energising Hydration Serum and the Curl Worshipping Shine Oil to lock everything into place.
  5. Just generally loving it! One of the things I had to learn, and I tell people a lot is not to worry about every single day of your life having perfect curly hair. So, when you’re not having a perfect curly hair day put your leave-in conditioner in to nourish and moisturise it as you know you’re setting yourself up for the very next time you wash your hair. For me I’ve had to learn that it’s bit of a process and you’ve got to time your curly hair days around your lifestyle but once you get into that routine it’s really easy.

 

Do you air dry or diffuse? 

Ok so depending on how much time I’ve got whether its warmish outside or not I do a bit of both. I mainly air dry because I’m a little bit lazy with my hair, but if I haven’t lined up my wash day with enough time, I often find myself having to diffuse it. Luckily the Imbue Curl Defending Heat Protection Mist really helps to protect my curls. There was a time I didn’t really like to put any heat on my curls just because I was worried about the amount of direct heat that was going on to my hair, so now we’ve got the Curl Defending Heat Protection Mist it really works well.

It’s been well documented how little hairdressers were taught to treat and cut textured and afro hair during training. Did you find this when you got your qualifications? 

Back when I was at college, we used to have to bring our friends in so depending on what your friends set was like it would determine the type of hair you were used to doing. So, they didn’t necessarily say we don’t do curly hair but if you didn’t have friends that had curly hair or textured hair then you wouldn’t necessarily do it at college so you wouldn’t get the training or the qualification that went with it. For me personally, I found that I was able to do all types of hair at college and I made sure it was a point, I was quite strong minded that I wanted to do it. There was also an extra curriculum within the course, if you wanted to learn about relaxers and perms which were directly correlated to textured hair. Again, I chose to do that, a lot of people didn’t bother because they were just like “I’m not going to do it anyway because I haven’t got any friends with textured hair”.

What’s the most significant change you’ve seen in the industry towards curly hair, and how is it perceived?

I’ve seen the most incredible change when it comes to curly hair, when I first started hairdressing, when someone came into the salon with curly hair I’d say 90% – 95% of the time the person with curly hair would just come in to have their hair straightened or the hairdresser would suggest they have their hair straightened or smoothed or “controlled” or made more “manageable” – that was a word that used to get knocked around a lot. Whereas now the increase in people we’re seeing coming in with curly textured hair is huge. The fact that they are also walking out of the salon with their curly hair, with coily hair with textured hair. You only have to sit in a salon for one day to realise the change and also, we’ve noticed that the amount of chemical straightening services has gone from about 95% down to about 5%. So, it is huge, the difference is incredible.

How did your partnership with Imbue come about?

My partnership with Imbue came about when they approached me with the idea of developing a haircare range dedicated to the curly hair community. After doing some research it was very apparent to them the curly hair market was all about taming, smoothing, and controlling curls. They wanted to flip the narrative on its head and disrupt the market in terms of celebrating all types of curls. I spoke for hours with the team at Imbue, explaining my own hair journey and it was immediately obvious we’d be the perfect fit.

 

This may be difficult, but if you had to choose only one product from the range, what would it be?!

Honestly, I feel like they all go hand in hand. I’m not just saying that! My real hero product and the thing I absolutely cannot live without is the Curl Restoring Intensive Mask. I like to change up my hair, I like to wear it straight or curly at times and for me in both routines whatever I’m doing with my hair, I like using the mask. I can’t live without it. It’s a Hug in a jar.

Can we expect some new additions to the line soon?

Oh my goodness we’ve got the most exciting range of editions coming up. We’ve been working on this for over a year now and as a hairdresser it’s obviously massively important that as well as my hands I need the correct tools too. So, watch this space and make sure you keep an eye on our Instagram page @imbuecurls to find out what’s coming next.

 

You have an amazing portfolio of clients with the likes of Jennifer Hudson and Mel B to name a few! But is there anyone’s hair that you would love to get your hands on?

Obviously, I would love to work with Rihanna, I think she’s such an icon. I think she’s a chameleon and whatever she does always looks incredible. She’s never afraid to take risks. Beyonce just because I’d want to hang out with her and know what it feels like to be really rich for a few days. There’s so many I’d love to work with.

A huge thank you to Michelle for taking the time to answer our questions.

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