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Ten Minutes with Celebrity Hairdresser Michael Douglas, the Nicest Man in Beauty

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Main image – Mdlondon

Having been a beauty journalist for almost 18 years, I’ve met and interviewed *quite a few* beauty professionals. From makeup artists to dermatologists to hair stylists, I have spent time with experts in abundance, and learnt a lot from them along the way. 

But as lovely as (most) of them are, no one is as kind or friendly as hair stylist, Michael Douglas. Disclaimer: this is just my humble opinion. But I genuinely think it would be hard to find anyone who disagrees. He’s that nice.

For someone who has worked on the hair of A-listers like Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow, you’d expect him to show even just a hint of diva-ish behaviour. A sniff of ‘don’t you know who I am?’ – just occasionally. 

But alas. I have no gossip there (well, not on that part anyway…). Michael is just as down to earth and warm as the day I met him around 16 years ago at a recording of The Album Chart Show (remember that?!) when I was a meagre assistant working at Cosmo. 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Una publicación compartida por michael douglas (@mdlondon)

 

He was then an ambassador for Wella Professionals (now their style director). Wella were sponsoring The Album Chart Show and I was kindly given tickets to go and watch.

Michael looked after me and treated me in exactly the same way as the other journalist attendees, who were in much more authoritative roles at (arguably) better magazines. 

After that, whenever I saw his name on a call sheet or I knew he would be at a launch or on a press trip, I knew I would be in safe hands.

The magazine industry is a tough place to grow a career in and, in my experience, not everyone wants to champion you. So, you learn to  appreciate those who do and who make you feel at ease.

So, what’s the story with the nicest man in hairdressing? Here, he tells me why he got into the hair industry (the reason might surprise you), what it was like meeting Johnny Depp, and he describes the most stressful thing that ever happened to him backstage.

Clue: it involves a can of black hairspray and a very angry model.

Michael now has his very own hair tools range, an incredibly popular podcast called Making the Cut which he does with his girlfriend, TV presenter Davina McCall, and he is still to this day one of the most respected hair stylists in the business.

Proving that success can come from good manners, kindness and always remembering your roots (pun intended). 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Where it all began

Most people in Michael’s position tell romantic stories about how they started their dream jobs.

I’ve heard many a grand tale from experts about how they were inspired by certain role models, how they were given signs growing up showing their career destiny or that they knew what they wanted to be from the minute they were born. 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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“I got into hairdressing due to pressure,” says Michael. Right then. 

“My mum was putting on me to get a job as I no longer wanted to be in further education. I chose hairdressing because my best friend’s older brother was a hairdresser, and he was the happiest guy I knew.

“And if I’m being totally honest, I also thought it was a great way to meet lots of girls! Sounds a bit crass now but it is true.” And this is why I love Michael Douglas. 

 


Pinch-me moments

You could say that things went well for Michael. After starting out as a junior on the salon floor, he eventually started working at fashion shows in London, New York and Paris in the 90s.

“I got to work on the hair of Claudia Schiffer, Yasmin Le Bon, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss,” he explains.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Donatella Versace (@donatella_versace)

 

“There were no mobile cameras back in those days which was a shame because I could have had some fantastic photos of me in action.” Yes, that is a shame. I for one would love to see what went on behind the scenes in the 90s! But the memories are etched in Michael’s brain forever. 

“I guess I really felt like I made it at that point. I was from a small northern town largely doing old ladies roller sets and a few years later I was doing the hair of supermodels at New York fashion week.”

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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So what was it like working with such huge names like Kate Moss and Claudia Schiffer? “It was fantastic,” he says. “I was very young so it was very nerve wracking but it really felt like I was at the centre of something special and exciting. 

Most models at fashion week are getting their hair and makeup done 4 to 5 times a day so they tend not to mind what you’re doing to them. You’re more trying to please the designer than the model sat in the chair, which to be honest makes things easier.”

 


Fashion week chaos

Having witnessed the environment behind the scenes myself at London fashion week, I can confirm that it is incredibly chaotic. As a journalist, you’re basically just always in the way. And unless you’re a model, makeup artist or hair stylist you feel painfully insignificant!

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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But it seems this intensity is felt on all sides. “It’s very stressful at fashion week, backstage,” Michael agrees. “There are literally hundreds of paparazzi style photographers trying to get backstage shots.” 

Ok fill us in then. What happened with the angry model? “A very famous model I was working on was having her hair sprayed with black hairspray,” he explains. “She was unhappy about it but like I said, I was doing this for the designer and this is what they wanted. 

“There were about 20 photographers in her face taking hundreds of pictures and she totally flipped out. She started grabbing their cameras and throwing them and shouting at me to not spray her hair black. Photographers were really angry and I was really stressed.

“I think I just hid behind her head and carried on working.” Ever the professional.

 


Feeling star struck

It would be hard not to feel nervous or excited when you meet a huge star. “I worked on a very big movie a few years back and did the hair of Gwyneth Paltrow and Johnny Depp and when you meet huge movie stars like that you can’t help but be star struck,” he says.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Gwyneth Paltrow (@gwynethpaltrow)

 

“You know they are just human beings doing a job but there is something fundamentally strange about meeting globally famous people that’s impossible for me to articulate. But it is a thing and it’s quite strange.”

So what are celebrities generally like? “My experience of meeting very famous people is they’re usually much nicer than you’d expect,” he says. “Most of them are extremely happy to be in the position they’re in.” Good to know.

 


Michael on a mission

Another redeeming feature of Michael’s is his desire to make hair styling more accessible.

“Having worked in the consumer products world for the past 25 years, I realise that lots of brands are trying to find new and innovative ways to market their products,” he explains.

“This has created a lot of confusion at the fixture when people try to find suitable products for their hair. I get 300 to 400 direct messages a day with people needing help trying to get their hair to look nice.” 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Una publicación compartida por michael douglas (@mdlondon)

 

 

Given the size of the hair styling market and the amount of money that’s in it, why is it that people still don’t know what to do? I see this as a huge failure by most of the big brands.” 

So, Michael’s on a mission. “To try and demystify the whole sector so people can simply and easily find a solution to make their hair less frizzy, more voluminous, have less flyaways, more shine, more smoothness, [and hair that’s] quicker and easier to style.”

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Una publicación compartida por michael douglas (@mdlondon)

 

And this is why he launched his hair tools range, MD London. “It’s quite easy for me to make people’s hair look better and, in fact, it’s quite easy for people to make their own hair look better,” he explains. “They just need the right tool and the right technique.

Somehow they’ve been convinced that the answer to their problem is in a £10 bottle of soap off the shelf in a supermarket or hair salon. But actually the answer is the hairstyling.”

 


Mdlondon

Within the mdlondon range, Michael has launched a high tech hair dryer (‘Blow’) and straightener (‘Strait’) and more recently his ‘Brush’ range.

The ‘Brush’ range contains a cleverly designed small, medium and large round brush (£19 each) as well as a vent brush (£13), sold exclusively at mdlondon.co.uk. And with the sleekest, coolest packaging I’ve ever seen.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Una publicación compartida por michael douglas (@mdlondon)

 

Of course it’s a solid, user-friendly range now but there are always hiccups along the way when creating a range of products like this, as Michael knows.

And apparently the business is very different now to what he had originally planned. “This is very common when starting up a business. You just have to put one foot in front of the other.”

He continues, “the product we really wanted to launch we’ve not been able to, so you might see this in the coming years.” Ooh, intriguing. 

 

Image – Mdlondon

 

It’s clear that Michael has put his heart and soul into this brand and that despite all the celebrity names he’s worked with, mdlondon really is his ‘baby’. “It has been the best thing I’ve ever done with my career,” he says. 

“It’s making use of everything I’ve learnt and all my experience of the last 35 years and hopefully putting it to good use by helping thousands of people have better looking hair.”

 


Making the cut

As if a hairstyling range wasn’t enough, Michael also works on a weekly podcast called Making The Cut with his girlfriend, TV presenter Davina McCall. They chat about all the things they recommend on there. Whether that’s a film, a product, a place or a small business, they’ll tell you all about it in detail. 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Una publicación compartida por michael douglas (@mdlondon)

 

“Making The Cut was a conversation that me and Davina McCall were having once a week anyway,” he explains. ‘We just decided to record the conversation so that recommendations were shared with more than just each other!” So simple, yet genius. 

“I think it’s very successful because it’s very underproduced,” he adds. “People often message us and say it really feels like I’m with you in the conversation, rather than eavesdropping in on a chat we’re having privately.

Also, we engage and interact with our listeners and they get to be part of the podcast and also recommend things to us which we can share with everybody else.” The duo are having a short break from podcasting at the moment but promise to be back in the spring. 

 


Quick fire questions

What’s next for hair?

Michael says hair trends are hard to predict. “The movie industry plays a much bigger part in what becomes fashionable with hair more so than the fashion industry,” he explains. “So keep an eye on what movies are coming out over the next 2 to 3 months and expect to see something influenced by that by summer time!”

 

Michael’s all-time favourite style

“I love creating a beehive – the bigger the better,” he says. “One of the things I never got to do was to style Amy Winehouse’s hair. I met her a few times but would have loved to have created that beehive.

I did one on Davina for an event in November last year. It looked so good and for me, that’s such a nice thing to do.” 

 


The takeaway

After 35 years in the industry and a list of countless celebrity clients under his hair tool belt, it’s safe to say that Michael Douglas knows about hair. It’s just a bonus that this knowledge comes with a side of warmth, kindness and modesty. 

Check out the mdlondon range for mindful, quality hair styling tools that don’t cost the earth. And if you’re in the market for something new – whether that’s a TV series binge, book or even snack – you name it, Making The Cut podcast talks about it.

Michael is proof that you can be right at the top of your game and still have scope to learn – and teach – new things. I can vouch for the fact that he manages to do it with no airs and graces. And always with a big friendly smile on his face. 

 

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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University
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