REAL EXPERT TALKS:
HAIRDRESSER AND GLOBAL CREATIVE ADVOCATE HESTER WERNERT-RIJN
The Dutch hairdresser and stylist on authentic beauty, individual style and mindfulness
If you spot Hester Wernert-Rijn on the streets of Amsterdam, you’ll recognize her by her long brunette locks, her fisherman’s cap that’s become her most frequently worn accessory, and her signature red lip. The sought-after stylist is a backstage regular at fashion shows around the globe. She’s known for her authentic and individualized styles as well as her mindful practices at her salon in Amsterdam called Mogeen. The interior of the industrial space is infused with the unique character and eclectic style of a woman who lives and breathes authenticity. Hester delivers the Authentic Beauty Concept philosophy into individual looks.
Authentic Beauty Concept: What does authenticity mean to you?
Hester Wernert-Rijn: Being perfectly imperfect, everyone in their own way. It can be how someone dresses or how they embrace their own beauty, for example by enhancing their moles and freckles or by letting their beautiful curls go wild. Perfectly imperfect is actually my signature style, not only in the looks that I create, but also in life. I believe that each and every person is unique in their own special way. Being authentic means embracing imperfections, being proud of them and challenging beauty standards by doing so. Perfectly authentic is a bit more rock 'n' roll. Loving yourself, life and everything that it has to offer…
How has authentic beauty evolved in recent years?
Authentic beauty has evolved with a new generation that wants to be unique, one of a kind. They are less interested in being a part of the mainstream – but at the same time, the mainstream itself has evolved. So many more different kinds of beauty are embraced nowadays.
How would you describe the lifestyle of this new generation?
It’s a very fast lifestyle. This generation knows so much more than I knew at a young age, they take a huge interest in fashion and they show their interest on social media. Information gathering and sharing is key and the pace is much faster than it used to be. There's an open conversation going on about the things they love, the things they hate, and the things they are interested in. Technology provides opportunities that we didn’t have before. Young people today are more informed, conscious and aware of their lifestyle, but also of its effects on the environment.
How does Authentic Beauty Concept fit into this lifestyle?
Authentic Beauty Concept includes treatments that are focused on taking time to connect with yourself, to truly experience and enjoy the moment itself. As I said before, the pace of life is fast, there’s little time to relax, so the treatments give you that time to really focus on yourself. People who work a lot and live this fast lifestyle want to have a premium moment for themselves, so the treatment is also a memento – you get a moment to yourself, but the feeling of relaxation will last beyond that moment. Authentic Beauty Concept is powerful in its simplicity and it also fits exactly into the time we are living in, when you want to be conscious and authentic and embrace yourself on all levels.
What is mindfulness to you?
Being in tune with my needs. Mindfulness is all about relaxation and destressing. I have a five-year-old daughter and twin one-year-old boys, so when I ask someone to give me a professional shampoo in my salon, that’s a rare moment for myself. It becomes real “me time”, when I can pause everything that goes on around me for a while.
How do you achieve authentic hair?
By enhancing how the hair flows naturally and not overloading it with too much product. Of course, you need some, but you also need the knowledge to understand what’s in it and the skill to read a person’s hair. I like to embrace the beauty of the individual structure and make it look effortless. For me, that’s authentic hair.
What is authentic Dutch style to you?
I think everyone is quite relaxed. There’s a lot of different cultures, so it’s not really what you might imagine – blonde hair, clogs and a blue dress … The hair is more raw, a little bit effortless and clean. I actually think we have quite a cool style.
What makes your work as a hairdresser instantly recognisable?
I like to make hair look beautiful, but with a certain imperfection, which gives it more depth and makes it more interesting to look at. When you look at my work, even when it’s really clean there is a little bit of imperfection somewhere – keeping it authentic instead of changing and covering up flaws.
What are your most authentic moments?
I can think of a few. Privately, it would have to be the birth of my daughter Tiger-Lily and my twin sons Splinter and Zipper – and of course getting married to my amazing husband. Professionally, I think the first time I worked with Eugene Souleiman, on a Yohji Yamamoto show. It was amazing! Working backstage with all the beautiful clothes and the vividness all around us gave me a warm feeling. At the moment, I’m excited about working with a new brand, with new people and about creating something new with Authentic Beauty Concept.
What inspires you?
There are many things that I get inspired by. Most of all by nature, but also just walking along the street. Quite often I find inspiration when I see my kids playing – like when Tiger-Lily makes shapes with clay or mixes different colors when she draws. I also get inspired by local trends when I’m travelling. I’m always aware of what’s happening around me and I make it my own and use it for inspiration.
How do the Authentic Beauty Concept “free from…” formulas affect hair feel?
When using the products, you notice that there is a new hair performance. The styling products leave the natural hair movement, so you can really play with the hair and achieve an effortless look. Because there are no silicones, there is no slippery feel to the hair, so it feels really authentic. It all contributes to what I would call modern hair performance.
How did you get to where you are professionally today?
I don’t really know. I just always loved hair. When I was four years old, I already wanted to be a hairdresser. Doing hair never feels like work, so I am lucky. I always made an effort to travel and educate myself. Eugene Souleiman, one of my mentors, trained me to develop an eye for fashion and integrate that into hairdressing. No matter how old you are, you still need to be open to learning. If you do that, you will always grow as a person. I think that’s another reason why I am where I am – because I’m always willing to learn.
When was the last time you crafted something with your own hands?
What was just last week. We had a shoot for Vogue and it was all about keeping the model's character and telling a story through her look. Anytime I work, I craft something with my own two hands.