Ted Gibson Talks Holiday Hair, Ashley Greene, and His Academy at Sea

ted gibson portrait
Photo courtesy of Ted Gibson
Celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson

Even if you've never had the honor of sitting in a chair at his chic Fifth Avenue salon, you've definitely seen the amazing work of hair guru Ted Gibson.

He's a major player during Fashion Week, creating runway coifs for the likes of Rachel Roy and Lela Rose.

He also transforms real women every week as the resident hair stylist on TLC's beloved makeover show What Not to Wear.

And if you've seen Anne Hathaway or Ashley Greene on a red carpet of late (and you certainly have!), there's a good chance his hands were behind their gorgeous manes.

FashionEtc caught up with the Texas-born, New York-based über-hairstylist to get the secrets behind his celebrity strands, top tips for party-ready hair, and the cut you need now.

What styles are you loving for the holiday party circuit?

I think a lot of girls want to be sexy, but not too contrived. Girls with long hair want to wear it down, and girls with short hair want to wear it tousled and sexy. but there are a lot of different things happening: half up, half down, accessories that add a little sparkle ... I love headbands on girls, and I love ponytails on girls for holiday. And a top knot always works!

So how can the average woman get these looks herself?

Product is one key part, as well as having the right tools in your arsenal. If you want volume, you need Build It, our blow-drying spray, or a mousse by L'Oréal Professional called Expansion. It brings life and fullness to hair. Hairspray really used to have a bad name, but there’s a resurgence; it’s coming back. Modern hairsprays aren’t necessarily sticky and stiff. You can get touchable hair that you can run your fingers though.

And tools?

A medium-sized curling iron is essential. You can create soft waves, or you can brush it out and get that Old Hollywood glam look. It’s really timeless; Kim Kardashian, Ashley Greene, Annie Hathaway, Angelina Jolie [all clients of Gibson's] have all worn that look.

What’s the haircut to get now?

The demi-bob is really hot. I cut it on Brooklyn Decker earlier in the summer and I still love it. Some like to call it the "lob," or long bob—it’s that mid-length hairstyle, just above the shoulder. It works with fashion, but it looks really fresh—straight or wavy or curly.

How important is it to change up your hair-care regimen with the season? Any tips on keeping hair healthy in the winter?

In the winter, people are trying to control static, especially when they’re taking hats on and off. My Hair Sheet [Treatment] controls static, has a UV absorber, vitamins A, D, and E, and antioxidants to nourish hair. Sometimes people use water to control static, but this is more moisturizing. And of course, you should always deep condition once a week!

Ashley Greene's hair always looks flawless. What is she like to work with?

She’s so great. I’ve been working with her for two years now. She has ideas about fashion and beauty, and as a new, young Hollywood actress, who has a lot going on, she can basically be a chameleon. She’s a hairdresser’s dream.

What is your favorite way to style her hair?

I think wavy always works, but then it all depends on what she’s wearing and where she’s going. She wears both styles [wavy and straight] really well.

Ted Gibson products

Photos courtesy of Ted Gibson

Ted Gibson products, from left to right: Daily Nourish Conditioner; Hair Sheet Styling; Daily Cleanse Shampoo; and Build It Blow Drying Agent, all available at Ted Gibson Salons.

Not so long ago everyone was addicted to their straighteners and there was a lot of pin-straight hair on the red carpet, but now it seems to be all about that wave.

I think girls love to be romantic. Waves are about romance. They’ll never go out of style, though the size of the wave changes.

What do you think of that cropped wig she wears in Twilight?

I think the last one [Breaking Dawn: Part I] was much better than the previous! It’s amazing, though; she’s got all of that hair twisted up in the wig cap!

How can we get hair as shiny as hers?

She loves Ted Gibson products. She uses the Daily Cleanse Shampoo and Daily Nourish Conditioner, and she loves my Hair Sheets. Jason Backe colors her hair in the salon. She’s such a beauty girl. I love it.

So going from red carpet glamour to something a little less glamorous: what's the craziest thing you've seen lately on What Not to Wear?

I saw a girl on a recent episode with hair to the middle of her back that was ombré but not intentionally ombré! She was wearing this holey shirt with her bra hanging out—she was, for lack of a better term, a mess, and we wanted to create a really amazing, voluptuous woman. I think it was one of the best makeovers on What Not to Wear. I gave her a demi-bob and we went brunette—I colored most of it, so it was still ombré, but on purpose!

You've done so much celebrity and red carpet hair—is it hard to switch to styling regular people for the show?

It’s universal, they way women feel about their hair, and they’re never happy! For me, there’s nothing better than standing behind the chair in the salon or getting someone ready for a red carpet event. A universal theme is that they just want the best possible hair for them; beauty is individuality. Angelina [Jolie] one day, a stay at home mom the next—and the idea’s the same thing.

What were some of your favorite runway hair looks from the Spring 2012 shows?

I did a Rachel Roy look I call "the new braid." It’s a twist—a chignon in the back held with a big large silver barrette. I also did Lela Rose, a twist again with a side part, half up, half down, and the twist went underneath the hair and hair fell over the top. Women want to be able to put their hair up in different ways, and not just with braids but twists.

That all sounds a little complicated. How can the layperson attempt something like that?

Try not to make it so perfect! Don’t be so hard on yourself; it doesn’t have to be just like it is in the magazines. You can create something for yourself, and not making it so perfect is what makes you an individual—it’s like customizing your own style.

If we were to have a New Year's hair resolution, what should it be?

Keep it soft. Keep it flirty. Make sure you can run your hands through it! And you should deep condition at least once a week. I also tell women who shampoo every day to add a tablespoon of vinegar to your shampoo once or twice a week to remove buildup from products or the environment.

What are your plans for the holidays?

I’m going to Minnesota for Christmas, which should be really fun. Right after that, I’m going to Florida, where I have a new salon opening in the first part of the year. I’ll be interviewing staff—and hanging out a little, I hope!

We hear you’re hosting an Academy at Sea—a training session on a cruise ship!—next year. How did that come about?

I’ve always wanted to think about education for hairdressers differently, and one way to do that is give them a little R and R and education at the same time! There will be two days of education, special musical guests, DJs, lots of food, and entertainment.

Is this the first of many?

Absolutely. And I want to do consumer ones, too!

What will happen on those?

I would dance and sing … no, just joking! There would be seminars to teach how to be better women, understand how they can get their hair cut and colored—really, it would be a forum for women to get together and discover how incredible they are and what they add to everyone’s life. Plus, lots of champagne!

Count us in!