Rita Hazan is responsible for the most coveted hair color in the world. Mariah Carey’s famous honey hue: check. Beyoncé’s blond: check. Jessica Simpson, Madonna, J. Lo: check, check, check. In addition to reinventing celebrity images, she runs her mammoth flagship salon on 5th Avenue in Manhattan and developed a color care line that includes the original Spray-On Root Concealer ($25; ritahazan.com). Find out how it all started and what’s next for her mega-brand.
How did you start on this career path?
I went to beauty school and knew I wanted to work for Oribe, so I landed an interview and made sure I didn’t leave without getting a job. I was hired on the spot. I guess they saw my ambition and passion.
What was your first big break?
Roque, a stylist at Oribe, was working with Mariah Carey and she wanted a totally new look. I was newly promoted and he had seen my work and loved it. He told me that I needed to do Mariah’s color, and I continued to for five years. I changed her color from brown to honey.
You color some of the most famous hair in the world – do you still feel pressure? Do you ever get starstruck with new clients?
No, I never feel pressure or starstruck; I don’t know why. I feel like when someone calls me to color their hair they already did their research and know what I’m about. I only work with people I vibe with. It makes it fun and we are always on the same creative page.
What are you most proud of professionally?
That’s a hard one because I’m proud of all of my work. I don't have any investors, so I do all of this myself. My salon is on 56th Street and 5th Avenue, and we have the best team creatively and professionally. I also have my product line which is amazing. I get to create products that I believe in that do not exist on the market and start new trends. I guess I am a trendsetter for color and products. I’m proud of that!
Yours was the first root concealer on the market – tell me how it all came about?
Everywhere I went all over the world I always heard the same question. What can we do at home in between color? I was baffled that none of these big companies had addressed this problem. I decided I was going to come up with a solution. It took me four years of research and development. The color and the texture are untouchable. No one can recreate what I invented; they try but it just doesn’t hold up. As a colorist and a woman I looked at it from any and every angle of what could go right and wrong, and I made it fool proof and easy to use. The color is what is exceptional about it. I see color a special way, so I designed it to match any hair color, and that is the genius element. I've been imitated a lot and that is both flattering and frustrating. I’m flattered that they see what I have created and try to copy it. It’s frustrating that big companies with big budgets “act” like they created it and take credit for it. I do love that I started a new category in color maintenance. It’s exciting.
What’s next for your brand?
I am going international. I believe women all over the world color their hair and need amazing products to maintain it.
What advice do you have for people wanting to start out in hair?
Work hard, be patient, and never compare your journey to anyone else. Everyone has their own journey in life. Enjoy every moment of your career. From school, to training, assisting, working early mornings and late nights, just enjoy your work and you will see the benefits when it’s your time.