Choosing a new hairstyle can be an intimidating, all-consuming experience—especially if you, like I, have more or less stuck with the same length for the majority of your adult life. But when I saw the proliferation of the bob in recent months (including, but not limited to, Beyoncé, Sarah Hyland, and Britney Spears), and subsequently began to tire of tending my unruly and increasingly lengthy J-fro, I was suddenly inspired to revert back to the trusty cut I rocked from ages one through seven. While contemplating the newly-anointed It hairdo, I decided to go straight to the source and enlist the help of a seasoned pro: Emma Stone's own personal hair wizard, Mara Roszak.
The Los Angeles-based hairstylist, who also counts Mila Kunis and Lily Collins amongst her clientele, arguably became the harbinger of the classic style when she first made Stone's chop before the actress's Broadway stint as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, sending the Internet into a tizzy. After patiently waiting two months for my appointment, Roszak slipped into town at an opportune time, days before the annual Met Ball and just as it was finally starting to feel like spring in New York. As she worked her magic, I picked her brain about how she got her start (hint: it involves a certain '90s icon), why the bob has experienced a resurgence in popularity, and, most importantly, how to maintain it when she's not around.
Here's an excerpt from our conversation:
How’d you get your start as a hairstylist?
I did all of my friends' hair for their bat mitzvahs when I was 13. In terms of my professional career, it's kind of a funny story. I have a family friend in L.A. who was a publicist, and when I had just graduated beauty school [at the Marinello School of Beauty], she called me and asked if I could do Sarah Michelle Gellar’s hair. This was in early 2000s, mind you, when she was very big. I didn’t even have my driver’s license—my mom had to drive me there.
How nervous were you?
Very. It was literally my first job ever—I had only done my friends' and family’s hair. But I of course said yes, and I went to her house and did her hair and she was so wonderful and personable. After that, she hired me on a worldwide press tour. Her publicist at the time is now Emma's publicist.
How often do you cut Emma's hair?
We very rarely set up actual times to cut her hair—it's more often that I’ll be there for an event or a shoot. She’s always got stuff going on. Sometimes I’ll send her photos, and sometimes she’ll send me ones.
Me, showing Roszak an inspiration shot.
Whose idea was the bob?
That one was mutual, for sure. It had been something that we had talked about for a little while and then finally did right before Cabaret during the winter. The short hair was perfectly suited for all of the dancing.
Why do you think the hairstyle has gotten so popular? Besides Emma, of course.
It’s so versatile—that’s why I personally love it. You can find your own version that suits you: If you’ve got great style, you could go for one that’s a little bit more fun, but if you're more conservative, there's something for you too. It’s universally flattering and automatically makes you look more put-together. You feel more inspired to dress the part because your hair is doing its thing.
How often should I cut my hair to maintain the length?
I'd say once every two months, at the most. Short hair can be lower-maintenance as far as your day-to-day routine, but in terms of cutting, the upside is that it can morph into other cool things, like a lob.
What products should I use on the day-to-day?
Conditioner and oils make a big difference in terms of taming the frizz. On my clients, I go with the combo of L'Oréal Paris Total Repair 5 Shampoo, Damage-Erasing Balm, Olio Therapy Perfecting Oil-Essence, and TXT It Tousle Waves Spray. For thick hair, if you wash two to three times a week, you want to get it pretty clean when you do it. I actually like to put shampoo on, scrub, wet it again, and do another shampoo. It almost reactivates the shampoo—you can get a better lather and get it cleaner. Then, I do a light conditoner on the ends. Once it's dry, I apply a dime's worth of oil and several spritzes of the spray.
Any specific styling tips?
I love putting a little bit of texture in the bob, and you can make great tousled waves with a flat iron: Just take one two-inch strand of hair and iron downward for a couple of inches, facing away from the face. Then do the same thing in the opposite direction. Keep repeating that zig-zag motion until you finish the whole length of the strand. Then grab another one and keep going.
Do you think the bob is a seasonal cut?
Spring is a great time to do it, but I also feel like you can do it at any point in time. In the winter, I’m definitely way more cold when I have my hair up than I am with my hair down, but it’s also nice when you’re wrapping your scarves to not get all of those tangles [in your hair]. There's really no bad time to do it—you just want to make sure you're mentally be prepared for the change.
How do you ensure that your clients don't freak out in the salon chair?
When someone is about to completely change their look, it can be super exciting and liberating, but that being said, there’s always an opportunity for a freakout, and those should be embraced. You should freak out. You should have a moment—that’s part of the excitement. It’s like getting a tattoo.
How do you manage freak outs?
It's my job to do the haircut, but it’s also my job to make sure the person is really ready. There’s always a conversation and a moment where I ask a few questions to make sure they’re on board. It’s definitely a part of my consultation: trying to figure out what’s going on emotionally. I always have to remind people, "It's just hair. It'll grow back." But it really makes a huge difference in someone's daily routine.
The finished product, minus the ample cleanup involved.
For more behind-the-scenes snaps of Roszak and her clients, follow her on Instagram at @mararoszak.