Sometimes it takes a while to find your true calling in life. But when you have a passion inside of you – it will find a way to come out. Meet Valentina, she grew up in the beauty industry and is now making Ottawa beautiful from the inside out, one client at a time.
So let’s start from the beginning. You were exposed to the beauty industry at an early age through your parents, what made you decide to follow in their footsteps?
Yes, both of my parents have enjoyed long careers in hairstyling! Growing up, I did not know that hair would be such a big part of my future. I attended culinary school before ever realizing how passionate I was about hair. I always loved the social aspect of being a stylist, the salon lifestyle and the creative freedom that the career offered. It was everything culinary school was lacking for me. From the moment I started my apprenticeship I knew that hairstyling truly did run through my veins.
My mother is a retired hair stylist and salon owner. I also have several other family members who are, or have been, in the industry. I find that this impacted my view on beauty, hair and fashion. I have such a deep appreciation for beauty professionals, the art they create and how they make people look and feel.
How did having parents who were both stylists impact you?
I can absolutely relate! My parents had us in the salon very often – it was a normal part of my life and left a huge impression on me. I remember watching the clients leave my parent’s salon so happy, looking and feeling great. This showed me the impact that hairstylists have on people’s lives.
You’ll often hear people say, “Hairstyling is much more than just doing hair” – it’s very true, and I got to witness this first hand. I’m so fortunate to now be in the position to develop my own relationships with my clients.
We impact how people look and feel on a daily basis. We see our clients beaming with confidence as they leave our chair, and that is an indescribable feeling.Valentina Underwood
As an artist, where do you draw inspiration from?
Social media! New trends or trends that resurface from many decades past are what keep us on our toes – we always see them on social media first. I follow hair stylists and influencers from all around the world. I am exposed to techniques and trends that without social media, I would have never gotten to experience.
You are surrounded by a team of talented stylists and leaders. When you first started your career as a beauty professional, what was it like to go into work every day and be in this type of environment.
I was and still am so inspired every time I step foot into my workplace. I feel so fortunate to continue to be in the presence of talented hair stylist and colourists every day. Rinaldo (now Mane Collective) at Lansdowne was my first real job in a salon. I was mentored by the three amazing ladies that own the salon. Being encouraged to learn and grow gave me the most confidence and motivation. I can’t imagine working in any other type of environment.
Ongoing training is such an important part of being a hair stylist. How does each workshop or course you take help you grow as a hair stylist?
Advanced training courses are what feed the desire to create!
It’s about updating your knowledge, technique and learning so much more about being a hair stylist. You’re exposed to a crazy amount of talent at these courses. It helps change the way you think, put you out of your comfort zone and encourages you to try something new. The takeaway is the anticipation, energy and excitement to try something that you’ve been doing for years, but with a fresh set of eyes and a whole new perspective.
Using salon quality products between visits has become more important than ever, especially with imposed lockdowns. What are some hair products that will help people keep their hair looking and feeling healthy?
I am obsessed with Davines products! I always suggest starting with a good shampoo and conditioner. If nothing else, you will at least wash your hair. So, why not use something nourishing and hydrating – especially in the winter. LOVE smooth shampoo and conditioner, it is my go to for soft, nourished and moisture rich hair.
If you are looking for a little more…
- Oi All In One Milk: Leave in spray to help tame frizz and detangle.
- The Circle Chronicles Masks | Renaissance Circle: Yellow clay mask that restores the structure of hair resulting in silky, strong hair.
- This is a Blowdry Primer: Bodifying tonic that offers a heat protectant and speeds up drying time.
In the hair industry – people expect stylists to be on top of all the fashion trends. But I think it is really more about being stylish than trendy. Do you think developing a personal style is important? And, how would you describe your own personal style?
No, I don’t think you need to develop a personal style. For myself, it’s hard to describe because my style changes all the time! Sometimes I find inspiration in one new item that stands out from EVERYTHING else in my closet.
It’s all about how what your wearing makes you feel. From Dr. Marten boots to platform vans, air force ones to pointed leather boots, I can style any outfit to go with! Like you said, it’s about being stylish. But what that means for me might not mean the same for you, and that’s OK!
Although Ottawa has a smaller fashion and beauty sector compared to Toronto and Montreal, do you have any aspirations of pursuing editorial opportunities?
Yes, I would love to pursue something like this.
The freedom to create whatever your heart desires is so exhilarating.
It would put me out of my comfort zone and would be a great experience! I look forward to participating in something like the World Wide Hair Tour by Davines one day.
I am a bit obsessed with trying new skincare products. Do you have a skincare routine you follow?
Typically, I do not deal with problem skin but since having to work in a mask I have experienced some Maskne. I recently started using Clinique Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam. It’s a super lightweight cleanser that is gentle on the skin. I also use the Clinique iD Dramatically Different Hydrating Clearing Jelly + Active Cartridge Concentrate for Imperfections. So far I am obsessed!
What are some of your makeup must haves?
- I was put on to ELF camouflage concealer. I love good under-eye coverage that is not too heavy or cakey. The quality of this product is super impressive for the price!
- I love a bold winged liner with great brows. That is probably my signature look. Anastasia Beverly Hills Dip Brow is my all-time favorite!
I think no matter how passionate you are about your career, it is helpful to have other creative outlets, activities or hobbies that let you take a mental break.
What are some of the ways you recharge, when you are not behind the chair?
Travel, travel, travel, and I am so grateful to have the best travel partner, my husband! We are always looking for the next best location to explore and unwind. I’m drawn to places where I can explore a new culture, try new food and see something spectacular. From the Hatta Desert in Dubai to the black sandy beaches on the west coast of New Zealand!
What do you love most about going into work every day and being behind the chair?
The thing I love the most about going into work every day is how rewarding it is. I meet so many amazing people, from all walks of life. I get to know my clients personally and I help them look and feel their best, always! From creating my client a whole new style that makes them feel so alive, or doing a wash and blowout for someone before an important day, I am always left feeling so fulfilled!
Finally – what three words describe you best?
Generous, artistic, compassionate.