Just remember to always be yourself. Don’t let anyone change you. I’m my best me, when I’m myself.
Ziad Sami El-Zoor
This interview has been four years in the making. I’m not even over exaggerating this time. But I believe everything in life happens when it’s supposed to.
Ziad Sami El-Zoor
Master Colorist and Hair Stylist
Texture Hair Salon | Ottawa, ON CA
Where did you study to become a Stylist?
I studied at West End Academy. It’s a private academy – the program is one year. But I was doing hair before that, as an assistant.
Where was that?
I was at Salon Salwa for seven and a half years.
What did you do there?
I started off as an assistant – I did that for a few years, then I started doing blow-dries for the owner, colors and so on. Then after four years, I started cutting hair and doing everything myself.
Then, I was actually going to stop doing hair, but that is when I met Ramsey Sayah. I went to work for him at Texture Hair Salon and I loved it. I’m happy I didn’t stop.
Well I think everyone has their calling in life and hair is definitely it for you.
In 2013 you were recognized as an up-and-coming hairstyling talent, winning gold for the student competition in the Sebastian What’s Next Competition. In 2015 you placed in the top 7 for all of Canada in the Young Talent division of the North American TrendVision Competition.
2013 Sebastian What’s Next Awards
2015 North American TrendVision Competition
How do you prepare for competitions? I’ve spoken to hair stylist who do a lot of prep work before hand, mood boards, practicing looks and then others just go in and start creating the day of the photo shoot.
For my What’s Next entry, I just did it that day. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t likes to overthink anything. I think you should just go for it. If you make it – you make it and if you don’t, you got the experience.
You’ve been doing a lot of makeovers lately. Tell us a bit about that.
I got involved with Savvy Beauty and they are now doing my videos on their site. I have my own studio at their head office – where I can go and do makeovers, how to’s and tutorials.
The one video I did with Taryn Miller, Would you dare to go grey on purpose? has 8 million views. Our inbox is full with people asking questions, wanting me to go to the States and do their hair and even offers to teach a course.
Social media is a great way to get your name out there.
Yes. It’s free. That is why I use my Facebook and Instagram to my full advantage. I post all my makeovers, everything I do. Plus every time you post a makeover you gain 2-3 followers. It’s crazy.
What about editorial work? I know it can be expensive and time consuming.
I would like to start doing more of that in the New Year – photo shoots, beauty shoots anything on a catwalk. I would like to get more into that.
Do you have any interest in becoming a platform artist in the future?
Yes. That would be the next step in my career.
So you and Ramsey went to the Wella Professionals International Trend Vision Awards in Barcelona. Tell us about your experience.
It was my first time – so I didn’t know what to expect.
I loved it – it was amazing. The experience of being there and seeing all the countries together, seeing what they have to offer – the work and talent. It was unreal.
I’ve done and read a lot of interviews. There are two types of artists: Wella and Sebastian – two very different types of stylists. Do you find you float in between the two?
At first I thought I was Sebastian 100% but then I got my hands into more coloring – so then I thought well maybe I’m more Wella. So I was bouncing back and forth. But I finally made a decision a few weeks ago. I recently got approved to be a Sebastian Professional brand educator.
Oh wow. Congratulations!
Thank you. I start my training in the New Year. I am hoping to bring a little twist to it.
Well I think that’s what makes a good platform artist. Seeing something and putting a twist on it. Being a brand educator, you’ll get to go to fashion week.
Yes. You do get a lot of perks. But, the fact that I get to go on training and then come back and teach, is something that I always wanted to do.
You’ll probably get an opportunity to eventually work with the big Sebastian artists too. I love the work of Shay Dempsey and Michael Polsinelli.
I have been a fan of Sebastian, since day one. To work with these artists is seriously one of my biggest goals.
Education, staying up-to-date on all the new techniques, products and trends – do you think it’s important in this industry?
I think education is really important. I just finished my second color master course. It’s very important to keep up-to-date – styles and colors always change. Wella always comes out with new color lines. If you haven’t done a course in 5-6 years, you’re not up-to-date with the colors and trends. It’s the same thing with haircuts – style change and there are new techniques. So it’s always good to keep up.
The more training you take – the more money you make, because you bring it back to the shop.
Who are some of your industry idols?
Sonya Dove – I love her work – she motivates me. Omar Antonio and the whole Sebastian crew. They really inspire me. Their work is just insane. I can’t wait to learn all those techniques – the braiding.
Hair is not just my job – it’s my life!
In your salon bio, you said that you couldn’t see yourself doing anything else at this point in your life. What do you love most about going into work every day and being behind the chair?
Honestly, seeing my clients happy. Making someone smile – that is more than enough for me. That is the pay cheque. It’s the biggest reward.
That is the way I show my art – through peoples hair.
It might be easy to get a client but it’s not as easy to keep them. You can’t keep doing the same thing every time they come in. Clients want change. They really do.
They might say they’re not sure but, you just have to give them a little bit of a change and you build that trust.
You have a personal connection with your clients.
I do. Even when it’s a first time client, I try to get as personal as I can. You want them to feel warm. I literally hug almost all my clients. It makes them feel a connection.
Trust builds loyalty right?
Can you give our readers any hair tips?
A lot of my clients ask me how to get rid of frizz before it goes from wet to dry. I tell them using a hair oil, always helps. My favorite is the Wella Luxe Keratin Oil. I find it silky smooth and it doesn’t weight the hair down. The Sebastian Dark Oil – is absolutely amazing. It’s the lightest oil we have. It can be used on wet hair – intermixed with other products. Guys can mix it with Eruptek by Sebastian and apply it when the hair is wet, then after you blow dry it – it gives volume.
I think some clients think that you’re trying to up sell them – when you recommend salon products. But the truth of the matter is, if you don’t use them, you’re not going to get that salon look.
When I finish a clients hair they say – Wow. I could never do this myself. There is a technique to it obviously, but products are 50% of it. It really is. It helps to get that shine, that smoothness and fullness.
So it’s not a trick.
Believe it or not, shampoo and conditioner really helps. A lot of people think the more shampoo the better, that’s not true. The more shampoo you use in your hair – the more it’s going to get weighed down and it will be harder to rinse. So you’re leaving a residue every time. Less shampoo, and a little more conditioner on the ends.
Is there anything you can use to get rid of residue on the hair shaft?
Yes. Nioxin has a cleansing shampoo. It really helps for dry scalp or any residue left in your hair. But after that you can use a nice treatment.
After you use the Nioxin shampoo, it strips everything out – so your hair is left naked. If you use a good treatment – your hair will absorb it better than using a regular shampoo on it.
The trends and categories for Wella Professionals TrendVision have evolved over the years. I think now, they give hair stylists more of an opportunity to think outside the box – the artistic possibilities are endless. What do you think of how it’s evolved?
At first, I didn’t know what to think. But, after you see the work that made it through, it’s amazing. It’s more edgy stuff – especially with the color. It’s almost like you mixed Sebastian and Wella together for the Creative Vision.
Although there has been a boom in men’s barber shops and services lately, sometimes men are neglectful of taking care of their hair and skin. What are some basic grooming tips for men?
A lot of guys have beards now. So there are a lot of beard oils and shampoos. Believe it or not – you have to clean your beard too. It’s not just your hair. If you get food, coffee or anything in there – it stays. So keep it clean – it’s very important. You should brush it as well, so it stays nice and soft. For skincare there are so many products now too.
Men are taking more of an interest in it – getting back to the way it used to be.
Men are more interested in it than ever right now. They’re not shy to go into a salon and ask questions – doing highlights or colors.
My cousin owns a spa in the East End and she tells me that men come in for facials and manicures. It’s just about looking good.
Exactly. I think it’s important.
You look good – you feel good.
I know clients often come in with a picture of a celebrity – wanting a certain look. But a lot of the time, it just isn’t going to suit them. How do you deal with situations like that?
A lot of clients will bring in a picture of Kim K. for example and say I really want this haircut or color. But when I cover her face in the picture – they see the hair differently. I tell them you don’t have her face, so it’s not going to look the same.
It’s not meant to be insulting – they are coming to me for their hair not their face. I suggest every time you find a picture, always cover the face and see if you like the hair. If you still like it – then maybe we can try it out.
It depends on other things too – like skin tone.
So all to say – just because you get a style like Kim K. – it doesn’t mean you’ll leave the salon looking like her.
You are the king of selfies – I can’t take one to save my life. Can you share some tips on taking a good selfie?
I love selfies – everyone knows that.
Make sure the window is facing you, not behind you. You get the best lighting.
For angle wise – never take a selfie from down low. Always go a bit higher. But not too high – like a 180 degree angle.
In this industry, fashion is really important – you want to project a certain image to clients.
They say you should never judge a book by it’s cover but in this case it’s not true. If I am going to a stylist, skill set is always number one, but I want them to have a good sense of style too.
If you don’t look the part, people aren’t going to trust you. It’s very sad but true.
What advice do you have for someone coming into the industry?
Communication is the number one thing for hair stylists.
The first thing you do with the client is a consultation. Even if you have been doing a clients hair for 10 years, you should always start with a consultation. Maybe the client wants to change their hair – but if you don’t talk about it, you’ll never know.
You can introduce a new color or service.
Right now 99% of my clients are using the premium line we carry at the shop. Because it gives more shine and lasts longer. They don’t mind paying the extra money – if they know the benefits.
I never use drugstore hair products – not even shampoo. Even though the salon lines are a little more expensive, in the end it balances itself out. You use less and it lasts longer. I can’t live with out my shampoo – just solely for the fact that it makes my color last longer.
That is the way you should explain it to clients. You may be paying $5.00 more for a product than you would at Shoppers Drug Mart – but you just spent $100.oo on your hair. Now you’re going to go home and wash it all out. Really? Just spend the extra $5.00.
Sometimes, you just don’t give them a choice. You have to use this. But, they understand why.
Now it’s time for a few more personal questions.
How would you define your personal style?
My style changes. I just don’t have one style. I find lately I’ve been wearing more black. More neutral colors.
I don’t care what anyone thinks really. If I find something that is absolutely wild – I’m going to wear it. My clients are just used to it now.
That’s being a part of an artist too. You can’t care what people think. Your look has to be authentic too.
Well I am expressing myself – not only with my work, but with the way I look.
How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I’m a visual artist.
I visualize something and I can do it. I’m not a mental artist. When I’m taking a course, I can’t take all the information I’ve learned and then write everything down on paper again. That’s not me. I’ve never been like that. It was probably one of my biggest struggles in high school – remembering things I’ve learned.
Whose celebrity style do you like most?
I’ve always been obsessed with Rihanna’s style. Everyone knows that. She doesn’t care.
Someone who doesn’t care – means they are that confident to wear whatever they want.
Lady Gaga. She dresses like a freak – and doesn’t care what people think. I love it. It’s her. It’s her signature.
What is your biggest hair pet peeve?
A lot of people try to cut their own hair – and then come to the salon to fix it. Like cutting their own bangs. It’s not as easy as it looks.
They say 80% of stylists have a hard time cutting bangs. So what makes you think you’re going to cut your own bangs perfectly?
Let’s talk fashion for a bit.
Where are your go to places for an outfit?
Honestly, if I ever need an outfit, the first place I go to is Zara. You will find something there always. If you can’t – then just buy something black. You can’t go wrong.
Like girls have their little black dress. They can wear it every night – change up their accessories and no one will notice. For a guy, we can wear a black suit, change up the bow tie, shirt – no one will notice you’re wearing the same suit.
I have been accessorizing a lot lately – with my suits or a blazer – like adding a brooch and that can set off the look. I can buy a $50.00 blazer and make it look like a $200.00 blazer – just by adding one thing to it. It’s funny a lot of hair stylists actually shop at Zara. Especially when we were in Barcelona – there is one on every corner.
Finally – what three words describe you best?
I’m saying this – because this is what I hear from people.
Happy, outgoing, creative.
Also people call me the hair magician – it’s all over Facebook #hairmagician.
That’s good. When you’re clients help create a brand for you – I think that’s one of the biggest compliments.
The other one is magical unicorn. I don’t know where that one came from.
Isn’t that crazy? To get all this by posting pictures of your work.
What really makes me happy – what makes me proud – is when I post a picture and people are sharing it. I’m like – Wow! I never thought that would happen. It’s pretty cool.
But I don’t like to be compared to anyone – like the next Guy Tang. I’m not. I’m just the next Ziad.
I just want to be me.