“I’m dying to get my hands in your hair.” That’s the note stylist Andre Walker sent Oprah in 1985, after seeing her on the talk show AM Chicago. “Back then it was just Oprah, one publicist, and one producer,” recalls Walker, who at the time owned a Chicago salon. The bold declaration earned him a tryout, and three years later, he was working with Oprah full-time. After decades of constant styling, Oprah says, Andre is “why I still have my hair.” He shared his secrets with us—and gave us the scoop on his new line of shampoos, conditioners, and styling products.
1. What are the three things we should all do to have beautiful hair?
Condition. Condition. Condition. Whether you think you need it or not, use a conditioner every time you shampoo, and slather on a thick hair mask once a week (I just launched a Keratin Mask and Treatment Pak that you can leave on in the shower for five minutes). Restoring moisture to the hair is really important to help repair dry ends and add shine.
2. Anything we should never do?
I don’t believe you can do two chemical treatments at once and still have healthy hair. If I’m putting a relaxer in her hair, I don’t do color. And if I’m doing color, no relaxer. Because heat is also very damaging, I try not to use blow-dryers or irons on Oprah’s hair more than three times a week. Lately I’ve been doing ponytails to stretch the time between blow-dries. With a little height on top, a pony can look very polished.
3. You’ve created hundreds of hairstyles for Oprah. What’s your favorite?
I’m happiest with the ones that she’s been happiest with. For her 50th birthday, we did a short, choppy look with a bit of a flip. She often looks back and says, “I really love that hairstyle.” Of course, she also reminds me of the styles that weren’t so great. But in my defense: It was the ’80s!
4. Who did you develop your new line for?
I wanted products that are appropriate for all hair textures, all ethnicities. Everyone can use my keratin shampoo and conditioner and my hair oil. As the line expands, I’ll also develop formulas that target specific needs, like volumizing.