Behind every great head of natural hair, wig or weave is a hair stylist who spent hours tending to their clients’ textured tresses.
Leading today’s wave of hair trends and innovative techniques is a masterful group of hair gurus, whose work speaks for itself.
Celebrity hairstylists, like the names on this list, have all pushed the culture forward with their one-of-a-kind hair creations. Neal Farinah celebrated the beauty of Black hair in Beyonce’s iconic Black Is King by referencing traditional African hairstyles and recreating stunning headdresses. Kim Kimble was the visionary behind the head-turning hair pieces in BAPS. Ursula Stephen introduced Rihanna to the pixie cut. Yene Damtew is the wizard behind Michelle Obama’s luscious Inauguration locks. And wigologists like Arrogant Tae, Kellon Deryck, Tokyo Stylez, Tym Wallace and Jonathan Wright have changed the way we look at wigs forever.
Scroll through this list of Black celebrity hairstylists with blessed hands in the hair industry.
1. Arrogant Tae
The sought-after Chicago stylist was featured on Hype Hair Magazine in 2020 where we learned the backstory behind Tae’s ascension. Tae, real name Dionte Gray, witnessed the women in his family mater the art of hair. From there, he honed his skills at the Paul Mitchell School before taking a chance on himself and moving to ATL with $1,000 in his pocket.
The move paid off dividends as he began booking clients just weeks after. Then a viral moment with his best friend DreamDoll would skyrocket his following and career. According to Tae, “I have literally changed the way people think about wigs. When I do my technique, it can confuse people because they can’t tell if the client is wearing a wig. I just changed the game!”
2. Jonathan Wright
Dallas native Jonathan Wright has risen the hair ranks to become one of the most booked and busy celebrity hairstylists in the game. Wright has greased the scalps of Lil Kim, Sza, Doja Cat, Ashanti, Erykah Badu and so many more. While being known for his flawless wig application, he is known for his hair coloring skills. With over 1.2 million followers on Instagram and a clientelle list that speaks for itself, the “grind never stops” for Wright. In a DM exchange, he defined success as “a beauty and the beast type thing.” He compared the beauty to his hair designs and credited his business side for being the “beast.” “The beauty is in growing and changing the world. While business is ‘the beast that you have to let out to keep your business moving and going. Success is a beautiful sight to see.”
3. Tym Wallace
Tym Wallace is the mastermind behind Taraji P. Henson’s memorable mane at the 2021 BET Awards and beyond. With celebrity names like Mary J. Blige, Brandy MJ Rodrigez, he does all the girls, hunty! Wallace also slayed Nomzamo Matha’s asymmetrical fro for our May digital cover.
With a trajectory like Tym’s, there’s no doubt a divine calling over his life and career. The stylish hairstylist credits God for his success. “I define success by doing what you are called to do,” he told us via DM. “Purpose being fulfilled is the most successful thing you could possess. I’m a hairstylist by craft but my ministry is attached which is ultimately what God has called me to do!”
4. Kellon Deryck
Kellon Deryck is handsome, stylish and gifted. Deryck rose to prominence, in the hair world, creating realistic wigs and sew-ins through his flawless illusion technique. His clientele list includes: Megan Thee Stallion, The City Girls and Cardi B.
This celebrity hair stylist is about more than the unbelievably real installs on his clients, but their natural hair as well. Deryck can be seen. massaging Megan Thee Stallion’s scalp and tending to her natural curls – taking them from coiled to straight in a healthy process.
5. Yene Damtew
Yene Damtew is the Black woman behind First Lady Michelle Obama’s trend-worthy Inauguration hair. Though Damtew worked with the FLOTUS for over a decade, she made headlines news, in 2021, when she also trended on Twitter for slaying Michelle O’s swopped and springy tresses. Damtew gives all of her clients the celebrity treatment at her salon Yene Damtew Salon.
Earlier this year, she told our sister site MadameNoire, “Every person should be able to walk into a salon or shop and feel like someone on that team can provide a service for their specific hair needs. I’ve built a team of women who can do natural hair, treated hair, color, braids, etc. It’s 2021. Stylists should be educating themselves on how to do all types of hair, especially textured hair. It’s important to be able to service all clients and at least be knowledgeable.”
6. Tokyo Stylez
Tokyo Stylez’ career has much evolved since the beginning days of her career when she made realistic wigs for cancer patients. While Tamar Braxton was her first client, she was catapulted into the spotlight when she linked up with Kylie Jenner and introduced the personality to colorful wigs. “I am responsible for all her hair moments!” Tokyo told PEOPLE in 2018.
Stylez, real name Mia Jackson, has transformed the hair of your favorite celebrity woman. From Cardi B to Kylie Jenner, Stylez has served us unforgettable and icon looks while taking fans along for her own transition journey.
It’s safe to say Stylez is a pioneer in the game as she was also one of the first celebrity hair stylists to incorporate her own techniques to create the illusion of wigs that appear to be straight from their client’s scalp.
7. Neal Farinah
Trinidad born stylist Neal Farinah is the blending master and the wizard behind Beyonce’s most iconic hair looks. And his resume doesn’t start or end there. With celebrity clients like Nicki Minaj, Uzo Aduba and Mary J. Blige, Farinah is a top stylists who also caters to the everyday woman at his salon in Brooklyn, New York – something the experience guru is passionate about. Farinah’ work has been featured on the cover of Vogue, Billboard, Essence, Harper’s Baazar and more.
Farinah is also the visionary behind Beyonce’s ‘Black Is King’ hair looks. Sharing a piece of his proverbial pie, he told Vogue, “I felt like I had the pie, and this was finally my moment to share my pie. I wanted to give other young Black women and Black dudes in this industry a moment to shine.”
8. Ursula Stephens
Ursula Stephen is a veteran in the game with iconic hairstyling moments under her belt. From Rihanna’s pixie cut to Zendaya’s braids in Vogue, Ursula is a force in the hair world.
In 2012, she took Rihanna from bob to pixie cut – a look that originated out of boredom. ” “So, the pixie kinda happened because I got bored and Rihanna was really tired of the bob a lot sooner than people know,” Stephens told Essence in 2017. “She was on me about getting rid of it and I was like ‘You can’t, you can’t. Wait a little bit.’”
Ursula trademarked the term #Ursieonyourhair and with a salon in Brooklyn, New York you can have Ursie on your hair as well. Ursula is a fan of natural hair care and often works with Dove to enlighten Black women on products that work for our hair.
“Black women, we love our hair, but we’re not choosing the right products. And what we’re not doing, we’re not putting the time in,” she told us in 2020. “If you’re already going to wash your hair, just do the 20 minutes. Hello! It’s amplified textures — amplify your texture, amplify your mask! You can amplify any mask by going under a dryer, going under a steamer, and turn it up. If it says leave it on for five minutes, leave it on for 20 minutes.”
9. Kim Kimble
Kim Kimble is an OG in the game and has blessed the scalps of every celebrity woman from Beyonce, Halle Berry, Nicki Minaj, Zendaya to Taraji P. Henson, Tia Mowry and Vivica A. Fox. The self-made stylist is well-respected throughout the industry for her technique, roster of celebrity clients and decades long experience in the game. Kimble’s work ranges from editorials in Vogue to film.
Kimble created the elaborate hairpieces in B.A.P’s — a role that catapulted her career and led to a plethora of Hollywood gigs. Kimble has her own collection of healthy hair products that can be found in Walmart and Sally’s Beauty.
Kimble and her mother were also featured on the May cover of Hype Hair Magazine.
10. Alonzo Arnold
Alonzo Arnold’s infectious personality is one-half of his allure. The rising young wigologist often photographers himself in his incredulously real units. Alonzo’s 1.5 million followers, on Instagram, is evidence of his influencer power.
A wig from the ATL stylist, available on his website, will run you around $850-$1,400, but the quality of the finished product is unmatched! Arnold’s celebrity clients include Porsha Williams, Monica and Lah Luvie.
Despite his one-of-a-kind techniques, Arnold shares his methods in master classes and lace one-on-one trainings.
11. Nafisah Carter
International celebrity stylist Nafisah Carter has been featured in Harper’s Baazar, Sheen Magazine, Pop Sugar and more. Her Raleigh salon was dubbed, the “Salon Of The Future” by ABC 11 for providing an intimate, unique hairstyling experience.
Nafisah recently reopened her salon after shutting it down due to the pandemic. With her salon doors shuttered, Carter took the time to re-brand her salon and return with a glamorous new shop. When defining the success she’s experienced as a hair stylist, she says, “
“Everyone’s meaning, or level of success is different. I feel whenever you accomplish a goal that you set for yourself, then you become successful. I feel like I reached a certain level of success when I started traveling and working all over the world, because that has always been a dream of mine. I have worked and taught in places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Australia…. And to touch lives, and make people feel beautiful all around the world, is amazing. After that, I knew I had reached a level of success for myself in my career.”