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A Peek Inside Star Stylists’ Travel Bags, Part 1

travel hair tools

Traveling LIght Is Not an Option When Every Day Is a Mane Event

When you travel, you pretty much know what you’re in for. From a beach getaway to a sophisticated city jaunt to your cousin Wayne’s wedding in Toledo, you have some idea of what to pack given the activities, weather and folks you’ll be hanging with.

But for star stylists on the job, it’s not so simple. Sure, they know to bring the basics in their travel bags: hair dryer, heat styling tools, combs, brushes, hairspray, bobby pins. But they have to take a more-is-more approach to selecting the tools of their trade: They have to be ready for anything.

Endless Options

Major hair gurus cater to demanding celebs prone to red carpet jitters and mercurial fashion designers prepping models for the runway. So what they stock in their kits for major events is, well, major.

Assembling a selection of the most efficient, reliable hair care items and equipment — keeping in mind the desires of pampered, persnickety clients — requires skill and ingenuity.

Take a lesson from the pros: Pack tried-and-true basics and also think ahead. If you’re considering extensions on your beach trip, or a sleek French twist for the wedding, be prepared — bring the requisite hanks of hair or firm-hold hairspray and hair accessories to spice the hairstyles up. And if you have a last-minute emergency, use your imagination! You can create soft curls by wrapping a tendril of hair around a sock and tying the sock to secure it. Then there’s the ever-popular hair-braiding method to achieve the ever so popular beachy waves.

Basics and Beyond

With a well-rounded repertoire that ranges from whimsical flower crowns to sleek velvet-wrapped ponytails, French-born Odile Gilbert is considered one of the most influential hairstylists in the world. She’s a backstage staple at Fashion Week in Paris, New York and Milan, and her work graces the runways of designers from A to Z — Armani to Zac Posen — and includes Chanel, Gaultier and Givenchy. She also collaborates with A-list photographers on shoots for the most prestigious fashion publications and ad campaigns.

Since she’s known for her broad range of styling ideas, it’s no surprise that her go-to gear includes not only the typical hairdresser’s haul, plus a “lifetime supply of bobby pins” — organized by size and color, extensions in every color, but also inspirational images, feathers and orange Day-Glo paint. She believes in bringing “everything — just in case.” Which is not to say Gilbert can’t improvise in a pinch: She’s had to wash hair with bottled water, and when her luggage didn’t arrive in time to get a model runway ready, Gilbert gave her beach hair using just water from the ocean and oil.

Heavy Duty

When it comes to loading his luggage, Ted Gibson — who charges $1,200 for a haircut and tends to the tresses of Angelina Jolie, Gal Gadot, Lupita Nyong’o and Jessica Chastain — doesn’t skimp on supplies either. He’s the first to admit he’s not the “little backpack” type and schleps a 67-plus-pound suitcase containing:

  • Two kinds of blow-dry styling agents
  • Mousse
  • Pomade
  • Six cans of hairspray
  • Two hair dryers
  • Multiple hair straighteners and curling wands
  • Nearly a dozen pairs of shears in different sizes for various hair lengths
  • “Tons” of extensions

and more, along with a tail comb tucked in his back pocket. He says he’s inspired “in the moment,” and if he doesn’t have everything at his fingertips, he feels “incomplete.” For the 2014 Met Ball, he threw in purple hair dye to match Nyong’o’s eye shadow.

Traveling Light

At the other end of the spectrum is Laura Polko, a minimalist who packs only the bare essentials in her star stylist travel bag. If she could use only one product for the rest of her career, she says it would be leave-in conditioner. With clients including Lea Michele, Olivia Munn, Chrissy Teigen, and Vanessa Hudgens, she’s known for perfectly imperfect styles that have been described as glamazon. Her stylist stash features:

  • The full line of Scunci hair ties, pins and accessories  (Polko reps the brand)  
  • Like many hair pros, she won’t leave home without her Marcel iron (an old-school manual iron used in the 1920s to make high-glam Hollywood-style waves)
  • She also totes a one-inch hair straightener — like the NuMe Megastar Hair Straightener — which does double duty creating textured as well as straight looks.

Balancing Act

Matt Fugate, Allure’s pick for purveyor of the “Best Blowout in NYC,” can’t overdo it when stocking his kit: He gets around town on his bicycle and must carefully curate and balance his equipment in two saddlebags and four backpacks. A Fashion Week regular, top editorial stylist and Project Runway veteran, he’s known for effortless bombshell hair, which he creates for clients including Adele, JLo, Brooke Shields and Blake Lively. Among his manestays:

  • Velcro rollers (Grandma’s customary curler is now a staple at the hottest fashion shows and photo shoots)
  • An actual brush cleaner (“a regular rigid comb tears up boar bristles”)
  • A diffuser (“Not just for curly hair. It’s perfect for when you want that air-dried, model-off-duty vibe fast: Twist your hair into little ringlets with your fingers and dry with a diffuser.”
  • A clipless curling wand with interchangeable barrels (“I have to be mobile, so I can't carry my 30-plus irons.”) The versatile NuMe Titan 3 Curling Wand, with 19mm, 25mm and 32mm barrels, creates ringlets, soft curls, loose waves and more.
  • The Topsy Tail multipurpose ponytail tool (remember those infomercials?)

Hair-aphernalia

Master cutter, hairpiece/extension wiz and red carpet regular Robert Vetica counts Scarlett Johansson, Naomi Watts and Salma Hayek among his A-list clients. The author of the 2009 book Good to Great Hair: Celebrity Hairstyling Techniques Made Simple, he insists these basics will get you through any hair headache:

  • A spray water bottle — the professional type, which spritzes a lighter mist — to reactivate styling products already in hair
  • Leave-in conditioner
  • Heat protector or styling agent, like NuMe Hi! and Dry Blow Dry Cream, to smooth, moisturize and add volume while guarding against heat damage.
  • Liquid silicone, like NuMe Boss Gloss Serum, to control frizz, tame split ends and enhance shine when applied to ends.
  • Gel — when mixed with styling cream, it’s great for sleeking hair back in a tight ponytail.
  • Firm- and medium-hold hairsprays — use NuMe Hair-Fie Ready Finishing Spray after setting hair on Velcro rollers;  spray on hands and smooth over finished hairstyle. A firm-hold spray, like NuMe Freeze Please Finishing Spray, is ideal when a style has to last all evening, i.e., on the red carpet.
  • Dry shampoo, like NuMe Dirty to Flirty Dry Shampoo Aerosol, for added body and grip

You Can Take It With You

Take a NuMe styling tool set on the road to keep your hair in top form wherever you are:

  • NuMe Jet Setter Pro, a six-piece heat styling assortment including a 6-inch mini hair straightener, 7-1/2-inch mini reverse curling wand, mini ionic hair dryer, concentrator and diffuser attachments, and heat-resistant glove, all in a convenient travel case
  • NuMe Blowout Boutique, a blow dry bonanza that includes everything you need to achieve expert  blowouts: our Bold Hair Dryer, concentrator and diffuser attachments, ionic round brush (43mm), Microfiber Hair Wrap, two hair clips and 30-piece bobby pin set — all in a convenient travel case

Discover more styling tools, hair care options and styling ideas by following us on Instagram @NuMeStyle, or sign up for our newsletter at NuMeUSA.com.

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