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#HairGoals With Ashley Rubell

Because we know you’re as hair obsessed as we are.

EVOLVhers! We’re SO excited to kick off our brand new “#HAIRGOALS WITH…” interview series with an exclusive Q&A with professional hair stylist Ashley Rubell.  

We’ve been stalking her beautiful work for a while and totally FREAKED when she told Mane Addicts that WonderBalm is one of her on-set kit “must-haves.”

Now we got the chance to pick her brain about her career, her routine, and, of course, her favorite products. The fact that she dropped a Clueless reference was just the cherry on top. Read on and thank us later!

When did you start your hairstyling career?

I started my hairstyling career in 2007. I was working at the front desk of a salon and spa in Santa Barbara, CA where I was attending college and my salon family encouraged me to take advantage of the city college’s cosmetology program. I didn’t feel confident about my major at the time, and the program was only a year long, so I decided to do it in an effort to buy time and acquire a monetary skill while still working in the salon nights and weekends as both a receptionist and a salon assistant.

How did you know it was the path for you?

I’m always thinking big picture. I didn’t pursue this path because I knew I wanted to be a stylist. I have always been more motivated by the lifestyle I wanted for myself. I hadn’t done any traveling and it was my biggest desire in life, and I always felt deep down that my job would be the thing to literally take me places. I liked the idea of having a skill that I could barter my way around with if need be, have the flexibility to work or live anywhere in the world, and always be able to find or create a job for myself.

During 2008 when the recession hit, I would work in the salon and recognize that while clients would come in and complain about their financial woes and their tips weren’t nearly as generous as they used to be, they were coming in more frequently because when life got hard they still wanted to feel good and look good… that was a shocking realization to me.

After that I went back to school and studied psychology and social behavior, haha, but I also decided to explore the career option more seriously because I clearly saw that the demand for a hairstylist would never cease. It felt like more of a practical business decision than the pursuit of a passionate pastime or hobby. There were affirming factors that came into play later down the line… like finding out my grandfather and his father and grandfather were all hair stylists, or particularly when I realized I could work on movie/commercial sets and photoshoots.

I was raised in Los Angeles and spent every Friday on the set of a Warner Bros. TV sitcom with my uncle who was a film major and assistant to a producer there, so once I found myself on set for the first time it really felt like home in a way that the salon hadn’t. That’s when I really knew it was a path worth pouring myself into wholeheartedly.

Do you have a particular signature or specific approach to your styling?

My approach to styling is very organic. I like taking a free form approach to my cuts and my styling techniques based on the movement of the hair, and work with what it’s showing me it wants to do that day, what it's capable of.

I like to understand my palette, its habits and traits, before I go in and do my thing. I have just as much to learn from my clients, if not more, than they have to learn from me because they’re the ones that know their hair better than anyone else.

Technicality is important and necessary, but I am not a technical person. I learned the rules so that I could break them. Cheesy, I know, but so true!

What has been your favorite campaign or shoot that you’ve worked on and why?

My favorite campaigns have been the ones I worked on with a lifestyle apparel line called The JetSet Diaries mainly because we get to travel to the most beautiful places. I’ve been to Jamaica, Morocco, and Spain with them. We’re always such a small crew which keeps things intimate and relaxed. They’re really chill to work with, super fun to travel with, and I’ve made some hilarious memories and great friends from those shoots.

Do you exclusively use clean beauty products on clients?

I do not use any type of product(s) exclusively. I think that’s a huge part of my job — to understand what’s on the market and what types of products people are using, and whether product use is based on a set of values like clean beauty is, or if it’s driven by influencer popularity, price point, etc. These are all factors that I need to take into account and gain knowledge on in order to best serve the versatility of my clientele’s needs.

I specifically have a huge interest in clean hair products at the moment because I think the hair industry is really behind in its product development within the wellness space. Everyone is thriving in that space but us. I think hair styling products and eco-friendly packaging in particular have a lot of catching up to do!

I’m about to be a mom, and a lot of my clients are moms with young children. I always ask them to step outside when it comes time to use any strongly scented aerosols so that the infants aren’t exposed to the fumes… but then, we still are. And some of these scents have become intolerable during pregnancy!

All that to say, I’m extremely interested in following and participating in the development of clean haircare right now.

Which EVOLVh products are your favorites to use on yourself and/or clients and what do you love most about them?

I love to use the Ultimate Styling Lotion on my hair when I travel. I go back to the west coast a lot where the water + the weather dry out my hair so much, and this lotion saves me after every wash. It puts lightweight moisture back into my hair and helps my hair air dry its natural waves beautifully and frizz free. It’s also a life saver product I take with me when I go camping. It gives me my best natural texture.

I use the SmartVolume Leave-In Spray after a lot of my hair cuts. I usually do dry cuts and afterwards I’ll mist some SmartVolume to blow dry in a natural-looking volume at the crown and help strengthen the freshly cut strands before putting any heat on them.

What is your go-to style for a natural look on a client, and which EVOLVh products help you create it?

I keep WonderBalm in my kit always. It generously assists in shine, separation, and smoothing so no matter what the style is I can rely on that product to enhance a natural look without adding weight, oil, or slip.  

When it comes to your own haircare, what is your routine like and what are some products you can’t live without?

I have to shift a bit in my haircare routine based on the seasons and where I’m traveling to that month. I wash my hair about every third day. I exercise a lot, but my hair is pretty thick so I don’t need to rely on dry shampoo or anything like that. Sometimes I’ll wet my hair and condition the ends but skip shampooing my scalp, and sometimes I just use a shower cap.

I don’t like to brush my hair often, if at all. I use a leave-in conditioner spray on my hair when I get out of the shower and comb through with my fingers to pull out any strands that a brush would normally catch, and then I sleep on it wet which gives me a beautiful beachy wave pattern in the morning. If it ever gets too kinky I’ll tap through certain spots with a flat iron the next morning. I like to keep a texturizing wave spray around, wet or dry doesn’t matter to me, in case my hair ever feels too smooth or soft so I can add grit and body back into it. For static, I keep a moisturizing balm or creme on hand for my ends.

About every other week, I’ll give myself a blow out at home. It’s nice to have that Cher Horowitz hair every once in a while, with the air-y volume on top that keeps me from having a set part and enables me to flip my hair around more often. It’s a workout in itself, but I always get compliments.


Stay tuned for some hair-torials from Ashley coming oh so soon! | @ashleyrubell