A session styling conversation with Brendan

Many hairdressers aspire to become a Session Stylist and long to work backstage at Fashion Week, style Celebrities and be assigned to Fashion Shoots. It’s not for the faint-hearted and can be a tough world to get into.

Brendan’s session work has flourished as much as his salon - he now works on commercial and editorial projects worldwide across the fashion, beauty and music sectors. Brendan draws on his expertise and knowledge gained from decades of experience, skilled in all areas of hair design.

From his work with international publications like Cosmopolitan, Vogue Italia, Paris L’Official, Velvet, Elle, and Tattler to his styling at fashion weeks worldwide, to events like the Cannes Film Festival, he has done it all. Designers like Cynthia Rowley, Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith have used Brendan to complete their runway looks.

Often asked for advice on Session Styling and what he loves most about it, Brendan was recently interviewed for an industry article. “What I like most is collaborating with the designer. Looking for current and future trends. It’s not just about following the trends; it’s about creating them and that’s really exciting.”

“While my heart will always be in session, opening my salon allowed me to have some stability. I still love working with my day-to-day clients, being part of a team and helping them progress in their careers really keeps me going.”

Read the full industry article and watch Brendan in action here.

How does he do it?

17 years is a long time, and Brendan O’Sullivan Hair and Beauty has sailed through it beautifully. Reflecting on the reasons for his continued success, Brendan says:

“Maintaining key values within the business has meant we’ve kept growing and improving. Whatever challenges you face over the years, it’s important to keep your thoughts firmly on the future.

Our vision has always been clear – to make every customer look and feel fantastic. We make sure all our plans and actions support this vision. Constantly measuring ourselves against our vision means it has become part of everything we do. Customer feedback is vital to us; we really do read every review, always thrilled by the five-star feedback clients leave for us. Recently we were voted ‘Best Hairdressing Salon’ in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire in the Muddy Stilettos Awards; it meant the world to us all.

No matter how experienced, I think there’s always room for growth; you should never stop learning. We have regular development meetings with all our team members, with both individual and BOS team training plans. I believe you can get better at things you’re already good at. For instance, we are known for being a great colour salon; to make us even better, we recently had a full day of training with industry colour coach Carolyn Newman – team members at every level gained something new.

It’s no secret that I love fashion and session work. Involving the team in fashion and backstage work encourages their thirst for continued learning and discovering trends. This offers more options to our customers, so everyone’s a winner. We regularly send team members on the UNITE Runway Ready course to help prepare them for backstage work at London Fashion Week.

I learned long ago that if you struggle to find time for something, or you know it’s not your strength, get someone else to do it! My Business Partner Wendy is amazing; we work together on future strategies; she takes care of day-to-day business and has a huge depth of experience. It means I can take time out for session projects without worrying. We have a wonderful Salon Manager and Receptionist who also helps the salon run smoothly. I outsource marketing and social media; being on top of all these management functions means we can support the business well. I’m immensely proud of our team.”

The future? I’m so excited about what’s to come! It’s great to achieve our 17-year milestone in 2022, and I look forward to implementing plans to make 2023 and beyond even better.”

Read more in a recent industry interview with Brendan.

BOS Time Travellers at London Fashion Week

Brendan O'Sullivan and the team created futuristic hair for Jaded Collective at their 'Time Traveller' show, London Fashion Week.

"Jaded Collective celebrate creativity, diversity and persistence. Our brief was Futuristic Hair so we designed gravity-defying looks expressing our vision of the future. All our team were involved in creating the bespoke hairpieces, we love having so much fun with fashion."

– Brendan

Real hair blended with dramatic hairpieces perfectly complimented the Time Traveller theme, along with show-stopping peaks and spikes created from natural hair.

Products: Schwarzkopf Session | Photography @roamingpixel | Videography @lucocreative


Brendan works the Wet Look trend at London Fashion Week

Brendan O'Sullivan works the Wet Look Trend at London Fashion Week for Oh Polly and Unite Hair.

"Our brief for the Oh Polly show was a wet, slicked-back look. It's one of the key hair trends for 2022 and we really enjoyed creating the hair."

– lead hairstylist Brendan O'Sullivan.

Fast fashion and high energy on the Oh Polly runway. Brendan and his team used Unite Hair products to work the fashion-forward Wet Look trend. From 'caught in the rain' with drenched strands tumbling over the face, to slicked-back shiny chic, and high-volume movement combined with a luxurious gloss. The looks were playful, refreshing, and dialled up the shine, reflecting the 2022 trend that's set to become increasingly popular.

Unite Hair products used to create the looks were Boosta Volumizing Spray, Blow&Set Sculpting Lotion,  Lazer Straight Relaxing Fluid, Smooth&Shine Styling Creme, Expanda Volume Root Energizer and GO365 Hairspray.

Photography: @grahamcannphoto
Video: @osullivanluke

2022 Hair Trends

As we approach 2022, Brendan shares his thoughts on hair trends for the new year.

"I love the looks we create through Fashion Weeks and Session Styling. Some however, are too high fashion for everyday wear, so I think about how we can translate runway style into wearable looks for our customers to enjoy. Here are my thoughts for 2022."

Constant Colour

Colour is a huge trend, and this carries forward through 2022. With mask wearing set to continue, there are many situations when we can't express ourselves through our face or make-up, but can show our personality and make a statement with hair colour.

Balayage will be as much in demand as ever and we love this technique, so individual and artistic. Customers can have as little or as much colour as they desire, bold tones or subtle. The effect is beautiful.

Block Colour gets heads turning. This trend is growing and we'll see more drama with block colour in 2022. Again, the technique can be subtler with a face framing or off-set block, or have mega impact with a half head block.

Street Colour is gaining in popularity. The bright colours bring optimism and fun, and can be incorporated into any style, for any age. Joining the vibrant pinks, blues, purples and greens we've seen this year are more earthy colours.


New Wave

Waves will make a big appearance next year and can be dressed up 'big blowout' style or worn in a casual, undone way.

Permanent Waves - yes you read that correctly - are making a resurgence. Forget the frizzy perm of the early 80s, today's products and techniques deliver waves with condition too.

If a perm isn't your thing, there are great professional tools available to create whatever degree of curl or wave you're after. Try a Curl Bar for lots of wave or a Smoothing Iron for gentle movement. Always with a heat protector and hold factor.

And for those with naturally curly hair, celebrate it! There are some great professional products to encourage and support waves, such as the Unite Hair 'Boing' range. Specifically formulated for wavy and curly hair, Boing offers condition, definition and hold.


Super Shine

Whatever the style, luminous hair will be so important in 2022. The great news is whatever your budget, there's a choice of permanent, temporary or instant methods to keep you shining.

Long-lasting lustre can be gained by having a Brazilian Blowdry technique. We use Kerastraight in the salon, it gives a shine and smoothness to the hair for up to 4 months without making hair poker straight.

Unite Hair Silky Smooth treatment delivers what it says on the bottle, as a temporary solution so your super shine will last for several washes.

For an instant shine boost, use a burst of Unite Hair 7Seconds Glossing spray all over your finished style.

And for an edgy look, Wet Look hair is back! This time used in a more natural way, like you've just been caught in the rain. The Wet Look and New Wave trends are a great combination!

Party hair inspiration

Your professional hairstylist will always be best at creating a party ‘up-do’ for you, but for party hair you can achieve at home our team are here to recommend the right tools & products to create your party style and keep it in place.

Simple and stunning...
To make life easy for BOS clients we’re giving party hair a KISS (Keep It Simple & Stunning!) by working up three looks - Party Pony, Super Shine and Adorned. Whichever you choose, combined with a great cut and colour you’ll look fabulously stylish throughout the festive season.

Power Pony or Low Pony?

The ponytail is a big trend currently! Worn up high for impact, volume and movement, or worn low for elegant sophistication. For both versions it’s important the hair before the ponytail is smooth, sleek, and stays in place – you can achieve this by using a cocktail of Unite Hair Conundrum Paste and U:Oil, smooth into position and secure your knot.

For the Power Pony then add soft curls with an iron or curl bar and apply Unite Hair Texturizer Spray and Expanda Dust to shape the pony.

Or for the Low Pony use Unite Hair Smooth and Shine with irons for a sleek look.
Finish both with Unite Hair 7Seconds Glossing Spray for long-lasting shine and GO365 Hairspray on medium hold to lock in your party pony.

Super Shine and Adorned

If you want to keep it simple yet stunning, Super Shiny hair always gets attention! Shampoo, Condition and Style using the Unite Hair Lazer Straight trio to smooth away frizz and add shine without weighing hair down. Blow dry and smooth with irons then finish with GO365 Hairspray on light hold and 7Seconds Glossing Spray for even more shine.

Adorning hair with accessories can transform a simple style into something head-turning. Try adding a sparkly hairband, brooch (take a look at the ornamental brooches Brendan used at Paris Fashion Week for inspiration) or incorporating glittery thread or tinsel in braids framing the face.

Brendan O’Sullivan talks Autumn Hair Trends

“As we approach Autumn the trends in the salon seem a little more daring. With the seventies influences we’re seeing this year, cutting is becoming more creative with more customers requesting a shorter, precision cut.

Styling product innovation has been exceptionally good recently which sits well with the trend for texture. Whatever style you choose, texture is a big trend for Autumn and great styling products help create the look. 

Short to long - Buzz, Pixie, Mixie, Mullet, Wolf – which one’s for you?

 Whatever length you prefer, these styles work brilliantly with the texture and layers trend, they are so wearable. A great haircut, colour for emphasis and the right products make them easy to style and wear, plus they can be dressed up or worn more casually. Key products for these textured styles are Liquid Volume by Unite Hair for texture and weightless volume, while TEXTURIZER Spray by Unite Hair is perfect for an undone textured look.

For our very daring customers, the Buzz cut in a bold fashion colour is a real statement and so easy to maintain. 

The choppy Pixie cut is updated with texture and movement, it’s really easy to wear.

The Mixie is a Pixie/Mullet hybrid, longer than a pixie and slightly softer than a traditional mullet shape.  

The Mullet is still very much on-trend for Autumn and it’s great to see how many variations there are now.

And for the adventurous long-haired client, we love the Wolf cut which keeps length at the back but has chopped into, sliced layers to remove weight.

Bob, French Bob, Lob

The bob is always in fashion and we love how the shape evolves with time. A chic, short French Bob

is becoming very popular, worn with movement in the hair and perhaps some waves or flicks for extra style. We’re being asked to do nineties style bobs with a middle or side parting quite frequently, updated with creative colouring techniques to personalise the look. And the Lob long bob remains as popular as ever, easy to wear up or down and looks fabulous with artistic colour such as balayage to really emphasise movement. Key products for these bob styles are Tecniart Liss Control by L’Oreal for a smooth, sleek blowdry and for a high gloss finish, Unite Hair Smooth&Shine cream. To hold waves and flicks, try Unite Hair Session-Max finishing spray.

The Shag and Curly Shag

Whether soft or shorter layers, the Shag is such a versatile style and for Autumn we have the Curly Shag with a fringe to give a squarer shape. Chopped-into layers create weightlessness, volume and movement and with the correct styling products you can just blast-dry and go. Key products to support the look are Tecniart Density Material for volume, texture and hold and Tecniart Savage Panache spray for exceptional volume with a dishevelled, texturised finish.

The Shag and Curly Shag

2021 Has been all about fringes and this is set to continue – curtain, mod, wisp, 70s flick, and particularly a fringe that is shorter in the centre going longer towards the edges. Think Farah-Fawcett, Debbie Harry, Margot Robbie. Depending on the type of fringe we can either create a soft, face-framing style or dramatic impact with something like baby bangs contrasted with a one-length bob. Key products for these looks are Elevate Mousse by Unite Hair for a full-bodied style with shine and movement, 7Seconds Blowout Crème by Unite Hair for a smooth, shiny finish and GO365 Hairspray by Unite Hair for soft, medium or strong hold – the choice is yours!”