“Whenever I’m doing Zendaya’s hair, it’s always a collaborative effort between her, her stylist Law Roach and myself,” says celebrity hairstylist (and The Glow Up fave) Ursula Stephen. The hair aficionado has made a name for herself teasing the tresses of some of the best-known beauties around, including Rihanna, Kerry Washington, Nia Long, Laverne Cox and, most recently, Zendaya, who has become red-carpet royalty with the help of her incredible glam squad and an ongoing array of head-turning looks.
So we love it when Stephen gives us the scoop on her superstar client’s latest look, as she did after Monday night’s 2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards. Zendaya—fondly called “Z” by Stephen—appeared on the red carpet looking, according to her own Instagram post, “like a fine ass unwrapped, caramel filled Hershey’s kiss.”
Stephen says, “After seeing her killer leather dress, we decided on a slick look with a deep side part. We had to add our own twist by keeping her natural texture in the back.”
As usual, Stephen gives The Glow Up a detailed rundown on how she made Zendaya’s wet-looking hair look so effortlessly chic (hint: It wasn’t exactly a wash-and-go). And as usual, we were impressed by the Unilever brand ambassador’s high-low approach to creating Hollywood-worthy hairstyles.
“I began by running a quarter-sized amount of Suave Professionals Avocado & Olive Oil Smoothing Leave-In Conditioning Cream [$3.99] throughout [Zendaya’s] damp hair, followed by a generous spritz of Dove Style+Care Smooth & Shine Heat Protection Spray [$4.99] all over to help smooth the hair and combat frizz while adding a layer of heat protection,” Stephen tells us.
“Once hair was prepped, I parted her hair to the side and began working Oribe Rock Hard Gel [$42] from roots to midlength in small sections to ensure each strand was coated before combing it down and behind her ears,” Stephen says.
“When I got the hair where I wanted it, I went in with my GHD Air hair dryer [$199] with the concentrator nozzle attachment and locked the slick look in by blowing heat down the hair shaft to ensure it was totally smooth and in place,” Stephen says.
“Next, I focused my attention on the back of her hair and revived the curl a bit with a combination of the Dove Style+Care Smooth & Shine Heat Protection Spray (pro tip: This also works as a light, leave-in conditioner, so it was great to revive some of the curl in her hair and boost shine), Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Hair Cream [$5.99] and Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray [$27],” Stephen explains.
Stephen continues: “Once the product was layered in, I switched out the concentrator on my GHD Air hair dryer for the GHD Air diffuser [$30], and diffused the hair in place until it was completely dry and ready for the night.”
“I finished the look by smoothing TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Shine Serum [$4.99] into the part area and a few inches down, followed by a generous amount of TRESemmé Compressed Micro-Mist Hair Spray Hold Level 2: Smooth [$4.99] all over,” Stephen says. “Once everything was set and dry, I sprayed Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil Dry Oil Mist [$25] all over for a final boost of shine.”
And because Stephen is such a sport, she also answered one of our biggest questions of the evening, which is how did Zendaya sit down in that sculptural dress, let alone make it to the ceremony?
Kind of comforting to know that that fashion statement was as complicated as it looked—and that Zendaya had a post-red-carpet costume change on deck, pairing her dramatic earring with a gorgeous off-the-shoulder, red tulle-and-tiered Carolina Herrera for her presenting duties at the awards ceremony.