5 Minutes With An A-List Barber

5 Minutes With An A-List Barber


From Ryan Reynolds to Jake Gyllenhaal, New York-based licensed hair stylist Kristan Serafino has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. She gave us her top-line advice on how to look good up top.

Receding hair is a big concern for many men – what should they do?

The biggest mistake men with receding hair make is they try to grow the sides out to disguise the issue. Do the opposite: take the sides down and switch up your facial hair. It’ll make anything that still exists on top look fuller. If there really is no other option, then shave it, including the sides so nothing looks too thin on top. The most important thing is to change up the cut as the recede happens – think of it like an evolution. Too many guys stick with the same look for too long. In my view, thinning hair is an opportunity to change it up – it’s fun.

Have you ever had to fix any disasters?

Other than when little kids take clippers to their own hair, it’s hard to know what constitutes a ‘disaster’ because maybe this was what the client asked for from their previous stylist? Maybe they have no idea how their hair got this way. Regardless, I look at it as a new beginning. I also tell any new client that it will take three cuts for them to see results. During the first, I’m working with what we’ve got. The second, I can start to put my own stamp on things and by the third, we should be able to take things in a new direction together. It’s a good idea to look at it long-term.

What do you tell someone who’s thinking about a whole new look?

My mantra is: as long as the hair grows, there’s opportunity for change. When it comes to finding a new style that’ll work for you, look at what you already have – length, texture, colour – and the features on your face. In some ways, men have it easier when it comes to change because we’re not just talking about the hair on the head. You can grow a moustache or beard if you want to. Very often, a change in facial hair might be the right place to start.

All hair eventually splits in the end, so you want to keep on top of that with regular cuts and by using the right products that don’t contain a load of chemicals or alcohol.

Give us a grooming tip…

With facial hair, skincare becomes so much more important. First, keep both the hair and the skin underneath clean and exfoliated to keep any dry itchiness or ingrown hairs at bay. Then, make sure you moisturise daily so the skin is in peak condition. Regular brushing will also encourage the beard hair to grow into the shape you want it to. All beards grow in different ways – and some men will experience patchiness – but the better condition it’s in, the easier growing it out will be. For the shave, if you’re right-handed, it’s easy to get the sideburn line perfectly on the right side. But when you switch to the left, it’s also easy to cut the corner off. Try to keep the razor perfectly parallel to the floor to ensure you get a straight line on both sides every time.

Are there any products you’re never without?

You’ll always find Sisley’s Sisleyum moisturiser in my kit. It’s pricey, but it’s the best. Its exfoliators are great, too. You only need a pea-sized amount though – guys tend to go through this stuff like it’s ketchup! Also, I’ve just launched The Best Paste, which now ships to the UK. In the pandemic, nearly 6m men bought hair paste – but this is the only one I use. We’ve done lots of research into what men want from their hair products, and found guys are generally only interested in shine and hold.  This paste does both and there are different strengths depending on what you’re looking for.


How do you use hair paste?

Always work with hair that’s 80% dry. If you put hair paste on wet hair the finish is so difficult to predict. Apply it with your fingertips (after warming it up in your palms) and start from the back, not the front. You don’t want the hairline to look greasy, so start at the back and work your way forward so there’s only a little left on your fingers by the time you get there. If you’re still not sure, there are QR codes on all my products which will direct you to a really simple online tutorial.

The most important thing to know is there are different finishes for different occasions – and there’s a product in the line to suit all sorts of shine and hold needs. I’ve had so many men say to me they’re a ‘matte-hold only’ kind of guy. But that very matte, messed up look doesn’t suit a back-tie do, for example. Remember, you don’t wear the same outfit every day, so why would you wear your hair the same?

What’s the best way to look after curls?

Hair creams are great for anyone with softer texture or longer curls. Very often, you don’t want it to look like you’ve got product in your hair, but you still want to coat the cuticle, so it looks smooth, beachy and healthy. Think Jason Momoa hair – or Timothée Chalamet curls. Frizz is the biggest issue here, so try not to touch the curls too much when they’re wet. Put the product into soaking wet hair and scrunch or dab it in. Then, let it dry 100% without touching it. Don’t fight it. Once it’s dry, you can go in with dry hands to break up any crunchiness or where the curls might have clumped together. You can also lift it away at the root for a bit of extra volume.

Any final words of wisdom on healthy looking hair?

Ultimately, it’s all about the health of the cuticle on each hair follicle. Think of it like tiles on a roof. When the tiles start to lift, things start to not look so good. The same goes for hair – you want to keep that cuticle flat so the hair looks soft and shiny. All hair eventually splits in the end, so you want to keep on top of that with regular cuts and by using the right products that don’t contain a load of chemicals or alcohol. Finally, find a hair stylist you trust. If they understand what you want to do with your hair moving forward, that’s the best long-term solution.

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