Linda Shalabi is a walking, talking, subtly effective example of her own professional services. The Swedish hairstylist is the New York fashion scene’s go-to expert for natural, lived-in hair, making models and influencers alike look like they #wokeuplikethis – only better. The way she wears her own long brown hair emphasizes her laid-back styling philosophy: healthy, natural and lightweight. With her professional expertise, personal style and positive attitude, Linda is a driving force of the Authentic Beauty Movement, encouraging everyone to embrace their inner beauty. She applied this principle when she styled the hair of Chloe Nguyen and Erika Palkovicova for the Authentic Beauty Concept photo shoot, enhancing the texture and natural beauty of each model’s own hair. Her editorial work for Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel, Vogue Taiwan and W Magazine is also informed by her desire to bring out the best in each and every individual person she styles.
We caught up with Linda to discover the best natural hair secrets and find out how she achieves an authentic look for her clients and for herself.
Authentic Beauty Concept: What does authenticity mean to you?
Linda Shalabi: To me, it’s being original, to follow your own path and follow your own truth … and that is different for everyone. You just follow your gut. For example, I always knew I wanted to do hair and I wanted to do fashion, so I followed that path. For me that is being true to myself.
How do you express creative authenticity in your work?
I guess you could say my work is pretty natural and simple a lot of the time. A lot of times when a model comes into the studio, I think that she looks gorgeous when she has no makeup and no hair done. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and realise this girl doesn't need much and have the courage to not go crazy. Just leave it.
Has your own style always been so natural?
You know, I do like natural hair, but I think everyone has to have their own style and not everyone wants to have a natural look, so why not try something different? Growing up, I experimented with crazy hair colours and crazy hair styles and I wore a lot of makeup, but now that I'm older I started embracing natural beauty instead. I'm not doing much with my hair and I like that style.
How does natural beauty relate to authentic beauty?
Authentic beauty to me is confidence. Whether that means wearing tons of makeup or no makeup at all, it doesn't matter as long as you are comfortable. I think that's authentic to me. I don't judge someone who wears a lot of makeup. If you feel comfortable and beautiful, then go for it.
What does reduced luxury mean to you?
I guess focusing more on what's important in life. We are living in a day and age where there's so much social media and materialism, but none of that matters if you don't feel good inside. Beauty for me is an inside job. You have to feel peaceful and be kind to people around you.
How do you create a modern hair texture?
I create a lightweight texture by using just the right amount of carefully selected products. If I want the hair to have a little movement, maybe I add a little bend with a curling iron, then add some shine. I think the most modern thing is to use what you have and not complicate it too much.
How do you let a personality shine through a strong look?
I work with the girls' own hair texture. A hair style is not always right for every girl. You have to use different techniques and different products for every girl, because it's very individual.
Linda Shalabi’s expert tips and product recommendations:
“If you feel the hair is too dry and you want some separation, add an oil to finish off a look.”
Wash curly hair with Hydrate Cleansing Conditioner.
“I find that you don't have to use a lot of shampoo because curly hair is naturally dry. If you over wash it, it's really damaging, so you clean the hair with cleansing conditioner instead because it hydrates at the same time as it cleanses.”
Keep your hair lightweight with haircare products formulated without silicones and parabens.
“I care about what’s in haircare products, but I pay even more attention to what's not in them. Formulas formulated without silicones and parabens make the hair more lightweight, don't weigh the hair down so much and don't create a film on your hair."
Use dry shampoo between washes.
“I wash my hair maybe two or three times a week and in between I use dry shampoo.”