As one of the industry’s most sought-after stylists, Serge Normant is the ultimate globetrotter—a shoot in Paris one day; overseeing his New York City salons the next. The man behind Hollywood's most luxurious locks (he’s styled the likes of Julia Roberts, Reece Witherspoon, Gisele Bündchen, and more) sits down with T+L’s Katie James to reveal his tips and tricks for mastering summer hair—at home and abroad.
Q: What are some tips for protecting your hair during summer?
A: It’s all about using a treatment, especially when you’re away. A lot of people don’t give enough credit to what a treatment can do. It’s the same concept as using a cream to protect your skin against the sun or the environment. People think that it’s enough to just trim hair regularly, but you also need to protect hair—to nourish it and to make sure that it doesn’t dry out from the sun and the saltwater. If you’re going to the beach, apply a treatment and put your hair up in a ponytail or braid it. That way, the product is locked into the hair and will work from the inside out to restore it.
Q: What’s the ideal product to apply after a day at the beach?
A: If you’re coming back from a day at the beach, and you feel like your hair is slightly uncontrollable, hair oils and treatments can be really great. I recommend applying, then create a great side part and wrap hair into a low bun. This way, it gets treated at the same time that you have a natural sheen to keep you looking glamorous. When at the beach or near the water, sleek looks are especially great.
Q: What are some of the freshest hairstyles for summer?
A: We’ve been seeing braids all over the place for a while now, and though I do get inspired by these trends, I don’t think it’s sexy when a braid appears too complicated. Say you’re vacation in Capri and are going out for a fun dinner, I love a semi-wet look. Not greasy, as if you’ve just come from the beach, but sophisticated. I think it’s really chic and cool when you slick hair into a middle or side part, and then wrap it into a low bun or tuck it behind the ears and just let it be.
I also think a headband should be a part of every woman’s travels. If you’re in a place where the humidity is uncontrollable and your hair is a mess, a flat headband is classic when added to a messy braid or in a bun in the back. Those looks never go out of fashion.
Q: Any hair-care packing musts?
A: I always recommend bringing your own shampoo and conditioner, unless you’re staying at a hotel where you know they stock quality brands. Depending on the destination, hairspray is great for creating a sophisticated city look. Overall, I think a hairspray, volumizer, dry shampoo, and some type of dry oil is great. Dry conditioner is another smart option, because it provides hair with a natural-looking shine and vitamins—an added bonus.
Q: I want to step off the plane looking fabulous—not greasy or messy—what are your in-flight styling recommendations?
A: I fly a lot, and always observe people on planes. Usually, women with length will wrap the hair into a bun on the top of the head. I don’t really find this flattering, but when they remove it in the morning and brush it down, they have nice volume because the roots have been pulled up for so long, which looks good.
For a quick refresher, pack dry shampoo and a brush—an hour before you land, go to the bathroom, spray a little, massage the scalp, brush it out, and you’ll look great!
Q: Any global hair trends you’re seeing on the road?
A: In Japan, it’s a little more whimsical, and I’m always surprised about the hair color there. You see less bad extensions in Europe these days, but I also think that trend has slowed down. Honestly, I don’t know whether it’s because of TV, movies, and social media, but I feel that the geographical looks aren’t as distinctive as they used to be. A lot of people are wearing their hair in very similar ways on both sides of the world.
Q: Favorite summer destination?
A: I go to L.A. frequently for work. I think I've stayed at every hotel, and while there are more luxurious properties, the Sunset Marquis, in West Hollywood, is my favorite. I love the homey feel, and delicate, sincere service, which is somewhat rare, even at very high-end places.
My mom lives in Bordeaux and my brother in Toulouse, so I love vacationing in Southwestern France, even though it’s a place that’s very familiar to me. Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc is a classic, and Les Fermes de Marie in Mejève, near Switzerland, is an amazing hotel.
When I want to disconnect entirely, I go to Greece. There’s something so magical about the islands—especially Mykonos, Santorini, and Patmos. I love the mix of crowds that you find on Mykonos. The village is built like a maze, so I like to get lost on the tiny streets where you see local life, and then two right turns later you find tons of tourists—Germans, Italians, French, Americans—there's a little bit of everything, which is great.
Katie James is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @kjames259.