Beauty Secrets We Learned from Akki Shirakawa

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In high fashion, there’s almost no such thing as effortless beauty. From facial treatments that leave your complexion dewy and luminous to the perfect winged eyeliner, experts reveal their most-trusted, insider hacks for CR’s series, Beauty Secrets.

Although wigs have always been instrumental in black women’s beauty routines, it’s only been a few years now since the fashion world caught on. From cropped pixie cuts at Haider Ackermann to Mia Farrow-like wigs at Moschino, designers have begun using the transformative nature of wigs to their advantage for their runway shows. One of the industry’s leading figures in the wig movement is Akki Shirakawa, who has concocted various tresses for recent Academy Award-winner Lady Gaga.

„Gaga is so fun to work with because she is constantly taking risks,“ he tells CR. „She’s not afraid to transform her character completely and it pushes me to come prepared with the most creative options. I usually prep multiple wigs, which takes lots of time, so we have enough choices to pick from. It’s a shame we only are able to shoot a few of the wigs at a time because I have so many.“

The Tokyo-raised hairstylist first started cutting his friends‘ hair when he was 10 years old, before borrowing his mother’s makeup tool kit and mirror stand to practice on himself. As he ascended the ranks in the industry, Shirakawa found himself training under hair master Luigi Murenu and creative director of John Frieda, perfecting beachy, tousled waves for the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and working with Carine on nearly every single issue of CR (in a true meeting-of-the-worlds moment, Shirakawa styled Gaga’s various wigs for her cover shoot for Issue 7.) Here, the wig aficionado breaks down his must-have haircare products, his favorite shoot with CR, and which hair style challenges him the most creatively.

Walk me through your skincare routine.
„As I started to travel more and more for work, I noticed my skin was becoming very sensitive and dry. Now, I start by using Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Cleansing Oil to wash my face, followed by the IPSA The Time Reset Aqua. I love this product because it actually helps other moisturizers absorb better to retain hydration. I usually finish with Pola Ba The Milk Emulsion for extra hydration, especially on planes where the air is dry. I’ll use the Kabuki Face Pack Isshindo Honpo sheet masks, too. Nivea Creme is also the best.“

What about haircare?
„I have long hair, so I usually get high-quality perms once or twice a year in Tokyo. For more regular treatment I’ll use the Aquis Prime Washing System to repair and keep my curls healthy-looking. For daily use, I apply Kerastase Elixir Ultime Oil Serum on my hair ends. I love the GHD Platinum + White Styler and Curve Classic Iron. So much about hair styling is about heat control and this product allows you to do it in an efficient way. The Y.S. Park brushes and combs are some of the best tools, invented in Tokyo, and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The Mason Pearson is a classic brush and I always feel secure with it in my pocket.“

Favorite hair looks you’ve done with CR?
„The high ponytail we did for Bella on the cover of Issue 10 was a simple, but powerful statement. The shape it made creates a fantastic, clean graphic silhouette that worked in tandem with the styling. What’s interesting about this hairstyle in particular is that it actually affects the way you stand. Your back muscles are pulled up slightly, so you actually stand taller. I added extensions to have the hair look more voluminous, finished by wrapping the pony with vinyl tape. The end result was a confident, sexy look that is very Bella.“

„Traditional Japanese hair styles are usually the norm when wearing a kimono. For [this CR Fashion Book Issue 2 shoot by Brigitte Niedermair], we wanted to turn that idea on its head. Long ago, Geishas used to wear a hair accessory called kanzashi, and while the styles at that time were mostly very tight controlled, the Geishas would let little strands of hair fall down the backs of their necks along the collar of their kimono in an act of slight defiance. At the time, this was considered very chic, sexy, and rebellious or what we’d call iki in Japanese. We tried to take this idea and keep the hair above the neck in another way, fighting with gravity, while maintaining the rebelliousness of the original style.“

What hair trend do you love?
„My 10-year-old son has long hair like me and he’s loving braiding right now, so I will help him with that.“

What about one you aren’t a fan of?
„I have always loved beautiful hair. Sometimes, messy, wild hair is not my favorite, but as a hair stylist I would say that it is our job to take a style we’re not a fan of and make it interesting. In that sense, hair styles that I dislike the most are usually the ones that push me the most creatively.“

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