Beauty Secrets We Learned From Declan Sheils

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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.

When Declan Sheils was studying graphic design, he worked on Saturdays at a salon shampooing hair. In 2003, Sheils began doing hairdressing full-time, moved to London from Ireland, and never looked back. He then taught alongside world-renowned the Toni & Guy International Artistic team at the New Oxford Street Academy, gaining recognition for his work for being a finalist at L’Oreal and Wella competitions, and worked as Sam McKnight’s assistant for three years.

Sheils has been styling the hair of some of the biggest names in fashion and Hollywood, including Kate Moss, Tilda Swinton, and Karen Elson (as well as for some memorable shoots for CR) he still utilizes the skills he learned as a colorist at the salon, developing a decidedly retro aesthetic that makes ample use of color and volume. Here, CR caught up with the hairstylist about what he’d like to see change in the beauty industry and how to best style a wig.

Do you have a skincare routine?
„In the morning, I will use the Laroche-Posay Effaclar cleanser. And then, if I’m doing exfoliation, I’ll use the Kiehl’s exfoliator, or the Crème de la Mer. I do that usually once a week. Then, I use a Kiehl’s toner afterwards. I’ve got combination skin, so it gets quite oily but also dry. I find a lot of moisturizer is too heavy for my skin, so I tend to use a serum rather than a moisturizer. I quite like Rodial Snake Serum and if I feel like I’m going to break out, I’ll use Medik8 Retinol Serum in the evening. Then, if I am using like a moisturizer, I’ll usually use the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Eye Rescue Cream just around my eyes.“

Top haircare products right now?
„I use a lot of different products on my clients. I’m really enjoying Aveda right now, because I really like the natural and organic ingredients. They’ve got a really great [product] called Smooth Infusion and I use that before I start doing anything to the hair. I’ve been doing lots of big hair with loads of volume. If I’m doing something like that, I’ll use Pure Abundance, which is a volume range from Aveda. I quite like Mr. Smith products, which is a new Australian brand. Again, the products are all sulfate-free, cruelty-free, and vegan. I’ll use a leave-in conditioner and they have a really great product called foundation as well. It’s almost a prep cream that you put in if you want to build volume on top of the hair. When I’m finishing, I use Balmain products. They have a really great argan oil called the Argan Oil Elixir. It’s like a serum, so I usually finish with that to tame any fly-aways and frizz. In terms of finishing products, I use Hair by Sam McKnight. He does a great Modern Hairspray and there’s also a product called Cool Girl by Sam McKnight.“

Favorite hair moment you’ve done for CR?
„I did a video in Paris after Paris Fashion Week and one of the girls I did quite big [hair]. It was almost like Priscilla Presley hair. I really enjoy doing big ‘80s hair or slightly retro ‘60s hair. I can’t really pinpoint one specific style that I’ve done and I like working with movement. A lot of my friends are drag queens, so I’ve gotten a lot of experience with wigs. I like working with color, as well. Before our color-lifting session in hairdressing, I was in a salon working as a colorist, so my background is in color.“

Best tip for working on wigs?
„It’s a completely different skill-set between that and actual hair. I think the key for doing any kind of hair is to brush it out at the end and the finish of the hair. If you’re setting it on the runways, the most important part is the brush out afterwards. That’s something that I focus on and something that I do a lot when I’m working with wigs.“

What would you like to see change in the fashion or beauty industries?
„I think there’s a big emphasis at the moment on sustainability. I work with a brand in London called Mother of Pearl quite a lot and its whole ethos is about sustainable fashion and they source organic materials and fabrics that are kinder to the environment. I think there’s a shift not only in fashion, but also with consumers. Salon clients want to know if products are sustainable, cruelty-free, organic, vegan, or sulfate-free. I think also with packaging, we need to move away from plastic, especially for hair and makeup. We use so many products and it’s all just packaged in plastic. We need to find a long-term alternative to that. Glass is not very practical, because obviously we travel quite a lot but a lot of brands are looking forward and trying to correct that.“

What about the movement towards embracing natural hair?
„It’s crazy that we have to have a law to say that people should be able to wear their hair how it naturally grows out of their head. I think we’re seeing a lot of diversity, especially at fashion weeks and that’s reflected in the hair. I work with Afro-Caribbean hair, Asian hair, European hair, and I think we do need to have more diversity. It’s great that were moving away from the uniform look of the beauty standard and embracing what natural hair looks like.“

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