Natasha Naegamvala is a celebrity hair stylist in her own right. Having cultivated her own technique and style, she is known for creations ranging from classic to upbeat and everything in between. If that weren’t enough, Natasha continues to increase her artistic collaborations with Wella Professionals.
TheGlitz went to the source — Natasha Naegamvala’s salon, Nalini of Nalini & Yasmin — to see how this power hair stylist and mom mystically transforms looks from grunge to glam! Armed with some burning questions, I sat down with this seasoned stylist as she dished out her classic musings on life, work, and self-expression. Stunning and hospitable as always, Natasha scored a bull’s eye.
Read Natasha Naegamvala’s personal style below, spilling pearls, and, most importantly, take notes—this glamazon is influencing looks and you don’t even know it yet.
How do you start each morning?
I’m embarrassed to say that I’m a late riser. I sleep late, so I get up late. After which I have a nice shower and my coffee, and then I leave for work. It’s literally a rat pack. But I always feel that’s a more productive start to the day. I don’t give myself time to start the morning slowly. But yes, I wish I could start my mornings earlier so that more work could be packed in.
Tell us about your creative collaboration with your mom, Nalini.
When I first started working, my mom was very busy with her work. This was in the late 80s; I had finished my 9th standard and was going to the 10th. My mom got me into the salon like she did with my sister and aunty Yasmin did with Dilshad. Mom was at the height of her career. She was so busy that she didn’t have time to look at anyone except her clients. So I was never under my mom’s wings, so to speak. I trained under Kanta.
In 1993, I joined an airline, and later, I moved to the Emirates. Then I came back, and this time I went under my sister’s wings. She trained me, and I can easily say that my sister was the biggest influence in my hairdressing career. Her take on hairdressing fascinated me. She got me to see hair as a live subject in the fact that it has movement.
So I actually never had any creative collaboration with Mom. But yes, she influenced me because of her love for the job. I always saw her get a lot of satisfaction from the job, and that influenced me to love my job as much too. I saw it from the get-go, and that is what I ingested. But I don’t see her influence on me on the creative side.
How does the creativity of being a stylist reflect on your priorities and goals?
If I can reiterate, my job is such a people-oriented job. If I am able to give clients the happiness and content that they want, it gives me my own personal direction. I always wanted to further that. I wanted that to be at the forefront.
I’ve become the type of stylist who does less work only because I have learned so much in the past 35 years, and I want to give all that I’ve learned and absorbed to my clients. I don’t want to limit what I do. I want to give them the entire experience. My priority is to do less work, and I want to learn and know that my client has walked away satisfied. I am no longer wanting to do 8–10 clients. I want to take just 3–4 clients and give them the entire experience.
How would you describe your work-life balance?
I like my work-life balance. I’ve always maintained a very disciplined work-life balance. When I’m working, I work very hard. When my personal life is at the forefront, I focus only on that, and my team needs to know they can’t reach me even if the roof is falling down.
I don’t want to just lose myself in my work. I want to strike a balance between my work and life. When I leave the salon, I leave the salon. When I’m at work, I am at work. When it is my birthday, which is on April 28, I don’t go to the salon; I take four days of leave, and those are the days I give myself completely.
If you could pin down your success to one thing, what would that be?
One of the things that I did was extremely smart; I jumped at the opportunity to be the creative stylist for Wella Professionals in 2000. I was still young and relatively new in the industry. I was a little insecure. I wasn’t as experienced as one would want to be. So when I jumped to Wella, I think this was the best decision I’ve made. It helped me when I was training. I travelled a lot on the job. It was really a good decision.
Where do you turn for inspiration when you are feeling creatively blocked?
Everywhere! I remember hearing that you can find experience everywhere. I think it was Adhuna who said this. She said, “Look all over.” Look at people. India has become more experimental with its hair. I too look around and at people and have an insight into their style, aesthetics, and how they mould themselves—almost to the point where I’m ogling at them. I’m a very literal human being.
My inspiration comes from people. I’m a very natural person. I never have my nails painted. You’ll find me without makeup. Like me, there are so many individuals who are different. The entire practice of watching them helps me learn more about them.
What’s something you are committed to doing every single day, no matter what?
I wish I had the time to do yoga, but I do it as much as possible. The practice has fascinated and intrigued me and shown me how ingénue it is. My husband is my yoga teacher. I fell in love with the practice because of the practice. I fell in love with him because of him. I’m at a point in life where I appreciate the physiological aspect, and I’m starting to lean towards the spiritual side too.
What’s your biggest hair tip?
Treat hair with respect. We need to respect our hair. Most people don’t realise how well their hair treats them if they treat it well. I was very callous with my hair. But now I’ve started nurturing it.
What’s your favourite on-the-job soundtrack?
There’s not just one soundtrack. But if I had to choose a genre to keep the energy in my salon, it would be very housie. It keeps the energy up. If one’s feeling down, people lean towards sad music. Music really has that effect. So I prefer generic, high-energy music that keeps the salon energy up. Music is played for the energy of the staff and the client.
What hair tools are your absolute must-haves?
The dryer. The iron. If one understands how to use it, it has multiple effects. If the iron is not used correctly, it can cause damage. We haven’t jumped on that bandwagon yet. So I say, please use heated tools, but use thermal products as well. Another must-have, if I may say so, is the Dyson air wrap. It’s quite the ingenuous tool. It gives soft, bouncy, loose waves. It’s an expensive machine. It doesn’t suit all hair types. But it’s a great appliance.
Are there any trends that you follow for hair?
No one particular trend will necessarily last too long. Individualism is the world now. Bob is a trendy hair cut, but I don’t know if clients will do it simply because it’s in vogue. They pick hairstyles that suit them.
Best hair amongst celebs
I can speak about Radhika Apte because she is my client. Radhika has made choices for herself that haven’t been dictated by trends. She wanted to cut her hair short, so she had a short bob for some time. I find that celebs don’t experiment with their hair so much because they feel they won’t get work. So they end up looking similar.
If there were any male actors that permitted themselves to experiment with their hair, they were Aamir and Saif, and that was under Farhan during “Dil Chahta Hai” days. They changed their aesthetic. But that was so many years ago. So now, for me, nobody comes to mind. I give Kangana a lot of credit because of the type of roles she has played. She wore her curly hair in all its glory.
But again, in the entire industry, I love to be corrected, and I’ll happily own it, but nobody comes to mind. I watched an interview with Nichole Kidman, who said she has been straightening her hair for so many years that she really doesn’t know what her curly hair looks like any more. So that unfortunately is the case with most celebs.
Fill in the blanks…
Every Stylist should be… confident, but not overly or underconfident.
You never leave the house without… my lip balm
One extra hour every morning will be spent… practicing yoga, cooking, or eating the food I cook. I end up eating the night before. I wish I had the time to cook better food.
Met Gala look or out-of-bed look? … out of bed look. People who are confident in their own skin, make me very happy.
If you weren’t a stylist… I don’t know! From the very first time I did a hair cut on a client and she was happy and content, I knew I was going to be a hair stylist for the rest of my life. If not this, perhaps a cook; I love food.
Where would you go for your complete makeover… I was in Dubai recently and went to a skin care brand, and I spent a lot of money there. But I must say, I’ve got amazing genes. My father, at 92, looked as if he were 70. My mom, at 80, looks young. So I know Im backed by my genes, but I still need to rely on others to take care of my skin.