When Lisa Farrall started out in the industry, hair equality wasn’t a subject that crossed the average stylist’s mind. In fact, Farrall worked in salons where women with textured hair were regularly turned away – and it’s still an issue today. Her goal has always been to create a space where all hair types are welcome, and after years of honing her craft and working with kinks, curls and waves belonging to clients of all backgrounds, she has secured her place in the industry hall of fame as one of the most distinguished stylists of textured hair. Being a Caucasian woman working with texture, this journey wasn’t free from presumptions and unconscious bias, but the occasional look of confusion from a client didn’t put her down – and according to her skyrocketing career, nothing can.
How do you feel about inclusivity and diversity in the industry?
They shouldn’t just be ‘hot topics’ – but be visible all the time. I feel it’s my responsibility, as a hairstylist with a large platform, to spread that message to my followers, other stylists and the media. It’s something I’m hugely passionate about and I want inclusivity and diversity to be the norm.
Why did you choose to specialise in Afro hair?
I’ve been working in salons since I was 13. One time, I remember a mixedrace girl and her mum coming into the salon; the girl wanted her hair styled, but they were turned away because the salon couldn’t do her hair. The salon didn’t have malicious intentions, and they weren’t being racist – it was just about lack of knowledge. Later on, I decided to work in an Afro hair salon because I didn’t want to turn anyone away based on the colour of their skin or the texture of their hair. The stylists at the Afro salon didn’t know how to do my hair either, which made me realise that the hair industry was very segregated, so I wanted to create a space where everyone could get their hair done, no matter their hair texture.
How does your black clientele react when they see that you’re their stylist?
I’ve been in the industry for a long time now, so I’ve definitely earned my stripes! However, I remember that when I first worked in an Afro salon, clients would bypass my chair and I would sometimes get the odd look. But because of the society we live in, where not everyone can cater to every hair type, I took that on the chin. I worked really hard to get the reputation that I have, so most people know what to expect when they sit in my chair. But there are still a few moments of doubt. I remember when I went to LA on a shoot and I was with my assistant. The director instantly greeted her first, assuming that she was Lisa Farrall because she’s mixed race. He was really apologetic afterwards and I don’t dwell on it.
Are there particular celebrities who you’ve really enjoyed working with?
Most recently, Ed Sheeran. I did his hair for his and Travis Scott’s video Antisocial. It was a really fun shoot, where I was working with lots of different textures. The atmosphere was chilled, and the end result was phenomenal. Ed Sheeran was a lot of fun and so nice to work with too.
How do you feel about people making fan art using your work?
I think it’s absolutely amazing and I feel really honoured. When I’m doing hair, I see it as art. I see hair as a canvas and I like to paint or style it. So, for me, that’s that and my craft. When people turn my art into their own I feel like it’s this massive snowball of creativity. I couldn’t feel more proud that other artists would want to incorporate my art into theirs. It’s really humbling.
Why is it so important to you to be ‘real’ on social media?
Because social media is not real! It’s important for me to live my own truth. I feel like social media isn’t truthful; we put out what we want other people to see, and we can get so obsessed with other people, and absorbed in scrolling and feeling really bad about ourselves. It can be detrimental to your mental health, especially to young people. In a world of Photoshop and fake hysteria, I try to be an honest voice of reason which shows you that, even if you turn up with a topknot and no make-up, you’re going to be okay.