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Mai Ha is a Manchester-based hair stylist and makeup artist. After finishing school, the Northampton native went to college where she took a film makeup course and also completed her hairdressing training. As a part of the Trevor Sorbie Manchester artistic team, Mai brought home first place of the L’Oréal Colour Trophy Awards 2018.

What makes her a standout hair stylist is the coherent artistic vision that can be seen running throughout her work. Heavily inspired by cutting-edge fashion, Mai enjoys experimenting with unexpected materials – such as paper cut-outs, strings, or metal rods – and incorporates them into hairstyles to create unique textures. Even when these materials are used as an aiding tool in shaping the hair, she doesn’t hide them, but instead accentuates them as part of the visual concept.

Photograph by Marta Julve

When did you know you wanted to be a hairdresser? I kind of fell into it, some of my friends were doing it and I didn’t know what I wanted to do at the time, so I thought I’d give it a go.

You also do makeup – do you focus more time on one over the other or is it a pretty balanced work load? Yeah, I would love to do more makeup work, but always end up doing more hair as people know me for doing hair more I suppose.

Photograph by Davide Sometti
Photograph by Rosemary Pitts

What is your favourite thing about being a hair stylist? I love the job. It’s always changing and giving me new challenges all the time. I never get bored of it.

You have a very interesting approach to incorporating non-hair elements into hairstyles and making them part of the texture and aesthetic. Where do you find inspirations for these hairstyles? I love the fashion industry and get a lot of inspiration from designers like Iris Van Herpen. She uses a lot of different materials apart from the obvious ones and still makes it look beautiful, so I adapt that concept for my hair ideas.

Photograph by Tom Connell

What was the single most time-consuming look you’ve ever done? Probably the paper looks, as they take so much time to make. And if you do the look again, you have to remake all of them which just takes a lot of time.

Last year you won the L’Oréal Colour Trophy. What was that like? And how important is it to receive recognition from your peers? It was amazing and it’s been such a good year. L’Oréal has given me lots of opportunities and I really enjoyed the journey I’ve been on. I entered the competition for a number of years and it was good to finally win it for the Trevor Sorbie team and for myself.

Photograph by Rosemary Pitts
Photograph by Xanthe Hutchinson

Are you going for a second win this year? I’m in for the men’s category this year. We will see. You never know because the competition gets tougher every year, but it’s always fun taking part in it.

What is your least favourite part about working in the hair industry? And what is your favourite?  When assistants work for free. I think that everyone should get paid for assisting. And my favourite thing is that there are always so many different opportunities in the industry.

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Photograph by Jack Eames
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Photograph by Craig Fleming
Photograph by Craig Fleming
Photograph by Craig Fleming

Photographs  Craig Fleming, Davide Sometti, Jack Eames, Marta Julve, Rosemary Pitts, Tom Connell, Xanthe Hutchinson
Interview Katharina Lina

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