In our series Behind the Curtain™, we get the scoop on the routines, careers, and more of those working so hard behind the scenes to make celebrities look stunning.
Jennifer Yepez might just post more images of Gigi Hadid on social media than the supermodel posts of herself. No, Yepez is not a fangirl — rather, she is the stylist behind some of the supermodel’s most covetable hair looks. “Instagram® is sort of your portfolio these days,” the 30-something-year-old says. This rationale explains why Yepez’s feed is interspersed with the likes of Emily Ratajkowski, Candice Swanepoel and, yes, the other Hadid sister. In a sea of bombshell clients, the tanned, tousled, and incredibly toned Yepez can be tricky to spot. One tip-off is the geotag, which is usually Bali, Mykonos, or another unthinkably glamourous hotspot.
Breezy as her life appears, it was not always so enchanting. “I didn't get where I am by chance,” Yepez says of her success. “I worked super hard for 10 years on the fashion side. I assisted and carried very heavy bags, getting paid a hundred dollars a day. Traveling wasn't glamorous [back then].”
We sat down with Yepez to get the scoop on the harsh reality of success, her favorite hair looks (can we recreate them at home?), and her opinion on injectables.
Spotlyte: How would you describe your artistic style?
Jennifer Yepez: My hair looks are sexy, voluminous, and iconic. If you looked at any of my girls that I do, there's always a sexy feel to it, but also a very chic element. Whether it's Cannes Film Festival™, Fashion Week™, or the Met Gala™.
Spotlyte: What are your favorite looks that you've done?
JY: Oh my God, I have a few. One was Laura Harrier’s look last year at Cannes. We did a bang — like a Breakfast at Tiffany's sort of thing. Another favorite look is when I gave Salma Hayek a pink wig at Cannes.
Spotlyte: Are wigs something you frequently use?
JY: I used wigs to do a few super short hair looks with Emily Ratajkowski. Pretty much all of Emily's short wigs that we've done, people are like, "Oh my god, did she cut it?"
I’ve used them with Zendaya, too. She had three different looks in 72 hours once in Paris. We braided cornrows and made sure it was super tight and chic for one show, and then I sewed a wig on top of that in the car so that she had a different look.
Spotlyte: How did you amass such an impressive list of A-list clients?
JY: It's always word of mouth. With Instagram, maybe you'll pop up [on someone’s feed], or they’ll say, "I love this hairstyle that you did on Emily." So now Sophia Vergara may want it, or Jessica Alba. That's how it evolves.
Also, a lot of celebrities want to be creative, and also they want something that's quick. That's what I deliver. I can create a look on the plane, or in the car when we only have 20 minutes.
Spotlyte: Who were some of your first clients?
JY: I'm super blessed [with timing]. I worked with Joan Smalls [when she started becoming] almost like a celebrity. And then I got to feature her [on Instagram]. So other people got to see my work.
Spotlyte: How does your Latina heritage and background shape your approach to beauty, if at all?
JY: Oh my God. What Latina doesn't love beauty? I think as a kid, you grow up with it. You see your mother, your grandmother go do their hair and makeup to go to the grocery store. They actually put the effort into it. They'll do a roller set before they go to sleep.
I work with a lot of Latinas, which I'm super proud of, [like] Sophia Vergara, J-Lo, Salma Hayek, Jessica Alba, and Georgina Rodriguez. To me, these are powerful, professional women that do great things.
Spotlyte: Any tips for getting the sexy undone volume look you’re so well known for?
JY: Always prep with a volumizing mousse. I’m loving The Mane Choice® Peach Black Tea Volume Mousse ($18). I like to use a lot of product, because I don't want to have to reapply it again. With a volumizing mousse, it kind of reactivates, even if you go to the gym and sweat. I know that sounds horrible — but you get even more voluminous hair!
When I have my hair done, I want it to last at least two days. I think if you wash your hair all the time, you're going to lose the elasticity. Your hair just gets dry. So if I style a girl I use mousse. If your hair gets oily, use a dry shampoo and just blow dry it out to get even more volume.
Spotlyte: What is the biggest misconception about your job?
JY: [People don’t understand] the [years of] training that go into it. Nowadays, people just see a pretty girl, do her hair, take a photo, and Photoshop® it. Then they say, "Oh, this is hair." But you actually have to work [on your craft].
Spotlyte: How so?
JY: I assisted Guido [Palau] for 10 years. He's hardcore. He makes you learn how to move quickly, how to cut corners. He would be hard, or yell, and say, like, "Get it done!" The thing is, you do need to get it done. If you're sensitive, then maybe you shouldn't be in this business. I love Guido. [Read more on Guido Palau’s work and legacy here.]
I will never regret any day of assisting, because it was such an amazing learning experience. You can't buy that. And now it almost doesn't exist.
Spotlyte: Other advice for aspiring stylists?
JY: You've got to toughen up a little bit. You've got to have some thick skin, because there are days where we work ‘till 2 a.m. popping wigs for shows, and then the next day at 6 a.m., and you want to sleep, and you're so exhausted. And some days you just cry, and you're just like, "I'm so tired." But I wouldn't be where I am if I hadn’t had those experiences.
Spotlyte: We have to ask: how do you stay in such phenomenal shape with all the travelling you do?
JY: I hate the treadmill! There's nothing worse than getting off a plane thinking to yourself, "Oh my God, do I have to do the treadmill?" I love boxing. But a lot of times when I travel to Europe, I can’t find boxing, so I do a lot of weights. Or, I jump rope — even if it's just like for two minutes.
For weights, I would advise starting off with whatever feels comfortable. You never want to strain yourself — if you do, you won't be able to work out in the long run. So, generally try to push yourself [just enough]. But if it feels too easy, then you're not working. I try to do 20 or 15 pounds with dumbbells
Spotlyte: What about food?
JY: I take an energy supplement called ON™ Amino Energy ($34). Also, I have celery juice in the morning on an empty stomach.
Spotlyte: Do you eat a lot of meat?
JY: Not really. I tend to eat more fish. And then, occasionally, I’ll have a cheat day. It’s hard when you travel. I like to drink, so I try to drink tequila soda. Or, if I'm at home, there's these ice drinks that taste like grapefruit but have zero calories.
Spotlyte: And then as far as skincare, what's your routine?
JY: Joanna Vargas is my go-to facialist. She's amazing! I go to her for oxygen facials. I do a Triple Crown™ [facial] if I have an event to go to. I also use her products.
Spotlyte: What about nighttime skincare?
Spotlyte: Do you do lasers?
JY: No. I am anti-laser only because I love the sun. I like to tan, and I know that once you do the lasers you can't be in the sun. So instead of lasers, I just do a lot of skin care. I just go to Joanna a lot — I basically live at her spa.
Spotlyte: Do you have an opinion on injectable wrinkle reducers?
JY: I think at a certain age [if you have moderate to severe wrinkles], I'm like, "You know what? go for it.”
Spotlyte: What about filler?
I like filler. I'm for it.
[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face, including the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet. Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, both injectable wrinkle reducers and injectable fillers have potential risks and side effects. Talk to a doctor to see if they’re right for you. And learn more now by chatting with a trained aesthetic specialist.]
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