Michael Douglas - The road to becoming a top TV Hair Stylist
Life as a hairdresser can take you pretty much in any direction nowadays as TV hairstylist, Michael Douglas, can testify.
Michael is now best known as the resident hair expert on BBC TV’s The One Show and, early on in his career, he knew that television was where he ultimately wanted to be.
Having worked in salons and done some session styling, Michael knew combining his hair skills with presenting was what would really make him happy, and it was through education and training that he ultimately achieved his goal. Like so many great hairdressers, Michael pretty much fell into a career in hair. He had toyed with taking a job in the forces and thought he could put his love of motorbikes to good use via mechanical engineering. But, hair won over after a friend of his brother started working as a hairdresser.
“It just sounded very cool and he seemed to be having a good time... My brother was working as a joiner which was really hard work and out in the cold so hairdressing seemed a much better option!”
His first job while still at school was in a salon in his home town of Leyland in Lancashire and, after a two year stint, Michael realised he was a good people person. He added: “All sorts of people came into that salon and I realised that working with them gave me a really good perspective on life in general.” A move to a bigger salon in Preston really opened his eyes to more career opportunities, and one hairdresser in particular called Gary Spencer took him under his wing.
“Gary was a bit older than me and had a lot of charisma. It was obvious that he was going places and he could also really cut hair... At that time short hair was big news so it was easy to see how good you were at cutting hair!”
Critically, Gary recognised that Michael had an outgoing and friendly personality which made him ideal for training and educating other hairdressers.
Big break with Wella
But, shortly after he started to work as an educator for Paul Mitchell, he had a bout of serious ill health which left him in and out of hospital for two years. When his health returned he got a lucky break and was invited to go for an interview with Wella by someone who had seen him working as a trainer for Paul Mitchell.
“I got offered a job at the Wella studio as an educator and that changed my life... I suddenly came into contact with the biggest names in hairdressing including Joshua Galvin and I was able to learn from them and incorporate their knowledge into my own teaching.”
Another visiting artist who came to Wella was Lance Lowe and he again inspired Michael to think about what he really wanted to do in his career. While he was thinking, Lance invited him to go and work backstage at New York Fashion Week where he found himself tending to the locks of Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer and lots more supermodels.
Michael's move into presenting
Fuelled by his experiences at NFW and his experiences as an educator, Michael realised that it was presenting he really wanted to get into, but knew he had to carve out his own style that would be engaging and fun.
“I always thought that the key to being successful as a presenter would be to make a bald man want to watch a hair show!”
Back at Wella, a role working in consumer products won him a job styling the hair of Davina McCall for a semi-permanent hair colour that could be removed. He clicked with Davina and, as her career took off with Big Brother, so did Michael’s as he became her go-to stylist. With more celebrities lining up, he decided to focus on his presenting aspirations and put together a show reel.
“We went out and filmed me in Camden Market, grabbing different people and giving them a quick hair make-over”
The show reel impressed producers at the Discovery Channel who commissioned 60 five minute pieces of Michael cutting hair in a wide variety of locations. The short films led to a series of longer shows that were aired on the Discovery Hair and Beauty channel and then syndicated all over the world. But, ultimately, the popularity of the roving stylist hitting the streets of the UK was what brought him to The One Show.
Unbelievably, Michael is the presenter who has been with the show for the longest time. From the pilot show 11 years ago to this day, his street barber pieces remain hugely popular and were a key in pulling in audiences of up to 7.2 million a night!
With the show still proving a hit with viewers, Michael plans to be on screens for a very long time and, like so many successful hairdressers, wants to use his success to inspire others to enter the industry. He believes hairdressers need to come together to show just how exciting and full of energy the world of hair can be.
“It’s not the role of teachers or head teachers to sell our industry to their students – it’s up to us... And if the campaign resonates with parents who see the potential and possibilities of a career in hairdressing, they will encourage their children to give it serious consideration.”
Michael has recently launched a new podcast with Davina McCall called "Making the cut", full of useful life advice, tips and recommendations.
Want to become a hairdresser?
As Michael’s career has shown, success as a hairdresser is not just down to your skills; it’s about having a positive and engaging personality, a passion for what you do and a real love of working with people from all walks of life. Want to be hairdressers take note, and get in touch! We offer traineeships and apprenticeships in Essex and London that allow you to earn whilst you learn the skills of the trade. Check out our hairdressing and barbering courses on our website here.