In the Kit

Meet the Hairstylist European It Girls Can’t Stop Talking About

Better yet, his salon uses 99% all-natural, organic products.

By: Hannah Baxter
Photography: Alec Kugler

It’s pretty clear by now that we’re willing to do basically anything in our search for the best of the best in beauty, but traveling all the way from New York to Denmark for a hair appointment might just take the cake. We had heard through the industry grapevine that if we wanted to find the perfect shade of blonde—for us, a grown-out, beige-y champagne—then a trip to Cim Mahony’s Copenhagen salon was an absolute must.

After successfully transforming into a Scandinavian princess (sparkling highlights and all), we spent the remainder of our afternoon chatting with the master hairstylist about his 25-year career. With his signature cheeky charm, Mahony divulged why he’s finally returned to a salon chair after two decades behind the scenes at editorial shoots, as well as the makings of his luxury hair oasis, and why the big beauty brands should be spending more time and effort on making organic, healthy hair products available to all consumers. Oh, and the story behind the leaf blower in the corner of the salon—he’s willing to do anything to get that perfect Instagram pic for his clients!

“I grew up in my mom’s salon outside [Copenhagen], so I was always around hair. It was a creative environment. [But] I did quite well academically in school, and my parents were really against [becoming a hairdresser]. I think, in a way, when I kind of grew into my teenage years, becoming a hairdresser was always a little bit of rebellion against my parents. I actually enjoyed the fact that I pissed them off [laughs].”

“It’s been 25 years of having a lot of fun and creating hair that’s not necessarily worn on the street every day. It’s only in the last three years, after we opened the salon, that I actually have had clients behind the chair again. It’s been really interesting because it’s kind of full-circle. Not that I have a lot of clients—I maybe have 10 to 15 clients that I see. You can’t book in for an appointment—we keep their number, and whenever I’m in town we will phone them up and say, ‘This would fit you now.’”

“I never thought that I was going to have a salon. We were like, ‘Maybe we should have a little private studio,’ and then it just evolved. [It’s] the same with [hiring] the hairdressers. Everyone has come to us. We haven’t been out there looking for anyone. I’m also seeing it from more of a commercial perspective than I was before. I think sometimes that’s the thing about growing older—you start seeing things from that side. It’s been quite beneficial for me to develop as a hairdresser in that direction as well.”

“There are so many times when you go to the hairdresser [and] there is such a hectic atmosphere you actually get stressed from it. So the first thing we did is say, ‘OK, we don’t want to ever have more than one client per person at one time.’ So no one ever doubles up on clients. We don’t have assistants that blow-dry or wash the hair. You’re with one person all the way through.”

“Even though I don’t have a huge following on Instagram, I think I have a lot of people [following] that are well-connected. I think for us to be able to get all this attention to Copenhagen, it wouldn’t have been possible before because nobody would have seen that we’re here. It does seem like the world has become much smaller because of that. People have opened their eyes to the fact that it doesn’t have to be only New York, London, and Paris. When you have to be creative, and you put a lot of effort into your job, it’s really nice to be able to step away and see it objectively.”

“We focus on sustainability and green, clean skin care and hair care. It’s something that I’ve been working [on] for the past 10 years. I used to work a lot with big product companies, [and] in the meantime, all the food I was eating was organic. In my personal life, I was making all those choices, and I just felt it would be really great if I could make those choices in my professional life as well.”

“My wife was coming off maternity leave, and she was like, ‘Let’s just go full-on with the product side.’ We started testing organic products. It’s really difficult with organic hair care products because there’s a lot of really nice hair care, but there’s not a lot of great styling products. Definitely not to the level of using them on shoots. By accident, we found this hair-care brand called Less is More, which is developed by a genius biochemist from Austria and her then-husband who was a hairdresser. It is a great combination!”

“Ninety percent of all the products that I have in my kit are Less is More. Before that I would pick and choose from maybe like, 10 or 15 brands to get the best of everything. Now we’ve been working on our own product line, which is also going to be clean. For me that is the real focus right now. I love everything that’s luxurious. So I’m really trying to make something that is not like your hippie, health-food shop product.”

“We’re working with L’Oréal hair colors, but we have chosen to go completely ammonia-free. That means that we’re creating an environment where it doesn’t smell and it’s not harmful [to] breathe. We’re receiving better results, because when we do highlights, the hair doesn’t get as damaged. Your hair will look and feel better for longer.”

“There [are] so many crusaders when it comes to organic and clean and stuff like that, but I really believe that instead of trying to say ‘L’Oréal and P&G—they’re the bad guys and we’re the good guys because we do organic.’ The goal should be to have [the big guys] make organic, because at the end of the day, that would make it available in every supermarket to every person on the planet who washes or puts wax or styling gel in their hair. If that can become organic, then we have won the battle. For me, I really feel like it’s about trying to work together.”

“I think people are getting better at reading labels. The EU has said from the first [day] of 2018, you’re not allowed to put on the bottle what is not in there. So you’re not allowed to say ‘Free of this’ or ‘Free of that.’ What a lot of these product companies are doing is saying, ‘OK great, we will take out the parabens and put something [else] in there that does the same thing. It might be 10 times worse than parabens, but then we can write on the bottle “paraben-free.”’ I think that’s a really good step.”

“We also have products that are not organic. We work with Oribe, and it’s really just to have a few things in there that you can’t do organically. You can’t do a dry shampoo; you can’t do a hair spray, and once in a while that’s what you need. If you want to put your hair up to go dancing every three months, you need to fix it with hair spray that really holds. I’m fine with that. I don’t think you need to be that much of a crusader. It feels good to be bad once in a while [laughs].”

“The story behind the leaf blower is we use it for wind [for photos]! [laughs]”

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