Mark Townsend hard at work touching up Lea Michele’s locks. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris, WireImage
Ever wonder who coifs the tresses of some of the hottest celebs like Jessica Biel, the Olsens, Brooklyn’s finest Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lea Michele and many others? Well, the answer ladies is Mark Townsend. Spotted behind the scenes of countless red carpets and magazine covers, Townsend has been making women look amazing for years. Now, in his “spare time” he’s launched his own blog and has gathered his industry friends to share more of the editorial spreads that he loves creating so much. Read on for his insights into the business and why he loves his job so much.
StyleCaster: Welcome to the blog world! We love MARKTbeauty. What inspired you to launch the site?
Mark Townsend: Thank you! I am a hairstylist and I LOVE doing hair, so I wanted to create a space where hairstylists, makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, manicurists and photographers could come together and collaborate and create beautiful images. People used to tell me all the time that I should write a book about the adventures that I experience in my job and a blog is the modern version of that. I think of marktbeauty.com as a creative playground!
Photo: Don Flood
You cover amazing talent on your site, from Lea Michele to Jessica Biel. How do you get your hands on so many great people?
I am so incredibly blessed to work with some amazingly talented and beautiful people in my day job as a hairstylist so I asked some of them if they would want to spend a few hours playing dress up with me. I have to be honest here and say that I was blown away when Jessica agreed to be on the first cover of marktbeauty.com. It takes a brave lady to do that and I loved that she wanted to be involved with the looks we did on her the short blond Edie Sedgwick wig was her idea! Lea is a DREAM to work with, we did three separate shoots with her in one day and she gave it her all and brought such great energy to our day. She is so inspiring in so many ways.
Now for your original job styling hair. Have you always wanted to be in the business?
As a kid I used to steal my sisters Barbie dolls and spend hours doing their hair and I would go with my mom to the grocery store just so I could look through all the fashion magazines and I would imagine what it would be like to be on some of those exotic shoots creating these fantasy looks. It was during my first year of college that I realized I needed to have a career that had a creative outlet so I dropped out and enrolled in the cosmetology program at the local vocational school in my hometown. After getting my hairstyling license I decided to follow my dreams of working in the fashion industry and working on the same kind of shoots I would look at when I was younger so I moved to New York City to make that happen.
Youve been styling the Olsen twins hair since they were teens, and they are known for their amazing texture. Whats the best way to hold texture in your hair throughout the day?
Mary-Kate and Ashley are my muses; they are so inspiring in so many ways. I have a few tricks I like to use with their hair, but usually I like to layer products in their hair starting with spraying dry shampoo all over then wrapping random pieces of hair around a curling iron and then spraying a salt water spray all over (John Masters Organics is my favorite!). To finish, I take a very small amount of Dove Frizz Taming Cream in my hands and rake it through the hair.
Is there an amazing hair product/tool youve been hiding in your coffers? Do tell.
I am OBSESSED with Rsession Tools Nulu Waver! It has two barrels that you wrap the hair into, like a figure eight so it creates the most amazing uneven waves and gives the hair great texture.
So hair accessories have been big lately. Are there any particular favorites you like to use while styling?
Anyone who knows me well knows that I travel with tons of hair accessories! I love to use them to add some glamour or drama to the simplest of hair styles. My favorites are by Jennifer Behr and Basha Gold because they have such gorgeous pieces! I love to use jewelry in the hair too; I wrapped several strands of real diamonds from Kwiat in January Jones hair for the Emmys and I get so much inspiration from Chanel accessories but some of my favorite pieces came from making trips to the craft store like how I did for marktbeauty.coms shoot with Deborah Ann Woll.
Photo: Don Flood
What inspired Lea Micheles hairstyle for the August cover shoot on MARKTbeauty?
We did three different covers with Lea for August so I wanted to show just how gorgeous she is and how different she can look with hair and makeup changes. For the first shoot I pulled her hair into a high top-knot to give the shoot a more high fashion feeling, which Lea does so well. I looked at tons of images from ’90s fashion magazines when things were a little edgier.
Is all of the content (the ideas behind it and writing) created by you, or do you call in some help?
The only reason marktbeauty.com exists online and not just a dream in my brain is because of so much help and lots of hard work from friends. My agent Lisa Walker is such a visionary and she really encouraged me to follow my dream and make this site a reality. I write the blog on my own but all the written content in the features is by Beauty Girl who is such an amazing writer/editor/collaborator/friend and such a well of inspiring ideas. Fashion Director Estee Stanley is a stylist I have worked with for years and I love her aesthetic so she oversees all the fashion choices for our shoots and I cant go a day without talking with her and running ideas by her for upcoming stories. Don Flood was the first photographer to come on board and he has created so many beautiful and inspiring images. My friend Frank Rust is the designer of the site and art director for all images on the site and I think he is an absolute genius, just wait til you see what we have coming up!
With your site getting such a great response, do you think youll ever make the leap to being a beauty editor?
I could never ever stop doing hair, I love it too much!
Mark Townsend has been helping to get celebrities ready for their red carpet appearances and photo shoots for years now, after starting his career assisting the likes of Oribe and Sally Hershberger. He then moved on to film sets and currently works with many of Hollywood’s leading ladies including Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Lea Michele, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Jessica Biel and many others. Townsend decided to branch out into the online world in June 2010 launching MarkTbeauty.com, and we now get to see his creations not just at award shows, but also in online editorial spreads.