When we think about what it takes for a tennis player to get ready before hitting the court, a blowout and eyebrow shaping aren't the first things that come to our minds. But for U.S. Open hairstylist Julien Farel, his work helps athletes remain a cut above the rest.
The charming Frenchman became the official hairstylist for the U.S. Open back in 2007 after working at the sister tournament in his native country. In his pop-up salon at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York, Farel and his team work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. They shampoo, condition and style about 50 tennis players, coaches, executives and VIPs a day. Manicures and pedicures are also on the menu, because the athletes need a lot of foot treatment and hand massages post-game. Highlights and other hair coloring needs are done at his Manhattan salon, as he isn't allowed to bring chemicals inside of the stadium.
"This is an era where tennis players are fashion-forward. Even when they're on court, they want to look great," said Farel. "When I interview them, they all have the same answer: 'If we look good, we feel good and we play better.' That's very important."
Transforming the looks of tennis players can be a lot of pressure, but Farel pulls it off with finesse. One of his U.S. Open hair highlights was when Rafael Nadal (pictured above) asked him to cut his shoulder-length strands. The Spanish athlete went on to clutch the 2010 title sporting a cute crop rumored to be swept off the floor (literally!) by female fans.
"I come from a very small town in the South of France and to take care of him was an honor," Farel told us. "I was able to represent France and be known for cutting the hair of a famous tennis player. But I want to keep my feet on the ground."
The secret to Farel's winning haircut? It's all in the technique. He explained, "We're doing this between training sessions and work-outs. You must be fast, but on point. The haircut has to be perfect. It has to show great shape by itself. When they take off their headbands, you want to make sure the hair falls in place."
Caring for the health of the tennis players' hair is just as important as maintaining the beauty of it. So Farel formulated a signature hair care line that features anti-aging technology to weather the sun and humidity. If a player gets sunburned, he reaches for a special treatment called Vitamin Calm to soothe and repair the scalp. His Sculpting Gel makes taming cowlicks and flyaways a cinch.
For headband-loving tennis players with thinning hair like Nadal, Farel recommends using his hero anti-aging product called Restore. "It helps to treat, clean and condition to get more healthy, shiny and manageable hair," said Farel. "It's important for me to work with hair that's hydrated because if they're losing their hair, I'm losing my client."
Farel's hairstyling tips that work beyond the tennis court:
- If you don't have time to shower, the best thing is to put your hair up into a ponytail and tease a bit at the top to give a bit of body. You can also use a little gel to recreate a slick, wet look -- shaping the hair as you'd like.
- Braiding is also another good option as it will help to keep your hair in place while playing sports, working out or running errands.
- Dry shampoo is a life-saver but be cautious, as you don't want to leave any residue on the hair.
- Never wear your hair in a ponytail all the time because it will pull at the follicles and suddenly your roots will disappear. The hair and scalp needs to breathe.
U.S. Open style has changed a lot:
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