Ashanti Lation is the woman behind the healthy hair-slayage of all our favorite celebrities. From Winnie Harlow, to Latto and Normani, Lation is responsible for creating all of the flawless do’s that stand out everywhere. From high fashion editorials to dazzling award shows and performances, to even the Met Gala red carpet!
Lation has always been an avid lover of beauty and haircare. She started her journey as a hairstylist in the fourth grade and officially started taking clients at 15 years old. Today, the New Orleans native is the proud owner of VIP Lux Salon & Hair Boutique. She has her own line of hair care products, VIP Luxury Hair Care, which transforms the heads of all those who use it.
Read as Lation shares what inspired her to launch her own salon and hair care line. Also, what to look for when seeking a personal beautician and tips for natural hair care. She also talks exclusive details behind Normani’s Met Gala look!
Jadriena Solomon: A really important experience that forever shaped your relationship with hair care is when one of your cosmetology teachers demonstrated a super perm on you, and you suffered a scalp infection because you had an allergic reaction. This led to you having to get steroid injections in your scalp to grow your hair back. Can you tell us more about the ever-lasting impact that this experience had on you?
Ashanti Lation: It definitely made me even more selective with who I let touch my hair. Mentally, I dealt with depression for a while after the experience and physically, the incident left my hair follicles damaged for years. Looking back at it now, I can say that it was something that had to happen for me to become who I am today. Kind of like my superhero origin story. That experience is where I drew my strength from and ultimately developed my hair-growing superpower. But that’s a more recent level of understanding. I was very angry about it for years. Luckily, I never ran into her during that period of healing. I would’ve been bad.
JS: How have you been able to use that traumatic experience to your advantage in your career as a hair guru and celebrity stylist?
AL: The trauma of that experience taught me to recognize trauma in other people, especially my clients. I learned to listen to their concerns about their hair and its healthiness, instead of just always assuming I know what’s best because “I’m the professional.”
It also prompted me to start researching different techniques and ingredients that promote hair growth, because my own was stunted for so long and I was desperate for solutions. My personal brand and business benefited because I was able to use my findings to grow my clients’ hair, which earned me my reputation as a healthy hair specialist with “growing hands.”
JS: What are some green flags that women should look for when they’re seeking a beautician that they would like to use on a regular basis? What are some ways that they can tell if they’ve found the right person for them?
AL: Vibe is very important. This is someone that you will be spending 1-4 hours with out of your day on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, so you’ll want to be comfortable in their presence. You can get a good sense of someone’s personality from their personal social media profiles. Also, do your research. Google the stylist for reviews. Some green flags would be things like punctuality, client retention, booking and payment methods, and most important – pictures and video.
JS: You own your own hair salon, VIP Lux Salon & Hair Boutique. As well as a hair care company called VIP Luxury Hair Care, which features a range of products to promote healthy hair and scalp. What inspired you to initially launch your salon and hair care company?
AL: Well, the salon was a natural progression. I have always been a leader in my industry. I was the salon manager at the first salon I worked for at the age of 19 because I always tried to carry myself with a certain level of maturity and professionalism.
The start of my hair care brand was a culmination of my experience as a stylist and my quest for healthy hair solutions for myself and my clients. It made sense to pour my knowledge and passion into formulas that I knew could help so many people.
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JS: It was through one of your products, the Greaux Drops, that you actually caught the attention of singer Normani. Was she your first celebrity client? And if so, how was that transition into the world of celebrity hair-styling?
AL: Normani is my first steady celebrity client, but before we met I had worked with a few celebrities, such as Faith Evans, Tamica Lee and Brittany Howard. I had also worked with numerous movie and television productions, like Southern Charm, Queen Sugar and a few others. But every opportunity prepared me for the next and ultimately for this moment that I’m experiencing right now.
JS: Normani definitely made a statement when she graced the red carpet of this year’s Met Gala. What was the inspiration behind her hair? And can you tell us more about the style, the color, the prep – everything that went into bringing that look to life?
AL: Yes! It was definitely a moment. Of course, this year’s Met Gala’s theme called for “Gilded Glamour,” inspired by New York’s Gilded Age, so we wanted the hair to be a modern version of the hair from that era. We decided to go with a rich wine hair color to create slight contrast with the black velvet, complementing the dress’s color without drawing attention away from it. We also knew early on that we wanted to go with a grand hat to seal the deal, so once that was selected, it was time to craft the perfect hairstyle to complete the look.
For the curly updo, I first used our Silk Shot Spray & Serum to straighten Normani’s natural hair. After curling and creating that dynamic swoop in the front, I used our Elite Edge Control to lay down her edges and the back. From there it was just finding creative ways to secure the hat to ensure we didn’t have any red carpet mishaps. I’ll just say there were a lot of hair and bobby pins involved.
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JS: This was your first time styling a client for the Met Gala. As a New Orleans native, how did it feel being in New York and taking on this entire experience?
AL: I’ve had so many big moments in my career, but this was definitely one of the biggest. It was a little overwhelming to be applying my craft at one of the biggest social events in the world, but I got it together and did my thing. I was slightly taken aback by how many people in my hometown were paying attention to the moment and the amount of congratulations I’ve been getting since the event.
JS: You’ve also worked with another thriving artist, Latto, who has recently been vocal about embracing her natural hair more and learning how to keep it healthy. What tips do you share with her when it comes to taking care of her natural hair, that you’d like to share with our readers?
AL: Latto is so sweet and down to earth. I’ve really enjoyed working with her. Without revealing too much about her hair, I will just say I recommended a few ways to keep her natural hair frizz-free while wearing it out. I was glad to hear about her embracing her natural hair more and I look forward to being able to help her achieve her hair goals in any way I can.
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JS: You recently launched your Healthy Hair Journal, an e-book filled with prompts and advice, as a tool for people to track their growth, hold themselves accountable and reconsider certain hair habits. Between that, your fabulous line of hair products and your salon, you’ve already accomplished so much. What’s next on your list?
AL: Just taking over the hair industry, one project at a time. But seriously, I’m working on a few things with my team that will definitely raise the bar, both for my personal career and the businesses and brands I’ve founded. Nothing I’m ready to give full details about, but be on the lookout for a few new products being added to the VIP Luxury Hair Care line as well as more digital products around hair health and education, and an entirely new brand being added to the VIP Luxury Brands lineup.
JS: In an interview with Vogue, you shared your mantra which is “hair changes peoples’ lives.” And it has certainly changed yours – from celebrity clients, traveling the world, attending amazing performances and events and the success of your business and products. What do you enjoy the most about being a celebrity hair stylist?
AL: It’s funny, because for a long time I kind of shied away from the celebrity or Hollywood side of the industry. But after more than a decade behind the chair I started being open to different opportunities and experiences.
Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, LOVE my clients, my staff and my salon. But there’s just certain levels of success and achievements that I feel like being a celebrity hair stylist will work in my favor for. So finally, with an open mind and heart, I am fully embracing the spotlight, stepping out on faith, and ready to boss the hell up!