Emmanuel Ray with hair stylist and make up artist Stephen Mcilmoyle at London Hair Academy

Make up & Hair for Men! Courtesy of The Headmaster at London Hair Academy.

Photos by Tito Nicolau at Frog in Red Tie.

Is there anything better than being pampered, made up & styled? Despite being in the entertainment industry since the age of 6, I never get tired of these wonderful rituals. And what better way to prepare for a function or public appearance, than to entrust your head to the crème de la crème of the Hair & Beauty industry; The London Hair Academy?! 

Stephen Mcilmoyle is a fantastic hairdresser and make up artist. I was on my way to host my birthday gathering at The Hoxton Pony, and the London Hair Academy is just next door. We decided to go for the androgenous pretty-boy look, a get-up I had not sported for a long time. Can I still pull it off? Well, I just asked Stephen to make me look as young and cute as possible. He sure did a good job!

Susan pops-in to say Hello!
Susan pops-in to say Hello!

While Stephen was preparing his tools, chatting away in his charming Irish accent (did you know that the Irish accent was voted the sexiest accent in the world, in a survey which polled 5,000 women from around the world?), I bumped into Susan, who also trains students at the London Hair Academy. She has done my hair before when she managed a salon in Barons Court. Small world! The academy is a top spot for students who hope to make a career in hair & make up. Click Here to visit their website. They are also offering FREE hair cuts and beard trimming/grooming for Men. Quote “Emmanuel Ray” when you book.

Anyway, so I told Stephen that I wanted lots of volume and a cross between a pixie cut and a page boy style. I’ve always had thick lustrous hair, but 28 years of styling products, heating, chemicals etc during dance performances, fashion shoots, presenting work etc – all tend to take their toll on one’s hair follicles. My hair has thinned a bit, and being under a lot of stress recently  due to personal-life drama can only make it worse. 

Anyway, so Stephen washed and blow dried my hair first, then worked on my face and went back to styling the hair with the use of his tools. He washed my hair with volume building shampoo. No conditioner. This helps style the hair with more volume. He also used some spray to protect the hair from heat, and some volumising styling powder. A little bit flat ironing, and a bit of back combing later, my hair was set with hair spray. Stephen did a wonderful job with the face too, going for medium coverage rather than a more caked-up full coverage look. We decided to go for some eye liner to top off the androgenous look, and with a steady hand, he got the lines and subtle flick.. spot on! The look went well with the black sherwani I wore for the occasion, with blue accents.      

Emmanuel Ray with hair stylist and make up artist Stephen Mcilmoyle at London Hair Academy
Emmanuel Ray with hair stylist and make up artist
Stephen Mcilmoyle at London Hair Academy

 Stephen Mcilmoyle has been in the hair and makeup industry for 25 years.  Having done his hair training with the prestigious Charlie Miller and Cheynes salons in Edinburgh, and make up education at The London College Of Fashion, Stephen moved to London in 2000. During this time he has worked in fashion, film, TV, advertising and music.  Celebrities and public figures he has worked with include Simon Le Bon (and the rest of Duran Duran), Peter Andre, Scott Mills, Carl Barat, Ben Shephard and Steve Jones.  

In the last 4 years Stephen has been focusing primarily on training and educating up and coming talent at London Hair Academy and The London Makeup School.  He teaches bespoke classes to adults who work in the hair and makeup industry.  Mainly he gets hair stylists and makeup artists wanting to advance their skills.  Stephen also coaches complete beginners in the industry, giving them the skills and confidence to progress to more advanced levels.  The schools where he teaches are now becoming the leading training providers in the UK due to the unique courses they provide and the talent involved in delivering them.

As usual, I had a lot of questions for Stephen. That’s the Presenter in me. I can’t not ask people questions, and once they get started, I want to know everything! I thought I’d share some of what he said, with you. 

1) A lot of men are very particular about their hair and I see a lot of guys at the gym who sped ages styling their hair in front the mirror. I don’t think it is a good idea to use styling products on a daily basis, but what do you think? Is too much too bad, or is it alright, as several older and mature men used to use Brylcreem a lot, in the olden days and they still seem to have good hair.

Styling products are absolutely fine to use on a daily basis but choosing the correct product is very important.  I advise clients to stay away from gel as this product hardens, congests the scalp resulting in the scalp not breathing.  I recommend using a light styling paste or cream on normal hair and a wax based product on dry hair.

2) Hair trends seem to change all the time, and just like fashion trends, there seems to be a cycle of styles being in and out. What’s your opinion on all this? What are the latest hair trends in men’s style?

Very short back and sides (skin fade) with varying lengths on top.  Think military looks or a more daring high quiff either groomed smooth or with curl and texture.  Side partings exaggerate this look.  Longer hair is becoming more fashionable for men again but the difference now is that it is styled into a top knot keeping a very structured masculine look.  This looks good being shaved and disconnected around the back and sides.

3) Any DOs and DON’Ts? Advice, hints and tips you would like to give men regarding haircare, styling and so on?

You can have a perfect haircut but without proper hair maintenance the hair will never look its best.  Using the correct products, getting your hair cut regularly and taking care of the scalp is very important.  Choose the correct shampoo for your hair type (dry, oily, fine, curly etc) and the most important product a man can use is conditioner.  A healthy scalp means healthy hair!

4) What do you think are the best products a man can use to achieve thick hair? Thickness in hair is what a lot of men covet and there seem to be loads of products that promise thickness, length, re growth etc.

Shampoos, conditioners and hair restoration systems that contain protein helps the appearance of fine hair as it strengthens the hair strands and makes the hair thicker.  Vitamin A and vitamin B2 taken orally can help thicken hair.  Most importantly a healthy diet including superfoods such as nuts, green veg and berries not forgetting plenty of water will keep hair super healthy giving it the appearance of being thicker.

5) You are also a make up artist, and make up for men is quite the niche area. More and more men are starting to use fake tan, tinted moisturiser and so on, while others are a bit more daring, experimenting with eye liner, high definition brows and so on. Please give us some tips for men who wear make up. DOs and DON’Ts, advice etc.

I lived through the 80’s New Romantic era when men NOT wearing makeup was considered odd!  Lots of men still wear makeup on a daily basis (un-noticed) to cover flaws and enhance their features.  You don’t have to be a movie/pop star to look and feel your best!  Now less is always more with men, so carefully choosing what products they need is paramount and remembering not to over-do it. 

Matte products are best, as shimmery/glittery makeup will just look girly.  A light tinted moisturiser followed by a dusting of translucent powder to keep the shine down may be enough to create a flawless healthy look.  Lightly pencilling eyebrows to give definition and a coat of natural mascara will make lashes look fuller and make eyes more look more awake. 

For a man with a fuller face and weak jaw line a matte bronzer can be used on sides of face and under the jaw line to sculpt the face making it look more chiselled.  Lips must be kept healthy and moisturised using a lip balm.  Having said that ‘less is more’ with men’s makeup I do love seeing young men experimenting with more avant garde looks, expressing their art and fashion alter egos!  The late Leigh Bowery was an amazing example of this.

Click Here to learn more about courses and services at London Hair Academy and London Make up School. For all you male readers out there.. quote “Emmanuel Ray” when you contact the London Hair Academy for a FREE haircut and/or beard trim/groom. Click Here to register. 


Nominee, Positive Role Model 2013 (National Diversity Awards, UK). Nominee, London Personality of the Year 2012 (London Lifestyle Awards). Winner, Fashion Icon of the Year 2011 (Fashions Finest Awards, UK).

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