Our ongoing Q&A series features Leonor Greyl superfans who share our passion for luxurious, healthy hair. We talk about their career paths, celebrity encounters, style secrets, and more.
Coco Chanel was surely right when she said, “A new haircut can change a woman’s life,” but it turns out it can change a man’s life, too. We talked with Corbin, of Corbin Salon in Baltimore, about his journey to becoming a stylist (yes, it started with a haircut—or maybe a hair save), the difference between styling in the UK and America, and why you should never be in such a rush that you skip the rituals that create compliment-worthy hair.
Leonor Greyl: When did you know you wanted to be a stylist?
Corbin: It’s a long story. The very condensed version is that I knew when I had a horrific hair experience and had to get it fixed. I lived in the country and there weren’t exactly any qualified individuals to deal with it so I had to go into Philadelphia. They were so good and I thought, “This is great! It was a nice experience, they were professionals. I could do this!” And so I did. And then I found out that I was really good at it.
LG: Where did you study and train?
C: I trained at Vidal Sassoon in London. We all have our hair journeys. For me, in trying to get THE cut, I went to many salons. I was getting many compliments going in, but then leaving with no compliments. I finally went to a salon in Philadelphia. I brought the picture and asked, “How about this?” And I got the picture! It was a first. I went back and they did it again. And again. So I realized I was onto something, and I asked where they learned to do what they did. They said Vidal Sassoon.
One day, I was taking the bus into the city, and there were these three girls with little blue boxes. They were going to beauty school with the little blue boxes from the school. I thought, “I’m not going to do that. I’m going to Vidal Sassoon.” So that’s how that came to pass.
LG: How did your time in London shape you as a stylist?
C: I went to the academy and then worked for them for about three years. It was a great experience. It’s quite different there than here. In the States, clients want you to be their friend—you have to dance and do your craft. In London you were a professional, so you were not expected to make all that personal conversation. There was interaction of course, but it was a more professional environment.
At that time they were doing hair ‘cuts,’ creating many different looks. Today people are doing more hair styling. It’s a feeling as opposed to a sculpture.
LG: What was your path to running your own salon?
C: By the age of 30 I was expected to own my own business. My father owned his own business; it was given. So by the age of 30 I owned my own salon. When you’re younger you just say, “Ok, let’s do this! Let’s go for it!” and you just go for it. You don’t think about the hurdles or the possibility of things not working out.
LG: Do you have a styling philosophy?
C: I believe in less is more. I like simplicity, great lines, a good shape. This is in keeping with hair color and how it has changed and evolved. Colors are more natural-looking as opposed to processed. It’s about shading values. It also requires less maintenance and is easier on the hair.
LG: Did COVID change what clients want for their hair?
C: COVID changed what clients are looking for as far as the health of their hair. They are a lot more concerned with hair loss or potential hair loss since COVID. So we are suggesting the Complexe Energisant for thinning hair more frequently than we did before COVID. And clients are returning to the salon, but their visits are not as frequent, because everyone has become a bit more relaxed, from clothing to appearance. Maybe not internally relaxed, but externally, they want more easy-breezy.
LG: How did you discover Leonor Greyl products?
C: I discovered them through my spouse. He likes the best. He had been after me for a few years to try the product line. He told me I’ve just got to have it. So I tried it, and it’s a beautiful product line, so lovely. It’s easy to use. Everyone raves about how delicious the products smell.
LG: Which products are your favorites?
C: My favorite is the product that is right for that client. I don’t lean toward one versus the other, so I don’t suggest just one for everyone. Anyone over 30, especially someone who has finer hair, they’re going to notice changes in the density of their hair as they age. So I do suggest everyone with that issue use the Complexe Energisant scalp treatment. That’s a product that you use for a lifetime. Others you might use or not use depending on the season or what you are doing for your hair.
There are so many Leonor Greyl products because there are so many different hair-care needs. But they make it really simple to look at your hair issues and see what products match your particular needs. It’s a medication for the hair—the more you use them consistently the better they work. You’ll see the improvement in your hair quality. When a product does its job, the elasticity will increase, which means the curl will increase, giving more bounciness and then shine. The hair looks more youthful.
LG: What’s your favorite Leonor Greyl product story?
C: I have a client who comes in weekly. She likes to let her hair dry naturally but it was feeling dry and frizzy. When I suggested that she should try L’Huile de Leonor Greyl to improve her hair quality, she said, “No I’m fine!” Americans are always in such a rush. She didn’t understand how using just this one product could make a difference in the texture of her hair. So I offered her a treatment ‘on the house.’ She noticed an immediate change in the texture. There was more wave and curl. After a few months of using the product, she was able to wash and go naturally. She started getting compliments on how pretty her hair looked and not just after having left the salon but after having styled it herself. People were commenting on her hair texture and shine. If you can get blonde hair to shine, you know you have accomplished something!
LG: It’s been so nice to chat with you. Thank you for taking the time to share your stories with us!
C: Nice to speak with you, as well.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.