Celebrity Hairstylist Sean James on Working With Dylan and Cole Sprouse
Whether he’s traveling with Jamie Lee Curtis for a movie press tour, on the set of “Talking Dead” with Chris Hardwick, styling Weird Al Yankovic’s hair for an award-winning music video, or changing up the color of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s tresses—celebrity hairstylist Sean James has earned a reputation as one of the most in-demand hairstylists in Hollywood.
Recently we caught up with James, who works out of Matthew Preece Salon in Santa Monica, California—and learned more about his long-term relationship as the stylist to actors Dylan and Cole Sprouse. From favorite memories with the twins to changing their looks for various television roles, James answers all of the fans’ pressing questions about his celeb clients:
How long have you been working with the Sprouse brothers?
I've been working with Dylan and Cole since “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody“ days. Since the beginning, I used to go on set to cut and highlight their hair. We also worked together through the "The Suite Life on Deck" days, and for a few years I was doing their hair and makeup for Danimals Crunchers TV commercials. At the same time, I was working with one of my other clients, Jamie Lee Curtis, doing the groundbreaking Activia commercials with one of the most memorable theme songs ever!
How did you become their stylist?
I met them on the Universal back lot while doing a charity event for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I donated my time and services to doing the hair and makeup for a bunch of the Disney kids’ appearances at the event. Dylan and Cole had donated their time as well—they’ve always been so generous with their celebrity status. We hit it off and they asked me to work with them again.
Are their styles similar or different? How would you describe Cole’s and Dylan’s individual styles?
Dylan and Cole have so many unique styles—they were already rocking the heavy bangs, side-swept look before Justin Bieber. Since they were kids, they have always known exactly what they like and what they don’t like. When they were on the show, Disney wanted them as similar as possible—but their hair actually parts on opposite sides like most twins, and Cole’s hair is more wavy. I would lighten their hair for their characters, and they were always so cool about it. Dylan and Cole both have the exact same hairline as their dad—the good news is that he still has all his hair. In fact, I thin it out because it’s so thick!
Over the years, how have their styles evolved?
When the guys left California to go to college in New York, I was so excited for them—but I was really interested as to how the hair situation was going to go. The first year they both grew their hair out long and didn’t cut it. Before they left, I had suggested to them the idea of going with a young Leonardo DiCaprio look. If I remember correctly, Dylan’s hair was shorter, more like the Leo cut, and Cole grew his hair past his shoulders—then they swapped and Dylan grew his hair out. They are really fun with change. Now their styles are very influenced by the characters that they play. Dylan and Cole have the best hair and it grows so fast.
What looks are Dylan and Cole currently rocking?
At the moment, Dylan has chopped all his hair off and wears it as a buzz cut—his dad cut it for him. I cut and colored Dylan’s hair for his last movie. Cole came in a few days ago and we shot a little video of his new haircut—you can see it on my Instagram (@seanjameshair). So many of Cole’s fans have asked me how to get his look, so I wanted to share a brief breakdown of my technique.
What products do you use on them?
Their hair is colored for many different roles, so I like to make sure it’s kept in healthy condition. I always treat the hair with NEOBOND, I shampoo with Mon Shampoing, and I style with Bumble and bumble Sumotech. My own product is coming soon from Oceana Labs Inc. I recently sent Dylan and Cole their own blowdryers from FHI Heat—the Platform 2000. Use code SEAN20 for a discount!
How do you style Cole's hair for “Riverdale?”
For “Riverdale” I've cut his hair a few times using my Vidal Sassoon technique. I take vertical sections to cut it, bringing the sides and back to a finger-length, cutting vertical sections, and disconnecting the front. Then I over-direct the hair back to texturize some layers for Jughead’s color (L’Oreal Majirel No. 3 Dark Brown + 20 Vol).
What do you love about having Dylan and Cole as clients?
I love their consistency as friends. At this point we have become family. I see their dad more often these days, but when they’re in town and not on set, they always make the effort to come see me for a haircut. For many years, I used to drive out to their place to cut and color them at home for their shows and movies if their schedule was tight.
What’s your favorite memory with Dylan? With Cole?
Every memory with them is awesome. I remember visiting them in NYC when they were at school, and we went out to dinner with musician Teddy Thompson and my friend Kit Scarbo from “Project Runway.” One time Cole came over to my house for his Jughead hair color, then after we had a barbecue and swam in the pool, which was fun.
Dylan and Cole coming by Matthew Preece Salon are some of the moments I enjoy most—the one-on-one time when they are in the chair and we catch up on the real stuff, sharing our journeys through life and recent adventures we’ve been on. We all love to travel and explore the world.
I’m looking forward to continuing to watch them grow as people. Seeing them mature and succeed in life is awesome. We're already talking about some future projects I’m excited about, so stay tuned!
[Photos courtesy of Sean James]
Kamala Kirk is a University of Southern California graduate and has been an editor/writer for more than a decade. She has written for E! Online, Total Beauty, TravelAge West, Malibu Times Magazine, and many more. She resides in Los Angeles and is a proud pug mom. Follow her on Instagram: @kamalakirk