Tastemakers and Trendsetters: Michael Dueñas


In Tastemakers and Trendsetters, we talk to inspirational leaders in the world of spa, beauty and wellness. This week we chat with celebrity and editorial stylist Michael Dueñas.

How long have you been working as a stylist and what inspired you to get into the industry?  

I have been a stylist for 18 years. I can't believe it has already been that long! I wanted to become a hairdresser after watching friends of mine be able to make their own schedules and surf whenever they wanted to. I would surf with them until the afternoon, then they would go into work for a few hours, then surf again. That was my dream—so I followed suit!

Is there a signature technique you are known for?

I created a heart bun that was posted all over Instagram and different Pinterest boards. When I’m teaching classes, I get asked about it all the time! I would have to say that’s definitely something I’m known for. But when I’m being booked by clients, it’s typically for the way I create textured waves for updos and for tousled looks. I typically try to create non-traditional waves in the hair with fun techniques. I wouldn’t say there is one particular project I am most proud of. To be honest, I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of any project. It means someone or a group of people felt I was talented enough to be part of their work and their vision. It is beyond flattering.

Do you have any memorable moments working with celebrities?

I got to travel with Rob Lowe and his sons for an adventure show he was doing. We went to some really fun places, haunted mansions, supposed places that aliens visit, and travel on a massive research vessel looking for undiscovered caves and aliens. It was such a unique and fun experience—and I got paid for it. I would have gone for free!

What are some of your favorite products? 

I’m obsessed with Leonor Greyl Voluforme. It’s super soft with incredible volume results. Aloxxi Volumizing Whip is an extremely hydrating mousse that doesn’t flake or look greasy. R+Co Neon Lights is an incredibly lightweight shine spray that doesn’t weigh hair down. Evo Box O’ Bollox Texture Paste gives a matte finish with a ton of hold, that you can reset and play with all day. Lastly, Aquis hair towels are super soft, and don’t pull on the fibers of your hair at all! They absorb more water at a faster rate than a traditional towel, saving time when you need to blow-dry!

Who inspires you? 

I have to say it isn’t one person, but my surroundings. I look at hair daily and create visions out of what people have done to their hair. Or I'll see a unique shape in a section of their hair and want to recreate it in some form or fashion. I take inspiration from all my peers and feel that my work can be a group effort.

Secret to success?  

I truly believe there is no one secret to success, but just extreme hard work and perseverance. You have to have thick skin to make it in the beauty industry and cannot let things bring you down.

Beauty secrets?

My biggest tip has to do with blow-drying. Don’t start on sopping wet hair. Rough dry or towel dry your hair until it is about 80-90% dry, then blow dry. Your hair will get dramatically healthier. This works on all textures, that you intend to blow-dry straight. My other favorite: apply dry shampoo to wet hair and blow dry or air dry. You will get fuller hair with more volume and zero grit!

Wellness tip?

 Keeping your body healthy helps keep your mind healthy. Try to exercise at least once a week—it does wonders for your soul, mind, and body. You will notice healthier skin, nails, and hair. It helps your blood circulate more and gives a presence of general well-being.

Best advice? 

Work hard, and don’t let others influence your dreams. If you have a goal, a desire, a dream—strive for it. Chances are you will achieve more than you ever thought you could.

[Image courtesy of Michael Dueñas]

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Lizzy Sherman is an award-winning digital content writer/editor. She has been a featured guest speaker at Cal State University Northridge, Digital LA and The National Association of Audience Marketing Professionals. When she's not writing, Lizzy enjoys yoga and playing guitar. Follow her on Instagram: @zillizy