Hero Behind the Look - Sally Hershberger

Industry • Community

Behind the Look: How “Effortlessly Sexy” Hair Made Sally Hershberger a Star

The creator of the iconic “Sally Shag” has been transforming Hollywood’s hair for decades

A-list actors and actresses. Rock stars. Politicians. First Ladies. Elite models. Sally Hershberger’s portfolio is full of recognizable faces, and they all have one thing in common: incredible hair.

As a stylist to the stars, Hershberger wears many hats. She began her career as a personal tour stylist for Olivia Newton-John and quickly amassed a client list that included Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, and Cindy Crawford. The bi-coastal business owner has salons in Los Angeles and New York and has been a longtime stylist to rock stars like Courtney Love and childhood friend Joan Jett. In 2008, she added the creation of her first product line to her already impressive resume. And along the way, she’s created some of the most iconic hairstyles in Hollywood history.

From trust fund kid to rock star stylist

Growing up in Beverly Hills, Hershberger was no stranger to the privileged life. She was more interested in surfing and partying than building a career. “I had this really wild life and always thought I would have a trust fund to fall back on,” she told Yahoo Beauty in 2015.

At 18, Hershberger got a wake-up call from her mother: “You have got to do something; you have got to go to school.” Since she had an affinity for cutting and styling hair, she went to beauty school… “and got kicked out.”

After finally acquiring her beauty license, she worked at Armando’s, “the top, top salon at the time.” There, she met Olivia Newton-John, who brought Hershberger on tour with her. That was the catalyst for a lifetime of setting trends; from there, she went on to style actresses and models for shoots with Vanity Fair.

“I was very known for texture and volume in the ’80s. It’s almost like matronly hair but more rugged and rough. It was like a gesture,” she said of her early style.

Creating that iconic look

By the mid-90s, Hershberger was the go-to stylist for many of Hollywood’s biggest names. On the set of the 1995 film French Kiss, she was tasked with creating a disheveled look for its lead actress, Meg Ryan. Her approach: “To take the same old bob and make it look new and kind of messy.”

“Somehow the haircut I did on her became so iconic,” Hershberger said.

“Iconic” is putting it lightly. The style, which became known alternately as “the Meg” and “the Sally Shag,” quickly became one of the most-requested looks at salons around the world. As Ryan herself put it, “Apparently, there were years and years when people would come to [Hershberger] with crumpled magazine pages and expect to leave her salon with the same cut as mine.

“I go to the airports and see a million Meg ladies walking around,” Hershberger told People. “So many women.”

So what made the Sally Shag such a hit? Hershberger cites its deceptively effortless look. “This [shag haircut] was really disheveled and messy, and it looked like you didn’t do anything,” she said. At a time when actresses on TV and in movies had hair that was either matronly or overly styled, the casual, choppy cut screaming “I woke up like this” resonated with women.

Great hair starts with great product

Though Hershberger’s skills with a pair of cutting shears are undeniable, she’s quick to admit that using the right products goes a long way. “50% of great hair is the product that you use,” she said in a video promoting the 2015 launch of her haircare line, 24K. In fact, that’s why she created the brand: to give women everywhere the products they need to feel “more beautiful, more empowered, sexy.”

Billed as “the ultimate in luxury hair care,” 24K shampoo, conditioner, and styling products are “infused with 24K Pure Gold Elixir” as well as natural plants and amino acids. “The Gold story is two-fold: As a heat conductor it helps product penetrate the hair faster… and it is probably the best ingredient you can put in your hair. Like taking vitamins in the morning,” she says on her website.

Hershberger used her decades of experience to formulate and test the 24K line. “For me, it's finding out what I need and making it for everyone else, too,” she said. “It’s hairdresser-driven and we know hair.”

Among the biggest fans of the 24K line are Hershberger’s clients… including Meg Ryan. Nearly three decades after French Kiss, Hershberger still regularly styles Ryan for movies and public appearances, a testament to the stylist’s “timelessly chic” approach.

And yes, people are still talking about the Sally shag.

14 BLVD Creating the Best CXP Footer

Share Article

 /  /  /  /