Chatting with Lifetime's 'American Beauty Star' guest mentor celebrity hairstylist Chris Appleton

There are only five episodes left of Lifetime’s American Beauty Star.  This show features 12 contestants who are the best and most innovative makeup, hair and beauty experts in the country compete for great prizes including $50,000.  On Oct. 26 and Nov. 16 Chris Appleton, hairstylist to the stars, including Kim Kardashian West will be the guest mentor the remaining contestants.

In the beginning, each contestant is paired with a teammate with an opposite skill set (like makeup artist will be paired with a hairstylist) and they have a variety of beauty challenges including creating high-end editorial looks to the most current glam creations for red carpets and runway shows. Only one will win and be named “American Beauty Star.”



In addition to the money, the winner will receive a spot on the beauty team for a Teen Vogue editorial spread and a variety of products and tools.

The host and producer of this show is Adriana Lima. Celebrity makeup artist Sir John is the contestant mentor and Vogue’s former Beauty Director Sarah Brown and world renowned photographer Russell James serve as the judges. Each week there is a special celebrity guest judge including: YouTube beauty sensation Michelle Phan; models Behati Prinsloo, Christie Brinkley and Camilla Alves; make-up bloggers and beauty influencers The Kattan Sisters Huda and Mona; singer Michelle Williams, Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth and Empire actress Ta’Rhonda Jones.

Sorry to have missed the first few episodes of American Beauty Star? don't worry.  The episodes are streaming and on demand. And you can get some great beauty tips on the website here.

Londoner turned LA transplant Chris Appleton spoke with Michelle Tompkins for of his journey towards being a celebrity stylist, who are his style icons, items every women should have in her makeup bag, what makes American Beauty Star special, what he likes to do for fun and more.

fifty shades

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Michelle Tompkins:  Now, where are you from?

Chris Appleton:  I'm from London.

MT:  And where do you live now?

CA:  In LA.

MT:  Now, how did you get interested in hair and beauty?

CA:  I've been doing it since I was 13. So I worked in a salon when I was 13 and I've always been fascinated about the transformation of hair and how you can make someone look and feel so different.

MT:  Now, tell me about your formal training. Did you go to beauty school?

CA:  I've done all sorts of training. I've got a degree in color; I've got degrees in cutting and styling. I did MBQ which is like the basic training in London and then obviously kind of progressed into all different fields. But I've done kind of most types of hair from working in a salon to working in editorial and then in fashion on the shows and then working obviously with celebrity.

MT:  Now, what are some current trends in hair and makeup?

CA:  I mean, anything goes.  The current hair and trend, I get asked this all the time and honestly I think that-- it was hard because in the '60s it was the bob and then in '40s it was the classic way. In each era, there's been a type of hair. I think honestly now, hair trends are so diverse and it's changing every day now due to social media. So I think social media is the new haircut because it changes every day. It's not like the bob then or— it changes so regularly. I think it's a personal choice now and I think due to social media it's changed the ways that things are done. So I don't think there is a hair trend right now

MT:  Who are some of your style icons?

CA:  I think you know— from the old school time, Madonna back in the day when she was doing the Blond Ambition Tour and I was always quite inspired by how she kind of reinvented her look as an artist and I liked that. Because it was kind of more than just a look, it was a feeling and I think she lived and breathed that person. So I kind of found out when I was a kid.

MT:  What are some of your favorite products that you like to use on people?

CA:  I love using the Color Wow range for—I love, in particular, their shampoo and conditioner because it has no sulfates in it. And you know what ingredients to make sure is in great conditioner and in the best integrity. So I love that because it doesn't have any silicones or any build-up in the hair which sometimes can cause hair loss. So I trust that that's going to do the job for me. I also love working with Olaplex because it's a good way of improving the condition of the hair, keeping the hair strong.

MT:  Is there something that you think every woman should keep in their makeup bag?

CA:  A pair of tweezers [laughter].  Well, you mean hair-wise?

MT:  Either hair or beauty. Is there anything that you think every woman should keep with her?

CA:  I think maybe a Mason and Pearson brush. I think that should be in every woman's bag because it's great on the hair. It's an old classic.

MT:  The boar's head old-fashioned brush. Those are really good. I use one myself.  Now, where do people get those awesome extensions like the ones Kim Kardashian West has?

CA:  I mean, I think the hair's available everywhere now. So any wholesaler, but I mean you just need to make sure-- I think generally, the rule with hair is you get what you pay for. So always invest in good quality hair because it'll make the difference in the final look.

MT:  Now, what are some of your biggest successes in your career?

CA:  I don't know. I guess I'm just proud of doing the work I do and getting to work with the people I do. And I guess I'm proud of the fact that I get to do a job that I love and work with some of the best people to showcase my work.

MT:  What lessons did you learn from any of your early-on failures?

CA:  I guess just never to give up and always—if something doesn't work, it can be fixed. I think it was quite a natural instinct for me to work outside of the box and if something doesn't work, how to make it work, basically.

MT:  Who was your first celebrity client?

CA:  Celebrity client? Rita Ora.

MT:  And after time, how did you grow your celebrity roster?

CA:  I think if you're— I think social media really helps because it definitely gives you a platform for people to see what's going on. And I guess my [inaudible] celebrity roster just grew from social media and people thinking, "Okay, that's kind of a cool look. I'll try that," and "I'll try him."

MT:  Now, please tell me one of your favorite celebrity anecdotes?

Told @makeupbymario to go Blonde today ????‍♀️?? BTS on today's shoot ?? @kimkardashian #chrisappletonhair

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CA:  I don't really want to talk about my celebrity stories.

MT:  Okay. Now, tell me about American Beauty Star?

CA:  I actually did a TV show in England, which was completely similar.  It was the equivalent over there. It's a slightly different format, but I actually won that, and I think that was a great springboard for me to sort of be noticed in the industry and in the hairdressing world. So I think American Beauty Star was just a good platform for people to sort of be noticed and shine, and hopefully they'll take the springboard from that into kind of developing what they want to do with their career.

MT:  And who do you think was watching the show?

CA:  I think young, creative people that are interested in hair and beauty.  Also someone who is interested in the world of fashion.

MT:  Now, what advice do you have for someone who wants to go into beauty or hair styling?

CA:  I think get to know what type of hairstylist you want to be. If you want to be someone that works from the salon, or if you want to be someone who works in the shows, or if you want to be successful make sure that you're portraying who you want to be because your social media is your portfolio, and it's really what people are looking at. So find out who you want to be and stick to it. Don't try and do everything.

MT:  Now, what do you like to do for fun when you're not working?

CA:  I like to go to the beach. Since I've moved to LA, the beach is quite a novelty for me, and I really love the sun, and I think it does wonders for the way you feel.  Just to sort of have a nice day at the beach, go to Malibu, and kind of maybe do some surfing or do some swimming and really kind of just chill and get away, and get out of the bubble of Hollywood.

MT:  Is there anything you want to say about your family or personal life?

CA:  Well, just that I have two kids.  That's been a great part of my journey, and I've been doing this since I was 13, so I've always been very dedicated and focused, and I'm proud that they get to sort of see what I get to do now. Thanks to social media, I think the world is more accessible.

MT:  What's something that people would be surprised to know about you?

CA:  Probably quite a lot. I guess just that I have been doing hair as long as I've been doing it. I think a lot of people think I came to Hollywood and it was like where did he come from, but you don't get anywhere without hard work, and I'm very focused and very committed, and it's been a kind of lifelong journey to do the job I do.

MT:  Is there somewhere you wish to travel where you haven't been before?

CA:  I'd go anywhere [laughter]. I've never been to India. I'd like to go to India. I've never been.

MT:  Okay. Is there any charity work that you wish to mention?

CA:  Yeah, I like to work with charity. To me, it's really important for them to support as much as possible. So I have a recent emphasis in support work with the Adopt Endeavour Agency about kind of creating awareness for families that want to adopt kids, and looking at the statistics of what goes on with a child that doesn't have parents, and how it can affect them in life. The statistics are like 25% of them are homeless, 80% of them are arrested. So trying to kind of help others I think is really important along the way.

MT:  What are your social media handles?

CA:  Chris Appleton.  They're the same.

MT:  How do you like your fans to reach out to you?

CA:  Usually, they DM me or send me an email, but DM usually.

MTNow, how do you get new clients? Do people call you or do you advertise? Are you easy to find?

CA:  I think generally with new clients, it takes the right people seeing what the work you do on others, and that being recognized.

MT:  Now, what would you like your legacy to be?

CA:  I guess just to be— I've always just kind of wanted to be known for being focused and passionate about what I do, and hopefully creating a few moments that people will want to recreate forever.

MT:  What's next for you?

CA:  Lots of space. There's a lot coming next, so look out.

American Beauty Star runs on Thursday nights on Lifetime and episodes are available for streaming online and learn more about Chris Appleton here.


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Michelle Tompkins

Michelle Tompkins is an award-winning media, PR and crisis communications professional with more than ten years experience with coverage in virtually every traditional and new media outlet. She is currently a communications and media strategist and writer, as well as the author of College Prowler: Guidebook for Columbia University. She served as the Media Relations Manager for the Girl Scouts of the USA where she managed all media and talking points, created social media strategy, trained executives and donors and served as the organization’s primary spokesperson, participating in daily interviews with local, regional, and national media outlets. She managed the media for the Let Me Know internet safety and Cyberbullying prevention campaign with Microsoft, as well as Girl Scouts’ centennial Year of the Girl To Get Her There celebration in 2012, which yielded more than 800 million earned media impressions. In addition to her extensive media experience, Michelle worked as a talent agent in Los Angeles, California, as well contracting as a digital content developer and her writing has appeared in newspapers and online. She is passionate about television, theater, classic movies, all things food and in-home entertaining. While she has lived and worked in NYC for more than a decade, she is from suburban Sacramento and gets back there often to watch the San Francisco Giants on TV with her family.

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