It’s impossible not to fall in love with Leo Bancroft and his work. Britain’s favourite big league hairstylist, he’s most familiar to us from ITV’s This Morning where he transforms people’s hair – and often in the process their lives. We were very privileged to get an interview with Leo to reveal his secrets to exquisite bridal hair, two hair products he never goes without, and the moving story of how his mother helped him begin his professional journey.
1. Hi Leo, thank you so much for taking the time for this interview! We’d love to know, first of all, what attracted you to hairdressing and how you started your career?
“Hairdressing for me is the greatest job in the world because it helps people look the best version of themselves. To get a foot on the ladder I first applied to go on a six-month course with Vidal Sassoon. However, it wasn’t easy. My mother didn’t have much money, and to this day I still owe her a debt of gratitude for selling my grandmother’s jewellery and her Rover Metro to fund the course and pay for my rail ticket for the commute from Surrey to London.”
2. We know you also teach worldwide. Why are training and education so close to your heart?
“Teaching is indeed close to my heart. Learning the skill of hairdressing has changed my life, and I love watching other people follow in my footsteps and discover their talent. In particular, I take great pride in my team as I watch them grow from the minute they enter my salon until they become qualified stylists.”
3. Tell us a little bit about your salon in Surrey.
“The Leo Bancroft salon is known for precision skills, fabulous customer service and superior knowledge – not to mention the smart, elegant décor. What’s most important is that we love our customers and they love us back. We’re also known for the best hair wash massage in all the land!”
4. For you personally, what have been the highlights of your work on ITV’s This Morning?
“The high point of working on This Morning has been transforming the image of people I would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. For example, I will never forget Sarah from Hull because she had never had a proper haircut or even thought about having one, because she always put everyone else first. To my amazement she was such a pretty lady, but hidden behind baggy clothes with no makeup and zero hair styling. We made her look a million dollars, and to this day it’s a moment I’ll never forget.
“ITV also made me realise that doing A-list hair is one thing but giving the gift of a positive reflection to someone who wouldn’t necessarily afford hair styling is another. Often, when our ITV guests see the results they get very emotional or even cry, and they really appreciate what we do. Before ITV I was mainly doing hair for celebrities and Red Carpet events, and while that is fabulous you don’t get the overwhelming reaction that we get on ITV. It really has changed me as a man.”
5. Now, let’s talk about bridal hair. What are this season’s biggest trends? Which is your personal favourite?
“I can’t emphasise this enough, but the best trend for brides is to keep it simple, elegant and effortless. My personal favourite bridal hair is ‘nothing’… but at the same time it’s stunning! In other words, it looks professionally ‘not styled’.”
6. What about bridal hair accessories?
“This is a personal thing. I love an accessory, be it a tiara, flower or head-piece. But again, it has to be effortless and nothing too heavy. For example, something bling but simple which is what my Tesco range is all about. In my opinion veils are a no-go because they’re old fashioned and hide all my hard work. I’m also all about picking a personal favourite item such as a brooch – something you cannot buy in a store – and making that work in the hair style. It can look amazing.”
7. If you had to give three pieces of advice to brides regarding hairstyling for their wedding day?
“Firstly, plan in advance. We have a bridal journey, which means I want to get the hair in optimum condition 16 weeks before the wedding. This includes a home care regime, salon regime, regular trims, blow dries and of course, highlights. Secondly, you must have an idea of the dress before we style your hair as the hair is the extension of the dress. This is massively important before your trials and I will not do your hair until you know the dress. Finally, be yourself. If you always wear your hair down, wear it down, and so on. The idea on your wedding day is to look the best version of yourself.”
8. Are there any great products you’d recommend?
“There are two products I would never style hair without. Number one is Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray for the roots. It is fantastic for making the wedding hair last all day, which is really important. Number two is Kerastase Forme Fatale blow drying spray, which has memory.”
9. Is there a last piece of advice you’d like to give our bridal readers?
“Yes. Be in the moment and enjoy!”