Interviews

Sally Hershberger Has Been in the Hair Business for Over 30 Years — Here’s How She Achieved Success

Jane Larkworthy

“I never really wanted to be a hairdresser,” says Sally Hershberger. “It fell upon me and then it just happened overnight.”

Well, nearly literally. Hershberger was all of 19 when she got a job at the Armando Cosio salon just off Melrose.  

“Armando was doing everyone back then. Linda Evans and all those big actresses,” recalls Hershberger. “I was the new kid, and they were like, ‘Let’s see what you can do.’ When Armando couldn’t join Olivia Newton John on tour, he suggested me. This was when she was super-hot — like Madonna. It was her ‘Let’s Get Physical’ tour.”

Hershberger traveled the world with Newton John on her private jet and was having a ball. One day she found herself with the singer at a Herb Ritts shoot.

“Herb said, ‘We should do something together,’” she says. “Before I knew it, I was doing Michelle Pfeiffer’s hair for the cover of Interview.”

More photographers followed, including Matthew Rolston, Steven Meisel, Annie Leibowitz, Helmut Newton, Wayne Maser.

“I remember walking up to a newsstand and scanning the covers. Interview, W, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, Vogue, Italian Vogue,” she says. “My work was on every cover out there! That was an amazing moment!!!”

But what she really wanted to do was photograph.

“I thought I could make more money being a photographer, but I kept getting pulled back into hair,” she laughs. “So, I thought, ‘OK, if I’m going to do this, I’m doing it in a big way. And that’s when I teamed up with John Frieda and opened the salons.”

Everyone went to Sally, and for good reason: she made iconic hairstyles, including Meg Ryan’s mop top, Jane Fonda’s chic short shag and Tom Cruise’s shaved head.

After 10 years of running the salons and creating product lines together, including Sheer Blonde and Brilliant Brunette®, she and Frieda parted ways, but it wasn’t long before Hershberger was opening her own salons, including one which she shares billing with Tim Rogers, another with top colorist Sharon Dorram, and, most recently, a boutique spot tucked away on Barney’s Uptown lower level.

In the product arena, she originally followed the Frieda model by launching a mass market line, but decided prestige was more in line with her work, so 24K came soon after. Ever the entrepreneur, she’s even dabbled in clothing, having created Shagg, a jeans line and a t-shirt collection, but cancelled before the items hit the store. (Too bad; those t-shirts were the softest things ever.)

All the big names have worked under Hershberger — Chris McMillan, Mark Townsend, Peter Butler, Lori Goddard, Tracey Cunningham, Cervando Maldonado, Negan Zand, Marie Robinson — and while they may presently command high fees, their former boss was the first to charge the then-unimaginable six hundred dollars.

“It made the cover of The New York Post!” she laughs at the memory. “But I was kind of proud to be a woman who got to that price first. And there was no pushback. Even when I went to $800, they were ok. It wasn’t until I got to $1,000, people were like, ‘Whoa…’”

And she’s still at $1,000, and still tending to the heads of Ryan, Fonda, Jimmy Fallon and John Mayer. We caught up with her between cuts to learn how she maintains a healthy lifestyle, cares for her skin and takes care of her own iconic hair and what medical aesthetics treatments she gets.

At-Home Care

“I use Oumere Skin Care. It’s the most gorgeous packaging and bottles you’ll ever see; just stunning. I can’t tell you how many people ask me come up to me and ask me about my skin, that’s why I like it. It just feels very pure, very clean and makes your skin glow. I like glowy skin. Of all the things I’ve tried, people compliment my skin the most with this line.”

In-Office Work

“I go to Dr. Anolik for Clear + Brilliant® twice a year and I love it. I also get [injectable wrinkle reducers] three times a year.  

Want to chat about injectable wrinkle reducers? Our trained aesthetic specialists are here to help! Get real aesthetic answers, right now from our trained aesthetic specialists!

[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers are temporary treatments that can help smooth certain areas of the face. They can be used no more frequently than every 3 months in the following areas for your moderate to severe wrinkles: forehead, crow’s feet and frown lines. Consult with a provider in your area to see if these treatments are right for you.]

Sunscreen

“God, the sun was so major when I was younger. The tanner, the better back then. I lived in L.A. and all the cuter girls had peeling noses, so I used a sun lamp every day after school. I’m definitely paying the price for that now. I’ve had multiple skin cancers on my face — basal cell carcinoma. I go to Dr. Geronomus for the Mohs surgery, then Dan Baker sews it up. He found something years ago when many others kept telling me it was nothing. I showed it to him and he said, ‘I don’t like the look of this’ and lo and behold… Needless to say, I have to be very careful about the sun now. I use [La-Roche Posay]® Anthelios SPF 60 sunscreen ($30) and I wear lots of hats. I collect them. Right now, my car is filled with some great ones.”

Her own iconic hair

“Multiple people cut my hair, actually. Dante at my downtown salon is great, and Stephanie at the downtown one is amazing. Honestly, I only use my products, the 24K line FINISH.”

An outdoorswoman

“My exercise routine isn’t really routine or ‘a routine.’ I don’t go to classes, but I’m into a lot of sports. I have a house on Gardiner’s Bay out in the Hamptons, and a Mastercraft waterskiing boat, so I’m waterskiing every chance I get. I just slather on the sunscreen before I do it. I also love snow skiing, fast walks, biking and weight work.”

Meditation

“I’ve been meditating since 1989. Peggy Lipton got me into it, and it’s a huge part of my life! Since then, I visit the Ashram at least once a month.”

Mindful Eating

“I’m pretty paleo. Breakfast is a protein shake of berries, almond milk and protein powder, like Metagenics® vanilla flavor ($85), but I’ll also have coffee with Stevia. Lunch is usually a nice salad with salmon or chicken. I’m pretty clean, but I also love my tequila.”

Allergan may receive commission for purchases made through links in this article.
Dr. Anolik is a paid Allergan consultant.

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