Meet Tina Outen: hair stylist, unicorn, and overall ray of sunshine

Working with hair stylist Tina Outen – or even just looking through her social media – is such a fun ride and it’s one you won’t soon forget. Her unique aesthetic is not easy to explain – perhaps its a bit like dipping a disgruntled teen punk in rainbow candy floss and rolling them in glitter. Tina’s universe is always completely unexpected and new, yet makes so much sense and is so easy to fall in love with. Read below to learn where her head is at in this tumultuous time, and learn about the journey that led her to the magical space she inhibits.


THANK YOU TO @cafestudionyc



How do you define beauty?

Beauty for me is from the inside. Shining through in a smile or a glint in the eye. Beauty is emotion, and in 2021, beauty is Hope.

Tell us about how you were first introduced to the beauty world, and what inspired you to become a hairstylist? 

My father had a retouching agency so I grew up in a house full of magazines and imagery. He was always working on some form of artwork or layout. He was always working with his hands, creating . My older sister Tanya trained as a hairstylist and completed all her learning on me. I became fully obsessed at 15 and couldn’t wait to get my hands on hair! I went to the same college as she did and never looked back. 35 years later, I’m still as excited and persistent to win over the challenges that hair presents.

If you hadn’t become a hairstylist, what field do you think you would be working in – and do you have any aspirations still to move beyond the world of hair styling?

I can’t imagine ever being anything else, I have no aspirations outside of hairstyling on set. I really love all the things that come together to make a shoot possible. I love being a part of a team, I adore incorporating the visions and ideas of others, and I don’t feel the need to be the boss. I work my best under pressure and I like it when it’s difficult. I love it when it’s super considerate and multiple people’s wants are mashed in a single result. It’s organic and uncontrived, and you end up creating a type of purity together. 

 Whether it’s from a sculptural perspective that explores the space above and around the head, or from a color composition that embraces all elements of the image, Hair is art. Full stop.

Take us through your creative process, and how it may differ between prepping for a show and an editorial?

I’m a monster researcher. I get lost in movies and take so many photos of my TV screen. I gorge online, I save en mass, and then I put stories together. I’m so visual, my brain makes wild connections and I tie images into ideas and then tie the ideas into propositions. This process is pretty much the same for shows and editorials. The difference comes in the final idea selections as model numbers, time allotted, and the evolvement of the hair style itself. For me, the execution of the idea is as important as the idea itself. 

What is your approach to hair as art?

Whether it’s from a sculptural perspective that explores the space above and around the head, or from a color composition that embraces all elements of the image, hair is art. Full stop. As a session stylist I am blessed to contribute to the final image. What or where I shape and place, strengthens or weakens the image. So, being fast on my feet and flexible to adapt with visual taste is key. 

What’s one thing you wish you had known sooner about the beauty/fashion industry, and what advice would you give to younger hair stylists who look at your work and are inspired to charter a path similar to yours?

I don’t have any regrets, I love that my path has been so varied. I would tell anyone that you end up where you are meant to be.  I’ve worked hard to be able to do the hair I want to do, and I wholeheartedly believe that experience pays off – the slow burn versus the fast burn. The journey is the destination. I’m 51 now and so excited to see where I end up once I’m fully grown. 

Has the pandemic changed the way you approach or think about your career as an artist?

It’s changed the way I work since I stopped flying. This in turn changed my body. The pandemic allowed me to rest, recharge, and rethink. The pressure of needing to constantly be producing was lifted allowing the stress triggers to not dial in. The traits I embodied from being constantly on point, and allowed my mind to carry, no longer existed. I’m so happy to leave that weight behind in 2020. I always valued every job, now I value them 1 million times more. My personality is not designed to be alone in my apartment as I thrive on interaction. I live for sharing time and ideas with fellow creatives and I missed everyone and everything about “set life” so much. Now, we are back and I feel like I just left college again and am starting out fresh – full of fuel, inspiration, and the desire to create. 

In a world – and industry – that has changed so much in the last year, where do you find inspiration?

I’m inspired by the changing world. Being in New York, the youth that took to the streets in protest lifted my heart and eyes in so many ways. I find hope in them. I admire their fight to be part of changing the narrative. I believe in this change. I believe our world needs all the changes. We will be better from this. Our planet will be renewed. I’m all for this reset and I’m excited by it. Bring it on! 

There has been a lot of talk about diversity and calls for a more inclusive environment in the beauty and fashion industry lately. Many have called out artists in the industry for only knowing how to work with one type of skin and hair. What are your thoughts on this issue? 

Hair education has been purely one sided. Even when I started out in training, we were only trained in Caucasian hair. Over the lockdown, I bought my first dolly heads of color to learn on and was actually so shocked to realize that this was why we had been kept apart for so long. Honestly,  after everything, hair is hair. I used to say, you know the hair on your own head and leave my thought train there, but now, I see that this is not the end of the conversation and that I can do more. For me, it was not being confident that stopped me. My beautiful team has helped me by sharing their knowledge, and my confidence has grown tenfold by knowing how to section natural hair in preparation of styling, twist outs, and knowing what tools to use In consideration of the structure of the strands themselves. I really do not understand why education in the past has been separated, it makes absolutely no sense at all. Once you have the knowledge, you can proceed to practice and grow just the same as you did with your formal training.

What would you like your legacy to look like?

I want my legacy to say that I brought beautiful colors to every set, energizing everyone with love, positivity, and unicorn magic!