Bruce Robert creates magic as a hair stylist and makeup artist for the salon he co-owns in Old Town Scottsdale, MelRuce. Robert not only brings out the best in his clients, he also educates them with home styling tips to keep them looking fabulous. Get to know the 36-year-old Glendale resident, whose services include updos and extensions, as well as special events, better here. Listen to him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video, too.
What brought you to Arizona?
I was birthed here. I went to Moon Valley High School and took some classes at Glendale Community College, Phoenix College and ASU West in addition to cosmetology school at Artistic in Glendale.
How did you get involved in the beauty industry?
I did theater all through high school, so I had been involved in doing costuming, hair and makeup through that. I would always do my sister’s hair when she would go to dances. I had two friends who were going to beauty school, so it’s kind of like a mix of all of that.
How did you open MelRuce?
My co-worker Melissa and I were working at a salon called Socio and decided we wanted to work for ourselves, so we left and opened our own salon.
Why are you passionate about beauty?
I love it. I always joke with my friends, “Women should be pretty.” I worked for Bobbi Brown a little bit, and she said all women are beautiful, and all women are pretty, but with the right makeup, they can be pretty powerful. I totally agree with her and think she’s right.
How can people determine what haircut is best for them?
It’s not anything specific – it’s your own aesthetic. I definitely like to do soft colors that are flattering over something that is trendy or crazy. I’ll do them, but I love someone who has a nice soft hair color that looks good on them.
As far as length, I don’t think because you’re over 50 you have to cut your hair off. If you have really thin hair, obviously you can’t have it down to your waist unless you put fake hair in. It’s making the most of what you have.
I don’t want to be too trendy. Like shoes, I’d rather have a classic, not-dateable look with hair. It could be a little contemporary, but not over the top.
What hair care tips do you have?
I always tell my clients with styling to put forth that effort on the first day. It’s going to be dry and frizzy before it’s smooth and shiny. If you just take that first day of washing your hair and really get it smooth, shiny and looking great, you can wear that for two or three days.
That brings my to my next point, which is stop washing your hair every day. It dries your hair out. You don’t have to be doing your hair that much.
What’s the key to getting it smoothy and shiny?
You have to keep working it. If you’re round-brushing it, you have to keep rounding it until it’s smooth and shiny. You can’t just do it quickly and have it be good enough — it’s going to be dry and frizzy.
It’s the same with the flat iron. You have to take smaller sections, and you need to slowly go through it. You don’t just whip through it in huge chunks. Like anything, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
What tips do you have for maintaining your color?
Don’t wash it once or twice a day. I always suggest a nice professional shampoo and conditioner from a reputable distributor, not a half-price product from a grocery store. Go to Ulta, or go to your hair care professional, and get a good product. It really does make your hair color last.
I have a client who had been using a bad product, and she finally used a good one. She had noticed after several months, the hair faded, so the color we did blended in with her regrowth because her hair faded so much. When she started using a good shampoo, she actually started noticing the regrowth, which meant the color was staying. That really showed her how much the color was stripping out with the bad shampoo.
If you’re paying to get your hair done and stripping out the color because of a bad shampoo, that doesn’t make sense.
What are your favorite hair care products?
I love marrakesh oil. When you touch it, it seems heavier than Moroccan oil, but in the hair, it actually is lighter. Anybody can use it, and I’ve had people sometimes say the Moroccan oil is too heavy.
I like a nice volumizing mousse if you’re wanting a little bit of fullness. I use Goldwell shampoos and conditioners — I love them. Use a good color-care conditioner, and then use some styling products to keep it smooth and healthy.
What are your favorite makeup brands?
MAC, Bobbi Brown, Hourglass, Make Up For Ever, NARS – I love those brands.
What mistakes do people tend to make with their makeup?
People are over-powdering. It’s about making the skin have an even tone and a gorgeous look, but not necessarily like it’s overly made-up.
Definitely, concealing under your eyes is a big thing. Once you do that, you notice how much nicer the skin overall looks. The NARS concealer is nice, and I use the Pro Longwear concealer from MAC. Kevin Aucoin has good stuff, too.
What tips do you have for applying makeup?
I like to do a little highlight and contour to bring out the structure of the face. If you blend the concealer under the eyes and blend it down in the cheek, you’re adding in a little bit of highlight.
I don’t think there should not be any, but I don’t like the over-contouring and -highlighting that’s happening, at least in the daytime. If you’re going out at night and want a more dramatic look, sure, go for a more dramatic highlight and contour. But people are doing nighttime contour in the daytime, and I don’t like that.
How would you say you stand out as a hair stylist and makeup artist?
I educate my clients more than they need to be. Just yesterday, I was telling a client who had moved away but came back to see me when she was in town how to darken up and get rid of some of the red that was in her blonde hair. She had been doing highlights, which she didn’t need to do.
When I’m doing someone’s makeup, I’ll give them the tips and tricks on how to make it better. I think I’m a great hairdresser and makeup artist, but the fact I’m educating while doing it is a strength.
What are essential makeup tools?
I have been using my fingers a lot more professionally than I used to, but definitely having a nice set of brushes is important – a good powder brush, a good blush brush, two great eye brushes to blend your eyeshadow — since you’re applying with one and blending with another — and an angled brush. Having those five brushes alone is great.
If you want an airbrush-y finish, you can get a buff brush to put on your foundation. I moisturize the skin and sometimes use a primer before really working the foundation into the skin and blending it well.
What advice do you have for aspiring hairstylists or makeup artists?
Go for it. Get an education, learn every trick you can, watch online tutorials, and experiment to find out what method works best for you.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to open their own salon?
When you’re a business owner, you have to put in a lot more work than if you’re working for someone. It takes time. You can’t just go out and get your license and expect in a year you’re going to own a big salon. It doesn’t work like that. You have to make a plan and be realistic with your goals and expectations.
What are the biggest benefits and challenges to owning your own business?
The downside is if I take a week off to go out of town, I don’t get paid for that vacation. You have to pay for medical insurance and things like that. The benefit is I can take off to go out of town if I need to whenever. I am my own boss, and for me personally, I like managing myself. I like the freedom to come and go as I please and that I’m not being told what to do by someone else.
I’m not with a company that is sending me all these clients, but everything is mine. I determine my income.
What are your goals?
I want to do the best job I can with my clients and make them look good and feel good. I remember reading this article that was talking about makeup and how men are always telling women, “You don’t need to wear makeup, you look good without it.” In the article, the writer was saying how he felt he was letting his girlfriend off the hook for not having to do her hair or makeup, but what he didn’t realize was doing her hair and makeup wasn’t about him. She felt good when she did her hair and makeup and looked good. It was about herself.
I have women come in all the time who leave and say everything is magical, and they always are complimentary, and they feel good when they look good. It’s doing little things that help you put the best you out there you can.
What beauty tips do you have for males?
For men, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of product. Even as a guy, you don’t want to let yourself become dated, with a shaggy, grown-out, almost mullet-y-looking style.
If your hair is thinning, a comb-over doesn’t make you look like you have more hair. You have to be realistic with what’s going on. If your hair is getting thin, cut it shorter, because that looks better.
And there’s nothing wrong with men taking care of their skin by washing and moisturizing their face.