The secret of 'power hair'

Meet Oprah Winfrey's hair guru
Meet Oprah Winfrey's hair guru

It's quite possible that no man is better-versed in "power hair" than Andre Walker.

Walker has styled the coifs of Michelle Obama, Barbara Bush and, most famously, Oprah Winfrey (he has in fact been Oprah's personal hair guru for 30 years). Halle Berry's iconic pixie 'do? That was his doing.

"Powerful women are often the center of attention, whether they're speaking to the media, campaigning for president or running a Fortune 500 company," says Walker.

"A few strands out of place can become distracting to their audience or can easily ruin a red carpet look. So usually there is a someone like me on the sidelines when a powerful woman is making an appearance to ensure she is always 'picture perfect.'"

Related: Power hairstyles through the ages

A league of his own

Recently, Walker has thrown himself into his own product line full-time, a move he says, was the culmination of the time he spent working with Oprah.

"Working with Oprah has definitely changed my career," he admits.

"She's given me a platform to really show my craft and talent."

In addition to the exposure he's gained from appearing on her show, regularly performing makeovers, Walker says he has been shaped by the travel he's done with Oprah over the years.

"I've been to many, many places with her: to Tina Turner's home in the South of France, just sitting and listening to Tina Turner telling funny stories. Then from there going to India. It's been very enriching," he admits, and has proved a constant source of inspiration.

Oprah has also helped him test out his products.

"I tested the formulas over and over again to make sure they all worked. I used Oprah as one of my test people and I used myself," he admits.

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The pressures of power

Walker's product range is designed to give everyday women the same shine and confidence afforded to his celebrity clientele, who, he maintains, are just like us when it comes to their expectations.

"Once we both agree on a look it's like styling anyone," he admits. That said, there's no denying the job of a celebrity stylist is high-pressure; Walker and his colleagues have to meet some pretty exacting standards.

"I was always a little intimidated each time I worked on a cover for O Magazine," Walker admits.

"Even though I worked with the best beauty, styling and design team in the business, I always wanted to be on top of my game. Can you imagine being the weak link?"

Given that Oprah has worn myriad styles through the decades, it's a given that at least one or two wouldn't have worked for her.

"There have only been a few times where she absolutely disliked a new style. There was a time I cut her hair into a bob. It wasn't her favorite and I heard about it for years," admits Walker.

Early Oprah Winfrey and Andre Walker
Andre Walker has styled Oprah's hair for 30 years.

A mane for all seasons

Like your accessories, your hair should vary depending on the occasion, says Walker.

"Your hairstyles can be a varied as your wardrobe," he notes.

"There are certain clothes that you wear to a meeting, a formal dinner, a casual lunch or a fun night out for a concert and dancing. And there are different hairstyles that will work for all of these looks and occasions."

Mainly, though, he says that when choosing a signature look, it should be something that reflects the individual.

"Your hair should always look healthy and your hairstyle should reflect your personal style. In the end, whatever your style choice, if it makes you feel good your confidence will shine."

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