July 18th, 2022
Adele returned to the stage this month in her hometown of London, after a five-year break from live performances. Over the two nights in Hyde Park, Adele entertained crowds of 130,000 and did not disappoint. The man behind her elegant up do is Sami Knight – an LA based session hairstylist and the creator of some of Adele’s most iconic looks over the years.
Before relocating to Los Angeles, Sami trained at Nina’s Hair Parlour in London. His signature blend of retro style and vibrant modernity can be seen across the vast array of looks he’s created. His emphasis on glamour and lavish femininity is achieved through his skillful styling techniques and masterful wig work.
His work has been featured in editorials for numerous publications including i-D, Harper’s Bazaar, 10 Magazine, Rolling Stone, Oyster and VICE, having collaborated with photographers Nadia Lee Cohen, Louie Banks, Olivia Malone and Alex de Mora. His celebrity clients also include Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding, Laura Haddock, Ciara, Rita Ora, Jessie J, Anne-Marie and Cameron Diaz.
We caught up with Sami to talk all things hair and about REHAB. – the new London-based eco brand he has started working with.
Tell us about your hair-styling journey – how did you get started in hair?
I got started in a pretty unorthodox way, I did my degree in photography, and took a job as a hairdressers salon apprentice just for some pocket money. I ended up enjoying the hairdressing more than taking photos, and was certainly a better hairdresser than I was a photographer. I forged ahead with it, and just kept moving through the industry until now. It was a pretty organic evolution from salon to session work, and then into the music industry. I don’t think it would have happened for me if it wasn’t for the apprenticeship. Not everyone can, or wants to learn in a classroom environment, I’m very fortunate to have had that opportunity! And now I’m working with the most incredible talent the industry has seen.
What advice would you give to those who would love to become a hair-stylist?
Work really really hard, and learn as many techniques as you can. I think there’s a huge gap in hair education for how to actually style hair. You have to go out and teach yourself, learn from others, go to seminars, practice on your friends etc… make it happen!
What are the products you cannot live without as a stylist?
A lot of the work I do starts with a good classic curling iron set. It sets a good base for a multitude of different styles. To prep that, I’ll start with a volumising mousse or spray, and rough dry that in for some texture. Then I tong set with a medium to light hold hairspray, which acts as a setting lotion. When I brush out, I find it best to get a dab of hair oil onto the palms and backs of my hands, and apply through the hair. Rubbing my hands to distribute more oil, as I make sure the product has an even coverage. Hairspray is the product I most use. I always have a few different kinds, and usually carry spares.
You’ve just started working with hair brand REHAB. – tell us about that.
I love REHAB.! It’s clear to me that the main focus is healthy hair. Healing oils that actually add goodness back into your tresses, while making them look great at the same time, is a no-brainer. That combined with the no heat curling system is such a winner. I think it’s evident from the branding in general, that this is a care based product with a focus on sustainability.
What is your favourite REHAB. product and why?
I’ve been using the Dose 1.0 Hair Oil and I love it. Most oils weigh my hair down, and end up looking greasy, as opposed to luscious. This does the exact opposite, giving me really silky shiny healthy hair. I’ve been using it on both wet and dry hair, and it’s been super effective both ways. I’m a fan! The dosed pods are great, as it gives you a prescribed measurement for application. The biodegradability is an essential, I think most of us these days are concerned about the environment. So micro plastics, or petroleum products aren’t an issue to worry about here.
What is it you like about the brand?
I love brands that are in the game to make a difference, rather than making a quick buck with a gimmick. I think REHAB. has a goal to make effective, and accessible products to give everyone the hair they crave, and this will become more evident as the product range grows. As a bonus, I’m a big supporter of female owned brands, and all efforts to make products, and tools sustainable. Two big thumbs up!
What are your top products for keeping hair healthy?
My top products for keeping hair healthy start with care, not shampooing too often, but using a soap free high quality wash when you do, which maintains your hair’s natural oils without stripping them away. Good quality leave in conditioners are great if you’re slicking your hair, instead of using harsh, and drying gels or waxes. Using a heat protectant is a must if you’re styling with direct heat, as this is when most damage occurs. Also, using an SPF lotion on your hair when you’re out in the sunshine, especially at the beach, or around the pool. You can literally use any water-based sunscreen lotion on your hair, I often dilute mine further with water, and spray on. It makes such a difference to keeping your hair healthy for prolonged sun exposure. The REHAB. Dose hair oil would always be a great addition to a healthy haircare routine. It’s very light, so there’s no build-up. It’s absorbed into the hair cuticle, and nourishes really well. It can be used before styling as a smoother. After styling for additional shine and silkiness, or even before bed for some nocturnal nourishment.
Are there any hair trends you’re loving at the moment?
I think more and more texture is going to be a big movement coming up in hair. I think the ease at which a consumer can add waves into their hair with a heatless curler is going to make them very popular. Anytime you can style your hair without using heat, you’re helping your hair. It prevents breakage, as well as preserving the integrity and shine of your hair.
Adding braids into damp hair and sleeping on them is also another great way to get texture into hair without heat. I’d love to see what a combination of loosely braided hair wrapped around the heatless curler tool would achieve. Endless possibilities.
Are there any hair movements or fashions you wish would come back?
I think there’s something about a really good blowout that’s magic. The heat and the brush will smooth the cuticle, and make your hair shiny and should last for days. No need for a flat iron, or curler afterwards, just a really great blowout.
What is your favourite all-time hair look on a client?
My favourite look on a client is the one that makes them look their best. I’ve been told before that when I say this it sounds corny, or cliché, but I’m just not someone that’s going to try and push the latest trend, or technique on someone just because everyone else is. For me, a great hairstyle is one that is totally tailored to the individual. If they look and feel the best they ever have, that’s my all-time favourite look.
How do you find travelling around the world for your career?
It’s without a doubt the best part of my job, I love to travel! There has been less of it since covid, so I hope that it comes back again! I miss it! Especially my trips to Asia and Australia!
What has been your career highlight to date?
There have been so many, and I’m immensely proud of all of them. The real highlight of my career is having built a roster of incredibly talented, and kind clients (including Adele, Rita Ora and Jessie J) who really value what I do, and trust me to be part of their team, and work on their hair. That is a true joy.
Follow Sami on Instagram.
REHAB. products can transform burnt-out, over styled locks in minutes. The debut collection includes the unique Dose 1.0 Hair Oil (£26), Silk Heatless Curler (£35) and Vital Hairbrush (£12). Beautifully packaged with accessible pricing, REHAB. is also an eco-friendly contribution to the market.