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Aya Kuraoka hairstylist
Courtesy of Aya Kuraoka

Aya Kuraoka, the fearless new disruptor of hairstyling

From dip-dyed wigs to neon cuts and colour-blocked mullets, Aya Kuraoka’s bold and conceptual hairstyles promote individuality and self-expression

The Dazed Beauty Community is our ever-expanding encyclopaedia of creatives and emerging talent from across the world who are redefining the way we think about beauty. From supermodels to digital artists to make-up prodigies transforming themselves in their bedrooms, these are the beauty influencers of tomorrow who embody everything Dazed Beauty is about. Discover them here.

Full of acid greens, lemon yellows and Leeloo oranges, Aya Kuraoka’s work makes a colourful statement. The London-based, Japanese-born hairstylist and wigmaker is not one for a boring brunette, as evidenced by a portfolio brimming with vibrancy and rainbow hues which seems to ask the question: why have hair that’s just one colour when it can be every colour all at once?

In an ever-evolving beauty landscape that centres around art and self-expression, Kuraoka has emerged as a creative pioneer in the realm of hairstyling. Dynamic, with a punk, rebellious flair that emphasises individuality, she embraces surreal and impressionistic styles that challenge traditional notions of hair colour and style. From rainbow pigtails and choppy, asymmetrical fringes to Kill Bill-esque jellyfish cuts and tie-dye streaks, Kuraoka’s distinctive, out-of-the-box personality is reflected in every hairdo she creates.

Kuraoka’s punk artistic vision has seen her tapped by designers like Kiko Kostadinov and Cormio and publications including Schön! Magazine. For Polyester Zine, she styled wigs for Euphoria actress and Gen Z icon Chloe Cherry, with a mermaid blue mullet and a go-big-or-go-home blonde Dolly Parton-esque look. For Infringe Magazine, she created neon short cuts in vivid hues and motorcycle helmet-like structures, paying homage to traditionally masculine influences while challenging conventional norms. 

What sets Kuraoka apart from the crowd is her commitment to non-conventional, mould-breaking hairstyles – a mentality that she has had since childhood, when her mother would do her hair differently from everyone else at school. “Maybe because of that, even when I grew up I liked to dress differently from my friends,” she says. Now, she uses her work to convey the joys of free self-expression; her passion for breaking boundaries allows her to emerge as a disruptor in the world of avant-garde hairstyling.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you grew up?

Aya Kuraoka: I grew up in Hiroshima. I lived with my mother who loved fashion, my father who was good with his hands and made everything by himself, and my older brother who liked Manga and games. My mother made me dress differently and do my hair differently. All my friends had bangs, but I never did until middle school. Maybe because of that, even when I grew up, I liked to dress differently from my friends. When I was in elementary school, I started reading a lot of fashion magazines, and in middle school I learned about Vogue and became interested in London.

How did you get into hairstyling?

Aya Kuraoka: I used to work at a hair salon in Japan, but I wanted to be more creative, so I did hair contests and did photo shoots. To be honest, I didn’t think Japanese hair contests were cool, so I couldn't find a reason to participate in them.

What are you trying to communicate through your work?

Aya Kuraoka: Through my work, I am trying to convey how hair can change the way people look, and the joy of fashion and the freedom of expression. I was born and raised in Japan, so I’ve seen people with similar hairstyles and fashions who don’t really express their individuality. And when I came to London, I was surprised that there is such a wide variety of fashion and everyone has their own fashion sense. The difference between Japanese [people] and Londoners is that Londoners don't care what other people think. I was convinced that [this] was correct. People should enjoy their favourite fashion without worrying about what others think!

What’s been your career highlight so far?

Aya Kuraoka: Being able to do hair for a [runway] show of a brand that has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. KIKO KOSTADINOV.

Describe your beauty aesthetic in three words.

Aya Kuraoka: Balance, little weird, classy.

Who is your beauty icon? 

Aya Kuraoka: Zoe Kravitz, she’s very natural and unpretentious, and she looks cool and cute.

What is your current obsession?

Aya Kuraoka: I’ve been sick for a long time lately, so I'm obsessed with self-care for my mind and body. I once again realised the importance of being healthy. I research and try to find out about exercise and food nutrition.

What does beauty mean to you?

Aya Kuraoka: It's natural, healthy and balanced.

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