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Photography Ruth Ossai, via @issacvpoleon

Issac Poleon’s avant-garde Black hairstyles are created on pure instinct

TextDominic Cadogan

The London-based hairstylist’s celebratory styles have seen him collaborate with Fenty, Mowalola, Campbell Addy, and Kelsey Lu

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 makeup prodigies transforming themselves in their bedrooms, these are the beauty influencers of tomorrow who embody everything Dazed Beauty is about. Discover them here.

If you need a reminder about the enduring power of Black hair, look no further than our Rooted campaign from earlier this year, which explored the nuance of Black beauty through the eyes of creatives like Nadine Ijiwere, Jawara, Amber Pinkerton, and Tracee Ellis Ross

“I believe Black hair’s power comes from its versatility and ability to defy gravity – the power of a healthy ‘fro is unstoppable,” explains hairstylist Issac Poleon, a London-based hairstylist whose work inherently celebrates Black beauty. 

After destiny led him into a salon aged 17, he hasn’t looked back and immersed himself in the wild world of hair. Since then, he’s worked for fashion brands including Rihanna’s Fenty, Mowalola, Gareth Pugh, and with creatives like Campbell Addy, Ib Kamara, and Kelsey Lu. Drawing inspiration from the 90s and classic Black hairstyles, his work bounces from snaking distressed braids and gravity defying up-dos, to sleek spit curls and gigantic afros. 

While Black hairstyles are Issac’s raison d’être, he’s keen to note that they’re possible for hairstylists of any ethnicity to achieve, with the right care and training. “The most common misconceptions around afro hair are its manageability and durability,” he explains. “A lot of people in the industry fear it’s density and that’s down to the lack of education around afro hair. The key is nourishment and moisture and the possibilities are endless!” 

Here, we speak to Issac about his career highlights, how he wants to change the world, and the future of the lace front. 

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

Issac Poleon: I’m a 28-year-old Virgo Avatar who loves everything green (excluding reptiles). I have two whippets and own a small hair studio in Brixton with my best friend. I’m 90 per cent vegetarian and I’m passionate about living and loving. I grew up in Battersea, south west London, which is where I live now. 

What is it you do and how did you get into it?

Issac Poleon: I’m a hairstylist and I work in the fashion and music industry. When I was 17, a guardian angel of mine was getting her done in a salon in Battersea. At the time, I was super lost and couldn’t find my feet, so the angel of mine set up a meeting at the salon and before I knew it, I was immersed in hair. I haven’t looked back since. 

What are you trying to communicate through your work and why? Where do you draw inspiration from?  

Issac Poleon: I try to express freedom of creation. Commercial styling can be more tame and natural, but when I get the opportunity to create freely and collaborate with different designers and artists, I try my hardest to elevate the looks as much as I can. I take a lot of inspirations from the 90s; I love the hair culture from the era and the styles were so elemental. I think they’ve transcended right through to the current styles we see now.

Can you talk us through some of your favourite looks/images? What response did they get?

Issac Poleon: I would have to say the Fenty Cameo collection I shot with Ruth Ossai. The team was incredible, the talent was insane, it was an amazing day as I was given full creative freedom. From the moment I sculpted the beehives, everything changed for me. I got an overwhelming response from this image and it was truly a moment in my career that I’ll never forget. 

What’s been your career highlight so far and what do you hope to accomplish ultimately?

Issac Poleon: My career highlights so far have to be starring on the cover of Luncheon shot by my dear friend Ib Kamara, shooting a collective of talents with Campbell Addy for Harper’s Bazaar US, and getting sponsored by L’Oréal to shoot Gareth Pugh SS21 with Nick Knight – to name a few, but I’ve got some exciting work to come! 

I find it hard to answer what I want to accomplish ultimately as I’m the type of person who doesn’t see ultimate accomplishment, I believe it changes all the time and it’s one of the thing that have kept me inspired and driven. Accomplishment is introspective and relates to the position you’re presently at, so what that looks like to me will change as it has so many time since I started hairstyling. The future has so many outcomes for me, so ultimately, I hope to accomplish the things that are meant for me. 

What are you working on at the moment? 

Issac Poleon: Virginie Moreira and I are currently working on a few personal projects including a second studio space that will host a regular client base specialising in all hair types and textures – something that has been in the pipeline for the last three months. This will be a sister company to our hair studio Zazzah’s currently based in Pop Brixton. 

What does beauty mean to you?

Issac Poleon: Beauty is all-encompassing and individual. I believe it truly comes from within and transcends through you. 

Describe your beauty aesthetic in three words.

Issac Poleon: Avant-garde, considered, instinctive. 

What’s your favourite smell and why?

Issac Poleon: I love the smell of sandalwood, it’s such a comforting scent and makes me feel warm. 

When do you feel most beautiful?

Issac Poleon: I feel most beautiful after a long day of sunbathing and recharging my melanin, the glow is crazy for the girls!

How do you want to change the world?

Issac Poleon: I would simplify it. The world is too full of opinion and people are obsessed with complicating things they don’t understand. If the world was simplified, we could bring it back to humanity and unity and most of the worldly problems probably wouldn’t exist. 

You’re the editor of a time-travelling beauty journal 100 years from now, what beauty trends are you reporting on? 

Issac Poleon: The future of the full lace unit! Interchangeable styles and the touch of a button in your hands, would probably be the headline.

It is the sixth day and you are creating humans. They can look however you want them to. What do they look like and why?

Issac Poleon: They would look like avatars because they look fab

What is the future of beauty?

Issac Poleon: The future of beauty is ever-changing. 

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