Top international prize for West Cork hairdresser Ciarán O'Sullivan

After taking a chance, a West Cork teenager takes on the world at a top hairdressing competition today, but Ciarán O’Sullivan has not forgotten his roots, writes Louise McCarthy.

Ciarán O'Sullivan at the Wayne Lloyd hair salon.

It’s all thanks to his mammy that 19-year-old Ciarán O’Sullivan is in Brussels today, preparing to become an internationally renowned hairdresser.

Working at Wayne Lloyd, Washington St, Cork City, Ciarán is representing Ireland against 15 other countries. He will be among the créme de la créme of hairdressing in Brussels today and tomorrow (May 4-5). For Ciarán, being chosen as the final 15 in the world, is mindblowing.He will be cutting a male style at the All Star Challenge.

But if he hadn’t followed his mother Angela’s advice when he was 16, and do a week’s Transition Year work experience at Wayne Lloyd in Ballydehob, things could be very different. Before that he had thought he would become a physiotherapist, as he was actively involved in all sorts of sports, including rugby and football.

Still playing for his native Glengarriff GAA, Ciarán admits hairdressing was an “out of the box” choice.

“I was a lad’s lad, enjoying going to the gym, work experience, playing sports. I always had an interest in physio and anatomy. My mother said for your work experience: ‘Why not try something different?’ I looked at her with four eyes, I was in a bit of shock. I was half and half about it, and thought: ‘Ya I might as well go for it.’ ”

Ciarán O’Sullivan at the salon’s second birthday party with Sophie Murphy, Katie Crowley and Brittnany Ambrose.

Following work experience, he got a job every Saturday. He became full time in September, after completing his Leaving Cert. Ciarán is now also being trained in women’s hairstyling and colouring and is currently learning how to highlight women’s locks.

Ciarán loves his job, and loved it from that first day in Ballydehob. He believes that men are becoming more conscious of styling their hair and are increasingly willing to spend money on a haircut. However, he feels that men are still somewhat reluctant to try something different. Therefore, he urges men to be organised when it comes to their hair appointments.

Ciaran advises that a good hair style needs consultations and time. He advises that it takes one to two cuts for a style to be perfected.

He says: “Men are a lot more interested in their hair. A lot of men expect to walk in and get a haircut. People have to have the patience to get the type of haircut that they want, it could take a few different haircuts. Although Ireland is starting to evolve in hairdressing, men are still finding it hard to change and do something different.”

Ciarán is also hopeful that men are starting to look after themselves more.

He said: “We would see a lot of men getting coverage for grey. This shows that men are willing to look after themselves more. Women have no problem spending money on their hair. Men are starting to follow this and value a good haircut.”

Ciarán with Jennifer O’Connor, Chris Daly, proprietor Wayne Lloyd, Danielle Howard and Wenda Partridge.

According to Ciarán, many Cork men are now getting their hair highlighted, especially since football player Messi did so.

He anticipates that this summer there will be an increasing amount of men exploring colouring options.

“Cork is growing as a county for style,” he says.

Ciarán is hopeful that more men will start looking outside the box, when it comes to their hair.

However, he fears that Irish men worry too much about what other people may think.

“You should always be confident with your hair, if you are happy with it,” he says.

He is looking forward to the Brussels challenge where he will battle it out with the best in the world, but admits he doesn’t know what to expect, as a hair type can completely change the style of a haircut.

There are “three aspects” to a good haircut, he says — the back and sides, “papering it down” and, as he points out, the sideburns can make the style look classy. “It is about giving the hair a better finish,” he says.

One day, this ambitious and successful West Cork teenager aspires to set up his own business. He is certainly making strides in the right direction. In March, Ciarán had his hair cut feature on the front page of the well-established Irish Barber Magazine and is he now looking to become top in the world at his profession.

He says: “Setting up my own business, one day, would be my dream come true.”

Ciarán is extremely thankful to his parents, Angela and Peter, along with his siblings, for supporting him, and all the staff at Wayne Lloyds, describing them as a “family”.


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