Q&A: Jared Leto’s Hairstylist on His Perfect Oscars Hair

Photo: Getty

Congratulations to Jared Leto, double winner! Not only did he win an Oscar last night for Dallas Buyers Club, he also easily won the night's best hair. In an uneventful night of Hollywood waves and shellacked updos, Leto's hair stood out for its shine, lived-in ease, and perfect hommebré. Chase Kusero, Leto's longtime hairstylist, created his look for the event in a two-day process, which involved sleeping in Vidal Sassoon Creme Wave Pomade and Wave Primer Spray, followed the next day by a touch of Vidal Sassoon Colorfinity Dry Shampoo and flat-ironing fewer than ten pieces to enhance his hair's natural wave. The Cut spoke to Kusero to learn more about Leto's Oscar-night hair, including what happened to that wet man-bun and his mom's great hair.

Contrary to earlier reports, you and Jared Leto didn’t go for a wet man-bun look!

Well, I had a little miscommunication with another site which said, "My biggest challenge is not to make him look like a woman." That was not a challenge, because he is definitely a man. Throughout this journey of long hair, it was never our intention to be on the list of best hair. But the less we’ve done, the better it looks. This is who he is. He doesn’t have long hair for a movie or role, it’s because he’s a rock star, in a band, a movie star, and because he’s Jared Leto.

What were some of the things that you and Jared discussed when it came to creating this look?

He wanted it to be natural, so there’s no craft. It’s not the kind of thing where we do a ton of hair trials; it’s more of a feeling. Once we saw his Saint Laurent white jacket, which had an iconic kind of vibe, it just made sense to leave the hair down.

We were also conscious of the stage he is on. It doesn’t get bigger than this. It had to be a little bit ”Jared” in his own terms. Jared wears skinny jeans and a flannel. He’s not a tuxedo guy. It was more important that it felt lived-in and natural, than if he had worn his hair up with a pony bun.

His mom has pretty great hair.

His mom just shows up and looks amazing. That’s where he gets it from. He has great hair. Someone asked me earlier if he had extensions, and he wouldn’t be caught dead with extensions. Like, never. Less is more with him. He has great genetics, obviously. I’m more the maestro, to guide the style and direction of where it goes over the next five to six years.

It’s interesting because hair is usually about women. In this case, it’s crossed that boundary of both. Men want his hair. Women want his hair.

Have people been requesting Jared Leto's color?

Oh, absolutely. I was recently in New York, where, I work every two months. There was someone directly next to me, doing a consultation with a man that brought in a picture of Jared and said, "This is the direction I’m going." And women, too. People sending me tweets, from Olivia Wilde to other actresses, asking me, "What is Jared’s secret?"

What is the secret? Does Jared do anything special to take care of his hair?

Jared is one of the most healthiest people I know. He’s been vegan for years, with no alcohol or cigarettes. Jared lives [like] a true sense of a superstar. You have to take care of your body and mind, the food you eat. 

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Actor Jared Leto attends the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images) Photo: Christopher Polk/2014 Getty Images

Why do you think Jared’s hair has captivated so many people?

I think Jared has been a name that everyone knows. But he hasn’t been around. He is coming back in a big way. Part of it is also because he looks the way he does, he’s one of the best-looking guys in Hollywood. It’s a combination of Jared having great hair and trusting me to create different things. At the end of the day, he’s a professional. He doesn’t want to think about his hair.

Do you think he’s just going to cut it all off now that there’s been so much hype about it?

Yeah. We’ve discussed it. I think right now, we are happy with the way it’s hanging naturally. When we started this process, we actually wanted it even longer. Everyone needs a vacation. Hopefully, if we cut it, it will be for a role.

Do you use a balayage technique to get his color so perfect?

That color at Jared's roots, that is his natural color. Jared has the color that I could only dream of doing when I first started out. I just never thought it would be on a guy.

I see more balayage when I work in New York. It’s not happening as much in Los Angeles. It’s a hand-painted, teasing effect that blends the color. It’s less of a painted-on surface of the color, but about blending it in mid-shaft and then blending it in the ends. It’s more of an eye, seeing where to put those pieces of color from one to the next.

Is it difficult to get Jared to endure the coloring process?

No, it’s fast. We do it in a way that’s more off-the-cuff. We don’t really think about it. We just add a few more light pieces. I’ve had long hair past my shoulders for pieces for years and just got it recently. But I believe, like Samson, you lose your power when you cut your hair. And we are not superstitious, but we didn’t want to cut Jared’s hair, especially for tonight.

Even with the tones I’m using, I try to make it look natural.  [Laughs] Someone the other night told me I have the hardest job in Hollywood by making a guy that is as pretty as Jared look less pretty.