Brad Mondo / Shutterstock
Forget Wolf Cuts, Brad Mondo Says Zebra Cuts Could Be Coming To A Salon Near You
The renowned hairstylist also shares the one hair trend he’ll never do again, his life-long love of mullets, and more.
In They’re Lit, Elite Daily highlights the men, trans, and nonbinary creators in the beauty industry who are busting through antiquated gender boundaries and proving beauty is, and always will be, for everyone. In this installment, the reigning king of the reaction video, brand founder, and all-around brilliant hairstylist Brad Mondo chats about his rise to social media fame, his “go for it” mentality, and the 2022 hair trends you’re about to try yourself.
Is it just me, or did I just become best friends with Brad Mondo? That’s the question I had to ask myself after my recent chat with social media’s favorite hairstylist. During our roughly 30-minute interview, he offers style advice, trend whispers, and, at one point, shoos out his interview-interrupting pup, with a breezy air of friendliness that would make anyone feel totally at ease. It’s a level of charm beyond charming and it could explain why so many people turn to him for hair gospel, sharing even their most disastrous hair transformations with him. He’s basically the whole damn internet’s BFF and, on your worst hair day, he’ll be your biggest cheerleader. He’ll be real with you, but never mean about it. He’ll tell it like it is, but won’t make you feel bad for not knowing what he knows. And his vibes are, frankly, infectious.
It’s the vibes — and the styling tips, which are bomb and should not be ignored — that keep his audience count across TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram over 17 million strong and ever-growing. Whether he’s reacting to someone trying the wolf cut challenge, bleaching their hair in their bathroom at home, or a stylist making technicolor magic with his XMONDO COLOR line, the vibes are immaculate. He’s gasping, laughing, and cringing with you, never at you. “It’s just hair,” he tells me over the phone. “You can always buy a wig.”
Mondo’s vivacity could soften even the bluntest cut. He starts his YouTube videos — some of which have upwards of 20 million views — with a wide-open smile and an exuberant, “Hello, beautiful.” It’s a mix of his genuine enthusiasm for all things hair and a willingness to throw his whole body into his reactions that make him so compulsively watchable. But it’s his actual wealth of knowledge that keeps fans glued to his YouTube channel, his TikTok page, and, most recently, to his hair care line.
You might feel compelled to chalk it up to synergy in the social media age, but Mondo’s products sell out *fast*. His WaveTech Foam went viral on TikTok almost immediately upon launching in July 2020 and has been so famously hard to keep in stock — #WaveTech has 7.1 million views on TikTok, FYI — that the stylist and social media icon released a dedicated line of WaveTech products on April 14. Simply put, Mondo makes products that work. Again, the tags don’t lie. #XMondoHair currently has 43.6 million views on TikTok. That number keeps growing because fans keep flocking to social media to share their hair experiments with Mondo. They use his products, his techniques, and his hashtags. It’s why he’s been referred to as TikTok’s King of Hair. Mondo has built himself a unique online empire. And he’s only 27 years old.
His role as social media hairstyling royalty wasn’t totally unexpected. As a kid, he was interested in everything creative: He directed his friends in skits, designed clothes and jewelry, and did hair and makeup. He spent time in his dad’s salon, learning techniques and finding himself drawn to color and creativity. “It's kind of all come full circle,” he tells me. “I use everything I learned as a kid in my career now.”
Ahead, Mondo reflects on his path from creative kid to Capital-C “Content Creator,” and why he’s *truly* doing it for the fans.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Elite Daily: I read that you started a YouTube channel when you were 12 that did not take off and we'll never see that content.
Brad Mondo: I don't know if the exact age was 12. I don't know when YouTube exactly started, but I was pretty much there when people started posting, so whatever year that was, we'll go with that. I was very young. I was at least 14.
ED: What did it take for you to really get your channel off the ground? Where were you in your life when you were like, “This is it, I'm going to make it happen”?
BM: I had been posting very random videos, very much the exact videos you would expect from an adolescent child posting on YouTube. At the time, you could reply to a video directly underneath [it], so I was doing a lot of that. It was a very weird time on YouTube.
I was probably, like, 21 when I started really posting again. I was like, “Let me try one more thing and go back to hair-focused content,” and I posted this reaction video that ended up blowing up overnight. Originally, it wasn't even called “Hairdresser Reacts,” it was just me watching this video of this girl burning her hair off, but it blew up and then I was like, “All right, this is my new job.”
ED: Your “Hairdresser Reacts” videos really got me through a big chunk of lockdown, so I appreciate them.
BM: I love that.
ED: Career landmarks. Do you have any moments that stand out to you from the course of your career?
BM: Probably when I hit a million subscribers. [Editor’s Note: As of press time, Mondo has over 17 million followers across all social channels and over a billion views on YouTube.] That was a really big deal to me. I had always dreamed of that moment, and then when it happened, I was like, “OK, so I can really manifest my life.” Another big landmark was creating my own hair care line and launching that. And that was the next thing where I was like, “Wow, I can really do whatever I want to do in life.”
I think also the first meet and greet I ever did was so cool because a lot of my life obviously is on the internet, but when I get to meet people and actually hear things like what you just said to me, it's really cool. I think that all makes it worth it. Seeing the reactions of people who actually watch my content and consume it and knowing that I can make a difference in somebody else's life. That’s really monumental to me.
ED: Love that. How has your life changed since you started the hair care line and the color line?
BM: I never thought I would be in a leadership position like this. I always looked at myself as a creative, so it has been definitely a difficult journey, kind of learning how to run a company of this size, but it's been really exciting and fulfilling and I love learning new things. The majority of my life now is focused on being in the office and making sure all the employees are doing what they're supposed to do.
I've been very lucky to be able to sell items that also change people's outlook on themselves and that can bring confidence to so many people around the world even if I'm not there. So that's been really cool.
ED: What do you love most about your job?
BM: I think, right now, I love seeing the reactions from people when they use my products. There's nothing I love more than reading reviews and watching videos of other people using my things and talking about kind of how they've come across my videos and what they've learned from me, that is the most fulfilling and happiest part of everything I do. I literally just sit down and read reviews if I'm feeling sad. That's something that I've always wanted to achieve, bringing happiness to others and spreading the most positive energy through stuff I create. That makes it all worth it.
ED: So you started on YouTube, but you're also huge on TikTok. Do these two beauty communities feel different to you or do you kind of have the same vibe?
BM: I think there's a very similar vibe overall and a lot of the content I post on YouTube people also like on TikTok. I think TikTok, it's a bit more difficult in the sense that people really pick you apart. I think YouTube has a bit more of a community aspect to it, and I really feel like it's family there and people really know me well, whereas TikTok, it can be a little bit more surface level, quick content. You don't exactly get to know me super well. And maybe that's just because I'm not utilizing it in the way I should, but for now, I do like the aspect of community that YouTube provides. But I love the short-form content and I love being able to provide educational pieces in a matter of 30 seconds. But overall, I think people are looking for similar things. Does that make sense?
ED: That totally makes sense. If someone was just looking to find a beauty community to join online, somewhere to get involved and find people to connect with, would you say go to YouTube?
BM: Yeah, I think YouTube is great with that and people are so interactive in the comments. I feel closer to people on YouTube. And I think it's obviously because it's the longer-form content and you get to really sit down and spend 10, 15, 20 minutes watching this one person instead of watching them for 30 seconds and moving on to the next person, which I think there's a lot of value there.
ED: Have you ever tried a hair trend or treatment that you regretted?
BM: I mean, there are a lot of haircuts and hair colors I regret, but for trends… I think eggs, putting eggs on your hair. I've done that before. Maybe that's the one I regret because it's really gross. I don't eat eggs. I'm vegan. I did it for a video and my hair was crunchy and hard and it was disgusting.
ED: *Oh my God.*
BM: There you go.
ED: So we've seen wolf cuts, we've seen octopus haircuts. What animal do you think the next big haircut is going to be named after?
BM: Maybe like a zebra cut, where all the layers don't match.
ED: That could be cool.
BM: It's like just really haphazard, like crazy lined in your hair.
ED: I mean, we're getting stripes and again, people are doing out-there shags. I think you're on to something there.
ED: Is there one hair trend you do *not* recommend people try at home?
BM: I'm kind of torn on this one, but the wolf cut. I've done a tutorial on how to do it properly, but a lot of people don't do it properly. A lot of people bring all their hair up to a ponytail in the wrong position and then they just chop it all off and they end up with this really awful haircut. There are definitely a lot more steps you should take to get to a good end result. That one doesn't go great.
ED: Maybe just slow down a little bit.
BM: Yeah. Do a little at a time.
ED: Do you have any iron-clad hair care rules that you believe in?
BM: Yes. I definitely am a big believer in bond-building products. I use them. If you have any kind of damage or dryness in your hair, that's one thing you should really implement in your hair routine. It's great for anybody. Even if you have healthy hair and you really just want to lock in that health make sure it never goes away.
Also, hair masks. If you have long hair, hair past your shoulders, you really need to pack in that extra moisture every couple of weeks at least. And it really helps just save the ends of your hair. Other than that, definitely get haircuts. I think people tend to go two years without a haircut and it really shows. I think layering is really important to make sure that your hair has kind of a shape to it. That can really make a big difference. And heavy, long hair tends to weigh down the face as well, so I never really tend to gravitate toward that.
Make sure to protect your hair from heat damage and using hot tools, as well, as possible. Ponytails, people abuse those a lot and they’re always pulling their hair up way too tight. Ponytails can really cause a lot of breakage and they can be very dangerous to the hair.
ED: Rules to live by. Thank you. What are some of the wildest hair trends you've seen?
BM: I love the mullet shag trend. I saw so many people going from really long, just average-looking hair to short, super edgy mullets. I think that's so exciting and cool. And I'm so glad I love mullets. Anything shaggy, mullet-y, yes, give it to me. Anything with rocker vibes, I'm here for it.
ED: I love that. I have really, really curly hair, so I live in fear of mullets.
BM: Most people do. All my friends growing up were like, “Don't ever give me a mullet.” And I was like, “OK, fine. But they’re really cool, so you're missing out.” The e-girl stripes down the front of the hair were so big. I think it's fizzled out a little bit now, that was like a lockdown kind of style, but I still think it's really cool. And I think that's one of the trends we're going to look back on and be like, “Wow, can you believe we actually just fully took a chunk of hair and just colored the entire piece?” It's so early ‘00s, like skunk stripe highlights, which is also coming back. There's another one I've seen people do like black and white highlights, which is pretty wild. But I also love that too.
ED: Speaking of the aughts, can you do a little bit of trend forecasting? In addition to the black and white chunky highlights, what's going to be the next big?
BM: I think we're still seeing shags become bigger and bigger. I think we now have the addition of curtain bangs with the shag. I think we're going to see a front bang coming back into style, along with the shag. So a lot of layering front bangs, bangs of all shapes and sizes, curly bangs. I see a lot more red copper-colored hair and even kind of that, “I just bleached my hair” color, the kind of yellows and soft oranges, like Kendall Jenner did where it looks like she just bleached her hair and then didn't tone it.
ED: That kind of buttery color.
BM: Yes, that’s interesting. I think Billie Eilish kind of did that too because she had this more like yellowy blonde. So it's like a lot of warm colors, whether it be red, yellow, or orange, anything like that, I see being really trendy. For highlighting, I see blonde becoming chunkier. I see it being more bold and not as lived in as it was in the past years. I think we're going more towards more is more when it comes to highlights. And more of it starting from the root instead of it being kind of ombre style or voyage, I think we're going to go back to that really intense, bright hair.
ED: That Y2K hair, it's all coming back.
ED: What would you say to somebody who wants to drastically change their hair, who wants to just do something totally different than they've ever, ever done before?
BM: I would, first of all, say, “Live your extra life!” You should absolutely do it. I love a hair change. I think if you want to do a fashion color, blue or purple or something like that, stick with semi-permanent colors and maybe don't pre-lighten your hair. Just test the waters. If you want to make sure you're not going to make a mistake at all, do a lot of testing first.
Same with haircuts. Maybe if you want full-on front bangs, do a side fringe first, then go shorter and go shorter. You can always make your layers shorter or you can make your hair shorter, but you can't go back so kind of taking baby steps is what I recommend. But at the same time, if you're anything like me, you're just going to want to do it all at once, which is also really fun.
ED: That’s a vibe.
BM: That's if you want to be cautious. Otherwise, just go for it. And just remember that hair grows back, it's not that big of a deal, or you can get a wig. It'll be fine.