Emma Carter of Beam Beauty Salon


“People are my passion. I don’t try to help people be in style as much as try to help them find their own style.”

–Emma Carter, hairstylist and owner of Beam Beauty Salon

by Mimi Montgomery

photograph by Christer Berg

Emma Carter is a people person first, hair stylist second. The New Mexico native has coiffed celebrities like Heidi Klum, Martha Stewart, and Leonardo DiCaprio in locations as exotic as the Galápagos Islands and Costa Rica, but she’s happiest now in her own small Raleigh studio where she knows her clients well and can help them look and feel their best.

“I’m so much about the connection,” she says. “A lot of people call me their ‘Hairapist.’” While she loves makeup and hairstyling, she places a bigger emphasis on inner beauty. “I don’t want to encourage anybody to feel like they have to do anything other than be themselves.”

Carter’s career began as an assistant to the art director at Cosmopolitan in New York when she realized she was drawn to the hair and makeup aspect of the photo shoots. One of her friends at the time was the then-unknown makeup artist Bobbi Brown. Carter became her assistant to learn the tricks of the trade, and when Brown launched her cosmetics line, Carter joined the product development team, traveling around the country to Neiman Marcus stores to train Bobbi Brown artists.

When Brown’s agent began representing Carter, her career “really took off.” She was in St. Bart’s doing the makeup for a 10-day photo shoot when the hairstylist didn’t show up. The crew asked Carter to take over the models’ hair styling, and even though she didn’t have much experience, she was game. The results were great, and her hairstyling career took off, too.

Soon she was working with famous stylists like Frederic Fekkai, John Sahag, and Edward Tricomi and taking classes at Warren Tricomi Salon. Her clients included several A-list celebrities, and she traveled the world for publications and brands including Marie Claire, Brides, Glamour, various international Vogues, Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, and J. Crew.

After a few years, Carter realized she had met all her personal goals and was burned out on New York. Her parents grew up in Raleigh, and her grandmother still lived there. She gave her a call and said, “I want to come for Thanksgiving, and I’m not going to leave.” Raleigh’s been her home ever since.

At first, Carter owned a larger Raleigh salon, but now owns the small studio Beam Beauty and works as a stylist for local advertising shoots. She prefers the intimacy of a small setting versus the large customer volume of a salon. This message comes through in the name of her studio: “It speaks to: beam out from the inside, just beam yourself out in the world,” she says. “And that is your own brand of beauty, whatever you just kind of exude.”

715 N. Person St.; beambeautybrand.com