Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/WireImage

For as long as I can remember, I have looked in awe at celebrities and their ability to somehow… do it all. Yes, they’re lucky enough to have glam squads and assistants and publicists and all of that, but still — there are celebrities who do more in an hour than I do in a week, and for that, I endlessly applaud them. With New York Fashion Week coming to a close right as the MTV Video Music Awards and the Met Gala starts, I’m dying for more tips and tricks on how to bop around this city from place to place without worrying that all the hard work I put in on my hair was for naught. If there’s one person who knows about being busy, it’s Shay Mitchell. The actress/mom/entrepreneur/TRESemmé ambassador attended both the Altuzarra show at NYFW and then headed directly to the VMAs with two distinct, different hairstyles. Mitchell rocked a sleek, high ponytail at the show, only to loosen the style into a chic updo with loose tendrils framing her face for the awards show, all courtesy of TRESemmé’s Global Stylist Justine Marjan. Of course, this could be sorcery, or we could ask the source (wordplay intentional) how she gets it all done. Mitchell was kind enough to jump on the phone with me to explain her love for VMAs style, being adaptable, and how she uses hairspray in a very unexpected way.

What is your main inspiration for this year’s VMA look?

Mitchell: To be honest, it started with the dress. I had a fitting when I was in LA, and then the dress that I’m wearing tonight just caught my eye. It was something different than I’ve ever worn before. The material of it is really cool, really fun. I think that’s what you look for when you’re getting ready, especially for the VMAs. It’s such an iconic carpet, there have been so many incredible looks in the past years — I really just wanted to go with something that was fun and new, and then match my hair and makeup to go with it.

How did you and Justine come up with the look?

Mitchell: It always starts with me sending her photos. I just text her photos of the outfit so we can plan it. I always like to have a little bit of an idea, so I’m not coming into it blind. I sent her the looks that I was going to be wearing this weekend, and then she and I switched back and forth with sharing inspiration photos. That’s really how it came about. It was nice to be able to show up today and then have an idea of some of the hair looks that we were going to be doing.

What makes VMA looks different from other red carpets?

Mitchell: “Fun” just comes to mind when I think of the VMAs. I think that there have been so many iconic looks in the years before, that I feel like people have more confidence to try something new on this carpet over other carpets.

You’ve done a lot of back-to-back look changes — how do you do it all, plus being a mom and juggling both the physical changes but also the emotional ones?

Mitchell: Honestly, I think you have to enjoy it. I love coming to New York; I love getting to switch up my look, or my hair, to try new things, to wear different outfits. It’s different from what I’ve been so used to, especially for everybody in the past year. We’ve all been sweatpants, more or less. It’s nice to be able to come here, get dressed up, see people I haven’t seen in a long time and, like I said, get to change up my look for a red carpet, which is different than being on set. My hair goes through so many different changes during the week. From playing with [daughter] Atlas, where I just throw it up in a bun, to on set where I’m playing a character and she has her own set of looks, to then getting to come to New York and get red carpet ready, and be able to choose the hairstyles and look that I want — it’s really fun. It’s different from anything else.

How does TRESemmé help you with last-minute changes?

Mitchell: Having something that protects my hair from all the tools that are being used in it is definitely key. I would say, for myself, I love travel size of everything. I have a little Freeze Hold Hair Spray in a travel-size bottle. I really use it for quite a bit. I’ll always have a little, old toothbrush with me. I’ll spray it on the toothbrush and make sure that I get flyaways before a carpet. I’ve also been known to use it for my eyebrows. I’ll also spray it on a little mascara brush wand, an old one of course, and then use that to brush up my eyebrows and keep them in place as well. Those are little things that I do while I’m on the road going from the show to the carpet, you name it.

I think that the products do what they say and that’s what you want when you purchase anything, you know? When I use the hairspray, I know what’s going to hold my hair in place and I don’t have to worry about that. I know when I use the heat protection spray, it’s truly protecting my hair from all of the tools. I know when I use the serum, I’m not going to have to worry about my hair going frizzy. Having the belief that a brand will actually do what they say is number one.