How Your Stylist Enhances Your Sense of Self
I honestly believe a good haircut is one of the keys to mental health. That’s why I wanted to talk to Brad Taylor, my articulate hair stylist at Pyara Spa & Salon .
Martha Henry: Do many of your clients come in with a photo of a celebrity and ask for that hairstyle?
Brad Taylor: Yes, all the time.
Do you get the feeling that they want the celebrity’s lifestyle as well as their hair?
Yes, they look at this picture and say, oh, their hair is so beautiful, but what they really mean is that the celebrity is so beautiful and they think that once they have this hair style or cut or color or whatever, they’ll look like that celebrity. A lot of people think that if they have Kim Kardashian’s hair, all of a sudden they’re going to be this socialite. A trick that we do is cover the person’s face and ask them if they still like the haircut. A lot of people’s answers change.
Who’s popular right now? Who do people want to be?
Especially when it comes to hair color, Jennifer Aniston is huge. She’s still at the top of the game when it comes to color. Definitely the Kardashians, not so much around here in Boston, but in other parts of the United States. It’s not always TV and movie and music celebrities. Instagram and social media have taken over. There are a lot of people who are famous on Instagram, whether you know their name or not. You just follow them. It’s a quick, simple, one click. I’m guilty of it, too. All my friends are on there, but also those beautiful people are on there, too.
If you dramatically change a person’s hair, can you sense an immediate change in their demeanor?
Absolutely. And people will comment on that sometimes. They’ll say, Oh my gosh, I feel so different. I feel so good! You can see it in their movements and in the way they walk. It’s funny because I was a dog groomer before I was a hair stylist and I even noticed that in dogs. Dogs would prance out of the salon. I guess it’s the way we treat them. People are like, Oh my god, you look so cute!
How long do you think that salon boost lasts?
It’s hard to say because I don’t follow people home, but I know for myself, when I get my hair done, the last thing I want to do is go home. People say that to me all the time when I finish blow-drying their hair. I wish I had somewhere to go. Why do I have to go home? When you’re in the pubic eye, you still feel that boost. When you go home by yourself, it’s like, well nobody’s looking at me, so what’s the point?
How much can a haircut change the way a person views him or herself?
The interesting thing about this industry is that there’s a lot more to it than, oh, I’m just going to cut your hair and to make it look healthy and good. It is an art. Your face shape completely changes when you get a haircut. So if I was to cut a bob up to your chin, it will make your chin look wider. If I was to keep it long, it would make your face look longer. Your eyes might look bigger with straight across bangs. It’s all these little details that really can change the way you look.
In the year that I’ve been your client, you’ve had a number of different hairstyles. What prompts you to make a change?
I get bored easily. I’m surrounded by all these talented people and constantly looking for inspiration, not only for myself, but for my clients. All of us are always searching on Instagram or YouTube videos—all kinds of stuff. A lot of times I see something and it’s so easy for me to just do it. It’s just like—why not?
I think my clients like it because it helps invoke change in them as well. They say that one of the reasons a guest will leave a hair stylist, even after 20 years, is because they never give them the option to change their look. They never ask. It’s hard to ask for change unless somebody brings it to you.
You’ve been blonde and not. Do blondes have more fun?
Yes, they do. I don’t know what it is, but they definitely do.
Do people usually cut their hair right before they’re going to make a big change or right after they’ve made it?
Right after. Breakups are one of the biggest things. Pixies are huge for breakups.
Do you ever try to talk someone out of making a dramatic change?
I do it all the time, mostly because I feel like they’re not ready. We have to learn to read people and their emotions and the way they’re speaking about things. So if someone comes and says, I want a pixie, no thoughts, then absolutely, I’m totally gung-ho for it. But if someone comes in and says, I don’t know—I think I might want to do a bob, well they already said think, so I’m like, we’ll save it. I’m totally 100 percent about doing it, but maybe we’ll push it to the next time. It’s not because I don’t want to do it or because I don’t think they’ll look good in it, it’s because I don’t feel like they’re ready.
A client may come to you with a very clear picture in her own mind of how she wants her hair to look. Your job is to understand that picture and then to make it a reality. Which is more difficult, understanding the picture or cutting the hair?
Understanding, for sure. There are a lot of stylists out there who are—skillwise—incredible. They’ve been doing this for many, many years. Their execution is on-point, but if you haven’t had a proper consultation with somebody or don’t fully understand what that person wants, it doesn’t matter how good the haircut is. If it’s not what the person wants, that’s going to make or break the experience.
A lot of people like to talk in code. Or someone doesn’t exactly know what they want, but they think they do. It’s our job to decipher that. We have to ask all the right questions. There’s a laundry list of things you can ask to try to work your way into that final answer, but it’s a lot of work. Once you get that, the actual execution isn’t that hard.
How much of your job is being an artist and how much of it is being a psychologist?
I would say 50/50.
If you have one bit of advice to people who are talking to a stylist, what would it be?
To tell the truth. Open up a little bit and trust us. I’m pretty intuitive and I can tell when people are—not lying—but giving me a little BS. Even if it’s something as simple as, What kind of shampoo are you using at home? Oh, I’m using Aveda. No, you’re using Pantene Pro-V; I know you are. It’s stuff like that. I want to know if you’re using good stuff because if the reason that your hair might be brittle is because you’re using crappy shampoo, how am I going to help you if you say you’re using good stuff? I don’t know what to do at that point other than cut it off. It’s just stuff like that—absolutely telling the truth.