One of the biggest personalities in the beauty industry, Guy Tang is a self-proclaimed “hair activist” known for creating gorgeous, often-multi coloured hair designs that have earned him a faithful following of over 2.2 million followers on Instagram.
For the uninitiated, a quick update on Tang; born and raised in Oklahoma, he found his passion for hair and moved to Los Angeles at 27. Not one to follow trends, Tang stopped working only with shades of blonde and brunette, and began experimenting with vivid colours and incorporating the resulting mixes of hues, sometimes using up to 10 shades or more.
Outside of his YouTube tutorials (his channel also boasts a following of nearly two million), Tang’s Instagram account strives to build a community that creates “beauty out of madness.” Unlike top personalities in the industry that keep their cards close to their chest, Tang is intent on sharing the process behind his magic. He has been traveling the world to host workshop classes and seminars in order to teach hair stylists how to achieve the looks he shares on his social-media platforms.
Making his amazing creations more accessible to #HairBesties around the world, Tang launched his own professional hair-colour line called #mydentity last year – it allows salons around the word to re-create his signature looks. With 52 shades offered in permanent, demi-permanent and direct dye, the collection was made to inspire other stylists like himself.
In his pit stop through Hong Kong, as part of the promotion to his #mydentity line, Tang answered our questions about hair care and his own personal style.
There are a large number of beauty personalities on social media. What do you think set you apart from the others and made you unique in the industry?
Purpose and substance – without it people will just take things and forget about you.
In some of your interviews, you mentioned how tough it was in the beginning when you first left Oklahoma. What would you say was the turning point of your career in California?
When I moved out to California, there was more diversity of hair colour, texture and styles, unlike back in Oklahoma which is more conservative. I started to be more creative with my looks and most of my new clients referred their friends and family to me. Clients are walking advertisements for a hairstylist.
Have you ever flat-out rejected a client’s idea?
I do a very thorough consultation with all of my clients. I usually ask them to bring inspiration pictures on what colour or style they like and I give them my professional guidance. I always tell them what’s best for their hair and what will suit them. I encourage them to bring inspirational pictures. Then I show them if that’s achievable with their current hair condition. Sometimes they think they want a particular colour but when I show them what goes well with their skin complexion they can see visually what looks better.
What is the most rewarding part of the job?
Meeting a lot of #HairBesties around the world and sharing stories.
Where did #HairBesties come from?
I call my online and offline community #HairBesties. It’s a group of passionate, driven, hair lovers. We bounce back and forth positive ideas and inspire each other to grow. We share tips, tricks and help each other. It’s an inclusive rather than exclusive community.
Do you have any preferred technique or a signature hair colour?
Most people recognize me for my ombré, balayage looks and I created salon reality techniques as seen on my YouTube videos. Then later on, most people fell in love with my gorgeous multi-hair colours – they call it unicorn, rainbow, mermaid. After that it was the neons, then metallics and now #mydentity colours like Rose Gold, Dusty Lavender and Silver Smoke. Next is Super Power!
What is the maintenance for the visuals you create?
At-home maintenance is key. I tell them to wash less after colouring (they should wash it only after two days). If they can wash it less than three times a week the better. Use dry shampoo in-between washing, use colour-safe, sulphate-free shampoo and conditioner, and wash with cold water, not warm. When using hot tools or dryer, use the lowest temperature setting. Pastel and very light colours fades faster than more vibrant, rich colours. Tone-on-tone colours such as brown/caramel might not be too obvious when it fades but it does fade over time.
What commonly leads to what you call a “paranormal hairtivity”?
Some clients try to play with their own hair colour or bleach it themselves and then come to a hairstylist to fix it – then it becomes a “paranormal hairtivity”! Colouring and bleaching hair has science and rationale which take practice and education. An over-the-counter box-colour won’t give you the same effect.
In an ideal world, what should be someone’s perfect hair routine? Is there such a thing?
I wouldn’t say there’s a perfect hair routine because everyone’s hair is different and we all have different needs. Of course, textured hair will have a different need over fine/straight hair. In an ideal world, individualised personal products and prescription would be the best.
A hair trend you wish never existed?
Hair feathers – harmful for the birds and environment!
If someone is considering a complete hair makeover, how do you think they should prepare?
Hair is an integral part of how we look at ourselves since we see and feel it every day. Some people, after a major event in their lives (breakup, divorce or new partner), tend to want a dramatic change in their lives – hair is the most accessible, modifiable, impactful way to visually reflect that. I always ask them if they are ready to make another “commitment” and it’s not just a fleeting idea. Hairstylists just don’t do hair, we can also be their therapists. We listen to their stories while clients are in our chair.
What would you say has been your biggest learning experience in the industry?
Sharing your knowledge, techniques, tips and tricks won’t diminish you as an artist but makes you learn more and gives you more creativity. That was lacking in our industry for the longest time.