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Daniel Moon
courtesy of Instagram/@majormoonn

Hair colourist Daniel Moon on his magical ability to transform people

TextAlex Peters

The self-described hair shaman has worked his magic on everyone from Kanye West to Kristen Stewart

From digital artists to photographers, body sculptors and hair stylists to make-up and nail artists, in our Spotlight series, we profile the creatives tearing up the rulebook in their respective industries.

“One day I woke up and I saw everything in a different light,” says California-raised hair colourist Daniel Moon, of his journey into hairdressing. “I was attracted to colour and became obsessed with creating this new freeform that helped me disconnect from work and turned me into an artist.” Coming from a background in the Marines, Moon was searching for his next move when a friend introduced him to hairdressing and he found it offered him the freedom and chance for creative expression that he was craving after the disciplined and strict environment he had come from. He became hooked on the experience of transforming others – as well as himself. “Now, it’s evolved into being like a hair shaman,” he says. “Walking down new paths of transformation with people.” 

For the self-described “colour genie,” every head is a canvas on which to let loose his creativity. From geometric patterns and abstract designs on buzzcuts to electric neon hues, Moon has created a technicoloured world around himself and his rainbow, graffiti-inspired styles have earned him fans including Erykah Badu, Kanye West, Kristen Stewart and Madonna. Moon was even responsible for Kylie Jenner’s first experimentation with beauty – that 2014 teal dip dye that caused Kim so much wedding grief – thus, forever changing the beauty landscape around us. 

Here we caught up with the Moon to talk why we tie emotional upheaval to drastic hair decisions, his hair colour line Major Moonshine, and his upcoming #FindYourCanvas workshop in LA.  

Tell us a bit about yourself and where you grew up.

Daniel Moon: My experience in the industry was my new childhood. I don’t remember when I was a kid, my memories begin when I started doing hair. This industry has taught me to adapt and evolve and overcome.

Growing up, what informed your understanding of beauty and identity and the way you presented yourself visually?

Daniel Moon: Ethan Hawke was a big influence back then – Reality Bites had a big impact on me. I grew up listening to Morrissey like every Latino boy at that age, dressing like a vintage rebel greaser in blue jeans, vintage shirts, and Dr Martens. I listened to Jim Morrisson too and was influenced by all these icons. As for designers, Vivienne Westwood and Marc Jacobs were the first designers I saw communicate with the culture, and Jean Paul Gaultier’s work on The Fifth Element also had a big impact on me.

Before you started doing hair, you were in the Marines. Can you tell us a bit about that transition and how it came about?

Daniel Moon: While exiting the Marines, I started to think ahead and I had a friend of mine who was hairdressing at a high level. She introduced me to the owner of her salon who had been an Army Ranger. Meeting him gave me a precedent for creativity after being in such a strict environment. I was hooked on the ability to transform people –- starting with myself. I was enrolled in hair school a few days later, still wearing my Marine Corps haircut.  I’m super thankful for my time in the Marines because it taught me a lot about discipline and endurance- which is definitely necessary in a busy salon. 

Why are you a hairstylist? 

Daniel Moon: The reason why I’m a hairstylist now isn’t the same reason why I became a hairstylist. In the beginning, I was interested in the freedom that as a hairstylist there were no rules, there was no uniform and I could be a part of people’s lives that I normally wouldn’t be a part of, like Quantum Leap style. 

One day I woke up and I saw everything in a different light. I was attracted to colour and became obsessed with creating this new freeform that helped me disconnect from work and turned me into an artist. Now, it’s evolved into being like a hair shaman, walking down new paths of transformation with people.

Tell us a bit about your creative process. From initial idea to final image.

Daniel Moon: It’s very much so based on intuition, it’s conceptual. I identify how much change the person is interested in and then interpret a colour from there. A simple slight change of tone can completely take years off of someone’s life – it doesn’t necessarily have to be a rainbow every time.

Is beauty something you try to capture in your work or something that you reject? What is your relationship to ‘“beauty’”?

Daniel Moon: Beauty is something that I embrace. What I make is my interpretation of what is beautiful.

How would you describe your aesthetic? Why do you think you are so drawn to colour?

Daniel Moon: I would describe my aesthetic as ‘“emotional and fluid’” – shapeshifting as I please. I’m drawn to colour because it feels good and it lights people up. Colours to me are like words and pieces I create are like poems.

Would you ever advise a client against certain colours if you think it won’t suit them?

Daniel Moon: Yes. Some people are meant to be brunettes.

We often tie emotional upheaval in our lives to drastic hair decisions. Why do you think we have such an emotional relationship with our hair?

Daniel Moon: The same reason we grow up not being allowed to colour our hair whenever we like – it’s a form of control or loss of control, that can be utiliszed at any time of your life, through happiness or hardship. It’s only when you’re at a state of despair that you let go completely because you’re so desperate for a new feeling, but if you can make that same decision with the same kind of freedom you can be ahead of the game so change doesn’t have to come from darkness. This is what turns me on.

What should a hairstyle bring to a look or fashion image?

Daniel Moon: Sometimes hair should be nothing and other times hair is a focal point. I don’t believe there’s only one voice when it comes to hair and hair colour. Hair is a language. And you can speak multiple languages depending on who you’re communicating with.

You founded your own line of products, Major Moonshine, five years ago. What did you think was missing in the industry that you wanted to address?

Daniel Moon: When I invented Major Moonshine glitter gel, there were no products that could really give the experience of hair colour without a larger commitment through bleach and hair dye. I’ve seen firsthand how new hair can change someone’s outlook on themselves – and I wanted everyone to feel that positivity. That’s where the Moonshine came in. It’s a hair glitter product that gives incredible colour payoff so that you can experience a new hair colour as much as you’d like. As soon as you have it on –- everyone wants to try it, and it’s infectious to become someone new! 

It’s really amazing to have invented a product that has that type of reception – especially in a world where people can be a little nervous to talk to each other as interaction moves to be so digitally focused. Connecting people through self-expression is one of the most rewarding aspects of my career. 

What is your dream project to work on?

Daniel Moon: Commes des Garçcon – I’d love to continue working more runway as a colourist. I love Rei Kawakubo’s vision. As for people, BTS, Yves Tumor, Shia LaBeouf, David Lynch, Isamaya Ffrench, and Lil Miquela.

How do you think the industry has evolved since you first started out?

Daniel Moon: The industry feels like it’s redefining itself at the moment. Independent hair stylists and salons are educating themselves, going on tours across the world, and doing hair in more places than their home. Hairstylists are understanding their client base and creating products that help connect with them.

How do you think our understanding of beauty has shifted with the evolution of technology?

Daniel Moon: I think that because we’re being exposed to so much, it makes us seek out what beauty means to us as individuals. Beauty has evolved from a typical standard to appreciating beauty in everyone not despite their differences, but because of them. Technology has helped broaden the spectrum of beauty by exposing individual stories that then change the perspective of what we think is beautiful.

Why did you want to be involved in #FindYourCanvas?

Daniel Moon: Bombay Sapphire’s #FindYourCanvas initiative is all about reawakening our inner creativity by encouraging individuals to discover what they’re inspired by. I’ve always viewed hair as a blank canvas, and I love the idea of showcasing how creativity transcends far beyond the traditional art world. The artistry of hair colour is something that I’ve been advocating for years and it’s amazing to see how the world is catching on to how powerful this medium is. 

I’m super excited to host a Canvas Lab Workshop at The Other Art Fair Los Angeles alongside some other inspiring visionaries, Mimi Choi and James Bland. I’ll be leading a class on the transformative power of hair colour, and I can’t wait to open people’s eyes as to how colour can play a role in people’s psyche and personal aesthetics. Guests will be able to test out different shades from my Major Moonshine glitter gel line, including a custom Bombay Sapphire Blue, that I’m really excited to debut. I can’t wait for everyone to feel the good vibes that come from embracing this form of self-expression. 

What advice would you give to young artists hoping to get into the industry?

Daniel Moon: If you’re gonna get into hair, dive in. Find out what you’re passionate about and follow what you’re attracted to.

What is the future of beauty?

Daniel Moon: The future of beauty is more tailored, loud, quiet, voluptuous, blunt, rainbow, redhead – anything you want. 

Who would you like to shine a spotlight on next?

Daniel Moon: Shine a light on the team: Kayla Caysey and Bex Turner. Both incredible stylists who work at my salon.

Join Daniel Moon at his workshop The Transformative Power of Hair Color on September 9 in Santa Monica, CA.

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