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Vivid Brights Master Daniel Moon Shares Inspiration, Technique and How to Handle “High Risk” Hair Clients

Out of all the colorists we admire, we have a soft spot for Daniel aka Major Moon, who’s outside the box approach to color is closer to what we expect from a painter. With no regard for the traditional, Daniel Moon has the uncanny ability to unleash a person’s inner color. We chatted with the color expert on what’s inspiring him, his advice if you’re hesitant to dye your hair an unnatural shade, the best time to go neon, and why you should always photograph your work.  

Mane Addicts: Where do you draw inspiration for your color?

Daniel: I’m currently drawing color inspo from record album covers. Every decade has something to learn, but what’s not to be forgotten is the early 2000’s. Britney Spears’s “Britney” cover is vibrant with colors that would look tight in hair. 

MA: Do you use foils, freehand or a mix? Can you tell us more about your technique? 

Daniel: When it comes to bleaching, I freehand and brighten up pieces with a second application of foils. I have always freehanded for coloring. Gradients are smoother and you can see what colors look good next to each other. It’s good to feel the color when pressing it in the hair. I can tell if a custom color needs more pigment as soon as it touches the strand.

Knowing how the color fades helps you take your clients on a seamless color journey without compromising the hair. When coloring with rainbow colors, you want to think about the hair in 1 month, 2 months, 3 months. If you go purple the first time around, you’ve hit a color dead-end for the next 3 months. Pinks, corals, lavenders, pastels, all lead you to a place you can constantly change—my advice is to dive in and find your color path.

MA: How did you get your start as a colorist?

Daniel: Color was always interesting to me and I consider it, somewhat, my destiny. I went to cosmetology school after serving in the Marines. I assisted for 2 years and then joined the team at Andy Lecompte. Andy had just opened his shop, and I heard from a friend that all these great stylists were working there. This was before social media, so our networking really came from having strong friendships with other hairdressers and producing the best work. It was a great breeding ground for education because it was an open space and you could watch your favorite hairstylists create amazing looks—there was nothing but good hair coming out of the salon.

via Daniel Moon

Everything changed for me when I experimented with rainbow colors for the first time. At the time, the only vivid color lines out there were Manic Panic, and for professionals, Pravana, which had less than 10 colors with no pastels in their line. So, the palate was limited, and the colors bled if you didn’t rinse them properly. I had to develop all sorts of new techniques just to be able to create those first multitone pieces. I would wash strand-by-strand to not bleed the color—no one had ever seen rainbow hair until I did it this way and created this rinsing technique—because the colors bled before then. It was like picking up a pencil for the first time, there was a story that I had to write.

In 2018, I opened my salon HAIR Los Angeles. Our goal is to create well-rounded stylists. Our stylists can handle bleaching, vivids, naturals, creative looks, different textures and styles. We want to serve all people and all hair. Opening my own space wasn’t just about hair color, it was about the vibe of where I was doing the hair. The music that’s playing, the art that’s on the walls, the conversations and connections between clients in the space, all play a big role in the salon. We like to set up an environment where people enjoy talking to each other and can get away from their phones and work for a bit. We strongly believe in the specialness of salon culture. Clients make friends with other clients and even collaborate—we’ve seen the space become a meeting ground for a really special group of people in Los Angeles.

MA: Is there a color transformation that you’re most proud of?

Daniel: I love when hair color reinvents how people see a person. Zoe Kravitz did it best when she went from long platinum to a short platinum pixie. Collaborating with Nikki Nelms for the look was a game-changer, and one for the history books.

MA: What would you say to someone hesitant to try a vibrant color?

Daniel: Start with a pastel; it’s a subtle transformation that will leave you wanting more. Baby pink, peach, and coral always fade out nicely too. They also are a great way to introduce yourself to the positivity that comes with having a vibrant color. The world will see you differently and you will see yourself differently—there’s a fun opportunity in what you can do with that change.

Do you have any tips for keeping up the color?

Daniel: To maintain vibrant / pastel hair color I have my clients pop in for a refresh in between root touch-ups. It’s also really important to invest in good products and make sure the shampoo and conditioner that you’re using don’t take away the color faster than you’d like.

MA: Are there any clients you won’t see, like if hair is over bleached?

Daniel: I take on every client both as a challenge and to continue my education. I always call more high-risk clients in for a test strand to see what we can do. I’ve taken clients who are consistently box dying their hair dark to blonde, and even under those circumstances, there are still possibilities.

Don’t underestimate learning about new treatments and knowing diverse options to help clients. My favorite new treatment this year has been Virtue’s ColorKick, which has really restored my client’s hair and can be used in tandem with other treatments during the bleaching process. The more protection you can provide, the more your clients will trust your vision as a stylist.

MA: What color trends do you predict we’ll be seeing more of come summer? 

Daniel: Summertime equals neons and rainbows! You can go bright knowing you’re going to be at the beach or in a pool all summer. The brighter you go, the more you can shampoo your hair without worrying your color will fade out right away.  We usually end up switching up the color once our clients realize how easy this process is after the fade out.

MA: What are you working on RN?

Daniel: Because photography is so associated with hair now, I’ve really enjoyed picking up the camera and having that be part of my story. I shoot my work on film and take iPhone photos as well, and recently put out a zine of my work. Some of my early work was lost on old iPhones and I wanted to have a tactile way to hold on to the memory of my work.

Stylists are artists whose art leaves our studio as soon as it’s finished—we don’t often get to hold onto the beauty of what we’ve created. I look at it as my family photos—and I think the photos will be like that for me in the future—remembering a special time in starting my own salon.

It has been a really interesting experience to layout the last two years of my work. On Instagram, you’re posting as the work develops, but to go through and see the patterns and connections between different color stories and styles is really satisfying. I am definitely planning to make more books like this in the future; I think it’s important to have albums of your styles—it’s my recreation of the 80’s hair books that people grew up on.

Need more colorspo? THESE are our favorite celeb color trends.

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