You’re likely familiar with the 4,000-year-old Chinese practice of feng shui, popular among interior design professionals and enthusiasts. But celebrity stylist Billy Yamaguchi, who counts Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Charlize Theron and Lady Gaga among his famous clientele, has introduced feng shui to the beauty industry. When I heard about Yamaguchi and his feng shui haircuts, I knew I had to have one.
To begin my journey into wellness-inspired beauty, I visited Lake Austin Spa Resort on a sunny July day. I met Yamaguchi before my service to learn more about his approach to feng shui hair styling.
“Where you place your cutting or coloring technique makes a difference, just as it makes a difference where you put your furniture in feng shui,” he explained.
What makes Yamaguchi unique is that he strives to forge a spiritual connection with his clients, integrating the principles of feng shui into their personal beauty and lifestyle. By applying the science of feng shui to the art of styling hair, he’s able to create a customized ’do that will turn heads and imbue his clients with confidence.
Feng shui meets beauty
During Yamaguchi’s one-hour presentation, I filled out a brief questionnaire. It asked me to list one or two words that best describe my personality and lifestyle and to pick a color that matches each. I described my personality as bubbly and loyal and chose purple to reflect those qualities. For my lifestyle, I indicated that I’m a working mom who’s always in search of simplicity. I had a harder time finding a color to correspond to my lifestyle but settled on navy.
From there, Yamaguchi began decoding how the colors I’d chosen align with feng shui beauty. He explained that for each of his clients he evaluates how the five elements of feng shui — fire, earth, metal, water and wood — correspond to the colors that suit their personality and lifestyle.
Through this process, he was able to read my “energy” and curate a hairstyle for me that would help me make the best possible first impression.
“The Yamaguchi way is completely based on getting to know who you are on the inside and reflecting it on the outside,” he says.
Yamaguchi’s analysis of my answers to the questionnaire was intriguing. Navy corresponds to water in feng shui, and purple corresponds to fire. In my mind, the two are opposing forces, but Yamaguchi saw it differently.
“You chose fire, which means you’re open. You chose water, which means you’re a self-cultivator. This all tells me that I want to keep your look chic, professional with an edge,” he says.
Yamaguchi wrapped up his presentation with advice on makeup and clothing colors that would flatter my skin tone. He even gave me exercises to do — yoga and tai chi — and made nutrition recommendations — berries and antioxidant-rich foods — based on my feng shui consultation.
Not your typical haircut
After the consultation, I accompanied Yamaguchi to the salon at Lake Austin Spa Resort. As I wrapped my cape around me, I anxiously wondered what I was in store for. After all, we’re talking about my hair, my crown and glory.
Before he touched my hair, he asked what I liked about it. I told him I adore my natural strawberry-blond hair color and requested that he not change it. He respected my position but asked me to consider his idea for my feng shui haircut.
“If you want to hit a grand slam, it’s important you think about letting me use a semi-permanent color that will fade away over time. It doesn’t show any regrowth. It will look sexy, sophisticated and playful,” he persuaded, ultimately leaving the decision to me.
After giving me his best sales pitch, the open-minded fire element that burns in my personality got the better of me. I agreed to let him color my hair.
“I promise it will be a lighter coppery color. It’s going to look so pretty with your skin. I’m going to keep some of your natural color and then add some color,” he reassured.
Now that I’d swallowed my fear and taken a big leap, he turned his attention to the actual haircut. I told him I was amenable to losing about an inch of length, and he told me he’d cut some chic layers into my hair.
To begin, he asked me to stand behind the chair and started to cut my hair while it was dry. I’d had my hair dry-cut before, and it turned out to be disastrous. Yamaguchi explained that he needed me to stand so that I wouldn’t slouch, allowing him to ensure an even cut. He chose to cut my hair dry because he could “get a more accurate picture of how it would look when it was finished.”
After trimming an inch from my mane, I sat down. Yamaguchi used a layering technique no other stylist has used on my hair. He took each section of hair in one hand, held it out straight and then released some tension to form a gradual bend. He then cut each section twice at mid-length using his signature five-grooved scissors.
Yamaguchi’s assistant applied my color, and I anxiously waited while it processed. After having my hair rinsed, I began to relax. When I caught sight of my soaking-wet locks in the mirror, the color didn’t look too bright or dark.
Once my hair was dry, my fears dissipated. I had sleek-looking, copper-kissed strands that gave me the chic, subtly edgy style Yamaguchi had promised.
Embracing the new
I’m typically in and out of the salon in an hour, but this service took a little over two hours. I didn’t mind the extra time at all. I enjoyed getting to know Yamaguchi, who really takes an interest in his clients and advises them on all things wellness. We spoke about trying to achieve balance as working parents, how to manage stress, and finding your tribe.
My feng shui beauty session with Yamaguchi pushed me to try something new and embrace the unfamiliar. The entire experience was unique and refreshing. I enjoyed having a hairstylist take time to get to know me on the inside and then make recommendations to reflect some of my dominant personality traits on the outside.
So often when we step into a salon, we show the stylist a photo and ask that the haircut be replicated. Or we just stick with what we’ve always done to our hair, afraid to change it up.
Because Yamaguchi was confident he could deliver a next-level hairstyle I’d adore, I let him take the reins, and I’m so glad I did.
Author, Crystal Zuzek, before and after. Photos courtesy of Billy Yamaguchi.