Armed with tubes of bright hair dye and a creative vision, celebrity colorist Daniel Moon is probably the man behind some of your favorite celebrities’ funky locks. Years before he became a wizard of hair dying, Moon was stationed all across the globe as a U.S. Marine in his early 20s—an experience he said pushed him to work in a creative space. Upon his departure from the Marines, Moon went to beauty school, where he put his ideas to work, developing his painterly approach to coloring hair.
After traveling throughout Cuba and doing hair on the road, Moon landed a coveted position at the Andy Lecompte Salon in West Hollywood. There, he perfected his coloring skills and built up his portfolio. Then Moon opened Hair, his own salon in Downtown Los Angeles—a feat he thought he would never accomplish.
Since then, the colorist has worked with everyone from Kanye West to Kid Cudi to Madonna—he recently dyed West’s hair various shades of purple for his Sunday Service performance at Coachella.
Complex caught up with Moon at his salon, where he spoke about his background, developing his artistry, and what it was like working with Kanye to create signature styles.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Tell me about your childhood and how that influenced what you do today.
I think the innocence of color and the playfulness of how I grew up in my own imagination.
I know you also were on a wrestling team. Tell me about that experience and how that led you to coloring hair.
I first started experimenting with hair color when I was in high school. My junior year, I dived into bleach and hair color. I lightened my hair from dark black to light brown. When I was on my wrestling team, we went to another tournament and then everybody had the uniform. When it was time for us to go to the finals, I decided to get my whole team and tell them to come over to my girlfriend’s house, where I’m like, “Guys, I have this idea. We all have to have uniformed hair and we all have to be blond.” But at that time, I didn’t know much about it, so we all ended up orange.
What was the reaction from your teammates? Were they into it initially, or did it take time to convince them?
I think they were all into it. We were kind of like the Bad News Bears of the league. We were wearing our street clothes to tournaments. They were into having this uniform, this bleach, kind of like blond punk style. They were like, “Whatever it takes, Danny. You’ve got the vision.”
What’s your favorite color?
My favorite color changes. Right now my they are orange and yellow and lime green. On paper you’ve seen some really nice neons that haven’t been overused. They remind me of skateboard designs, some graphics from Gotcha! or the ’80s or something like that.
Tell me about how you connected with Kanye and started working with him.
I connected with Kanye through another friend of mine, Chris Appleton, who’s an amazing hair stylist. When it was time to bleach, I got the phone call: “Hey, Danny. Are you in town? Would you want to come over and do some bleaching?” I was like, "Yeah, that’d be great."
When working with him, are you kind of taking the lead, or does he know what he wants?
I would say that we go over colors. He knows what he wants. Colors are gone over, and I stick by that and do my interpretation of whatever we spoke about. I would say Kanye is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. Really inspiring.
What was it like working with Kid Cudi in 2015? Have you dyed his hair since?
I was introduced to Kid Cudi through another friend, and we talked about different patterns and what he was open to doing. I gave him a breakdown of what we can do, and then he was like, “OK, go ahead and do your thing.” I always ask people what their favorite colors are. I ask people what colors they don’t like, and then I’ll bring out a pallette [and] be like, “These are the colors that I’m thinking about. Then you can choose from those colors, and we can eliminate colors like that.”
You joined the U.S. Marines, but decided to leave to be a hairstylist. How did your family react?
I definitely know that my Marines were like, “What are you doing? You’re going into hair styling?” They’re like, “Are you OK?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’m totally fine. I'm OK. You’re not OK. You guys are staying in the military.” A lot of respect for the military. That was my choice to experiment with the complete opposite of that.
Tell me a bit more specifically about your coloring process.
My coloring process started from working at Andy Lecompte Salon in West Hollywood. It was right next to a gallery called M+B Gallery. They had painters, photographers, and I was starting my career. I was building up a new clientele and going to openings. The girl I was friends with, she became my muse, and she would come get colors every couple weeks. She was blond, so I ended up creating all the colors of the rainbow in her hair. Because she’s putting herself in an artistic environment, she’s working in the gallery where people come to see color. The way she would wear her hair, crazy and wild, people would comment. They’re like, “Oh, your hair looks like a painting.” Then her friends would take pictures and say, “Hey, Danny. Look at this picture.” I’m like, “Oh, wow.” This was when Instagram was first starting to happen. I started taking pictures, and I was inspired to be a part of this community.
Did that open you up to working with celebrities?
Because I was at that salon, and working there, and working in that atmosphere. It’s a luxury atmosphere. Being in that environment was almost like performance art in the beginning. I’d have one client there for, like, four hours or something, and I was learning, but while I was learning, there was a salon operating around me. I’m just working, and then the people around me are like, “Oh, hey, Danny’s the color guy. He’s been doing that for a little bit now.” I got the call to go to a celebrity’s house because I was the only one doing it at a high, luxury level.
Do you have a dream celeb or artist that you want to work with?
I would say like Rihanna. I’d love to color Travis Scott. He’s got great hair. I love Billie Eilish. I’d love to color Beyoncé, of course. It’s funny because I love just coloring and it’s such a cool experience that doesn’t necessarily have to be focused around celebrities because you’re creating this persona for people. They’re art pieces. Celebrities are already art pieces, and they’ve developed themselves. Being able to work with individuals and creating these personas for individuals is what I really take pride in. I love working with celebrities, but I love working with people. That, to me, coloring for the people, is where I like my position to be.