Whether he’s on set or in the salon, Luis Pacheco takes a mindful yet scientific approach to his craft.
From his Toronto salon, Medulla & Co., to the editorial pages of consumer fashion and beauty magazines like Elle Canada, Luis Pacheco has forged a colourful path in the beauty industry. Taking a personalized, if not unexpected, approach to colour—one that incorporates elements of mindfulness—Pacheco continues to push natural beauty concepts. “About two years ago I thought I would quit,” says Pacheco. “Then I realized that my work isn’t just about making people look beautiful but rather feel beautiful. I developed this new responsibility for what I do.” We spoke with the Canadian colourist to find out more about his hair colour philosophy and how the beauty industry has morphed in 20 years.
Salon Magazine: What is your philosophy as both a hairstylist and a colourist?
Luis Pacheco: I’ve been doing colour for over 20 years, and the approach I take is a very natural one. For me, it’s about enhancing someone’s personal best. I like more of the effortless colour. I’m more into hair painting, balayage and warmer tones of sun-kissed hair.
SM: What’s your secret to achieving award-winning colour?
LP: I always like to look at pictures and may ask clients to bring a photograph of their dream colour or what they looked like when they were young. Once you get older, your hair colour tends to darken and lacks lustre. The other thing I’ve been doing is a kind of mindful meditation when clients don’t know what to do. With their eyes closed I’ll ask what is around them, what they are wearing, the colour of their hair and use this as a starting point. I’ve never followed patterns, even with clients I’ve had for a while. The client always comes back with a different story, and there is a dialogue you have with their hair.
SM: How is your work as a colourist different now than it was when you started?
LP: Colours are now about creating digital tones and having this ability to mix and match these artificial tones in a beautiful and natural way. We live in a world where we are more accustomed to being comfortable. Hair colour is a feeling, and it affects how you feel. As a colourist now, it’s important to adapt to a new approach that younger artists may be taking.
SM: What is the difference in terms of innovation and technology?
LP: The tools available are so much more advanced. I feel, creatively, we are in a digital age. Everything is backlit, the look is filtered and the vibrancy—even with natural, warmer tones—has a brightness that wasn’t there before. Clients are also more knowledgeable about what is happening with their hair chemically. If anything, hairstylists today know more about their trade than ever before.
SM: Where should other colourists begin if they’re planning a career path like yours?
LP: Don’t plan for anything and don’t have any expectations. Be open to different ways of doing things. Ask questions, turn to social media and try something that you have never done. The minute you stop making mistakes is the minute you stop learning.
SM: How do you keep a fresh approach artistically?
LP: Every day I feel like I’m learning, just like anyone else. You pick up a new way of doing things or a new technique. This is the part where you need to practise your new idea, and that allows you to find an exciting new climb. When it becomes mundane, that’s also the chance to practice your skill. It may not be new anymore, but this is your chance to be great at it!