Parlor-Perfect With Celeb Hairstylist Jeff Chastain
Posted On Dec 15, 2015
Manhattan hairstylist Jeff Chastain is your mane man — talented, handsome, and armed with his own arsenal of Birchbox-backed premium hair products called Parlor by Jeff Chastain.
It’s hard not to like NYC hairstylist Jeff Chastain. First, he’s funny as heck. Second, well… He’s really nice looking. Third, the guy knows his way around a head of hair — and he’s got the products to prove it. Chastain has been in the hair-chop business for approximately 15 years. Knowing that there was an easier alternative to the litany of products that had been required to achieve really exceptional hairstyles, he’s been making his own hair products for the past few years. When the founders of Birchbox came in for their haircuts (yes, he’s the go-to stylist for many of the beauty world’s most discriminating beauty buffs) they realized he was really onto something. In 2015, he officially launched Parlor by Jeff Chastain (parlorbyjeffchastain.com) with Birchbox (birchbox.com), and these multi-purpose products, enriched with sweet almond extract, deliver in terms of healthy hair and va-va-voom effects. The Gap featured some of the line this summer, garnering a great response, and that has inspired him and the Birchbox team to look forward to new products, which will arrive to consumers in the coming year.
Here, we chat with Chastain as he moves his salon from Union Square to Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood.
NEW YOU: Jeff, you put a high premium on simplicity as you style… What did you feel was missing from the market before you launched Parlor by Jeff Chastain?
JEFF CHASTAIN: The concept that I’ve been trying to offer is: combining healthy hair with stylish hair. For years, I worked with Kerastase and used to carry it in my salon for treatments along with another line for styling hair. It’s pretty expensive to carry all that as an owner, not to mention for the consumer. A woman shouldn’t have to leave the salon spending $125 for a treatment that counteracts the alcohol in the styling products one uses. And so, I set about to make my own line to satisfy everything we aim to do.
NY: How did the formulating start?
JC: I just didn’t want to sell stuff that wasn’t good for the hair just because it looked cool. Say I’d want to use a sea salt spray to make the hair look beachy and “undone.” The salt would dry out the hair so I’d use a Kerastase mask to combat it. My first hero product was a moisturizing sea salt spray, combining the effects of a leave-in conditioner and a sea salt spray. It looks like it has a lot of texture and yet it’s still really soft.
NY: What are some of the product currently in the line?
JC: We have a shampoo, conditioner, curl cream, four other styling creams, two aerosol sprays… about ten products in total. And some kits that have come out as well.
NY: How does it feel to have an actual “eponymous” line?
JC: If you look at them, my name is really small… Initially, I didn’t want my name on it at all, but in talking with editors who are clients of mine, I learned that it’s important to have a human connection. With Birchbox, consumers can find videos to see how I’m using them. That way they can trust the product. So I settled on this name since I always called my salon a “parlor.” But yeah, my name’s staying really small.
NY: How did the Birchbox alliance come about, and how’s that been for you?
JC: The people at Birchbox are great… The women who started it [Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp] are friends of mine and have been before it launched. I met Hayley at her brother’s wedding, and we bonded as I was showing the bridal party how to put their hair up into informal updos. All of the Birchbox videos in their first year were shot in my salon. It’s funny… I had the penthouse in Union Square, with windows on all four sides, so the sound guy always heard the wind. We had to put him in the closet with towels over him.
NY: So, what’s next for Parlor by Jeff Chastain?
JC: We’re coming out with four to six new products by April, expanding on the shampoos and conditioners to play with texture and volume. This will be for people who want more oomph in the hair. We’re working on a different volumizer, and doing a serum down the road. We’ll also be expanding into salons and retail. That’ll be fun since it had been doing really well online — much better than what we ever thought it would.
NY: How does having this personal line of products amplify the experience for you as a stylist?
JC: As far as the hair service aspect of my job, having products that I designed myself lets me give clients a 100% tailored experience. They get the best of me because I have the best tools. Not a lot of hairdressers can give them that.
NY: You recently moved salons… How are the new digs?
JC: It’s all very good. We just moved on December 1, so right now it’s all about decorating and re-adjusting the lighting. It will soon be fully ready; we’re currently still testing the waters there.
NY: You’ve been at this for nearly 15 years… How did you get into the biz?
JC: When I was around 16 or 17, I worked in the theater department of my school — at home, in rural Washington State — as an elective art credit. I really liked the production side of plays and found myself doing hair and makeup for plays at the local community college. I remember working on the play The House of Yes, which is such a cool play. There’s the whole idea of this Jackie O.-obsessed character who’s always frantically brushing her hair… I started researching hair and pretty shortly after that found myself in school for it. When I got to New York, I originally wanted to do hair for stage, film, and TV… I worked at another salon for a while and eventually went out on my own with a little shop when I was 26 years old. I’m 33 now.
NY: What kind of a dynamic do you like to strike with your clients?
JC: I like people to open up and tell me everything about themselves. That’s what’s awesome about New York… so many different kinds of jobs, and in my line of work I’m constantly meeting successful people who do very different things. So I’m constantly asking people about their work. I’m always fascinated by what brought people to New York. With clients, I like to get secrets and dirt.