TARA SMITH IS A TOP HAIRSTYLIST TO THE STARS AND THE FOUNDER AND CREATOR OF THE TARA SMITH HAIRCARE LINE. IN THIS EPISODE, TARA JOINS DANI BEHR AND TARA JOSEPH AS SHE SHARES SOME OF HER EXPERIENCES WORKING WITH THE STARS IN LA AND AROUND THE WORLD. TARA TALKS ABOUT WORKING WITH PATRICIA ARQUETTE AND HAVING THE OPPORTUNITY OF BEING A HUMANITARIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST. GET TO KNOW TARA’S LIFE AFTER MOVING TO LA, CREATING WIGS, AND HOW SHE ENJOYS THE CITY OF ANGELS. LASTLY, FIND OUT MORE ABOUT TARA’S HAIR CARE LINE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF USING HEALTHY, CLEAN PRODUCTS FOR YOUR SKIN AND HAIR.
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From Wigs To Hair Care with Tara Smith
Interview With Tara Smith, Hairstylist To The Stars
Our guest is a female entrepreneur who encaptures what being an entrepreneur is all about. As a top hairstylist to the stars and a leading haircare range to her name, please welcome to the show, the fantastic, Tara Smith.
We’re starting off with our La La Landed series, a new LA quickfire round of questions because the series is all about LA and LA stories and the people that make the wonderful fabric that is Los Angeles, the City of Angels. Are you ready?
Are you from LA?
I’m not from LA, but I am from somewhere that does begin with an L.
Where are you from, Tara Smith?
I’m originally from Leicester in England.
When did you first come to LA?
I first came to Los Angeles when I was about 21 and then I came back when I was 24 with an actress who brought me there. She was a fabulous lady called Sherilyn Fenn. She’s done other wonderful work, Twin Peaks. I did a different film with her in the UK. I used to do wigs and normal hair and she brought me to Los Angeles.
How often throughout the year are you in LA?
LA is my other home and it has been my home. Because I don’t do hair all the time and I do my humanitarian charitable work and different things, I’m not there all the time. Los Angeles is definitely home to me.
What are your three favorite things about LA?
I love that outdoor life. I spend time down on the West side. I love having the opportunity to be near the ocean. Also, having the versatility. You can be on the beach, but you can go on great hikes and stuff like that. I do enjoy the outdoor life.What you put on your body is as important as what you put in your body. Click To Tweet
Favorite secret spot?
It could be a variety. That could be a restaurant or it could be an outdoor pursuit.
Last one on the LA quickfire round, the biggest misconception about Los Angeles?
The misconception is that people from the outside world think that Los Angeles is just Hollywood. It’s so much more than that. It is diverse with different cities in one big city. The only pain in the ass to me is the driving. I’m down more on Venice and Marina Del Rey, so I love the fact that you can just walk out. However, you have to suck it up and listen to a good podcast like this or listen to a good book or great music because you’re in the car a lot.
We’ve got quite a few episodes out there, Tara Smith. I don’t know if you’ve read any of them, but we have such an eclectic group of people come onto the show and it’s exciting. Everyone has something to do with LA. You’re here a lot, working with some of the top talents in the world as a leading hairstylist. You work regularly with the most incredible actress, I’m her biggest fan, Patricia Arquette. How long have you worked with Patricia? How did you become involved with her? What is it like working with someone who is an actress such a chameleon? She’s constantly changing how she looks, her hair and everything. Tell us about that experience.
I first met Patricia back in 2003. I did a film called Tiptoes. The director was a guy called Matthew Bright. It was with Matthew McConaughey, Kate Beckinsale and Gary Oldman. That was the first film in Los Angeles where I was running the hair department and it went union because they have unions over there. It was a way for me to get into the union. That’s how I met Patricia and she had cornrows. To be honest, it took me seven hours to do these cornrows and then the next time, I said to her, “If you go down on La Cienega, there’s a place called Oh! My Nappy Hair and it’s $10. They’ll do it in two hours.” She loved the honesty and the authenticity with me to do that. I didn’t work with her for years, but we had some mutual friends.
Also, the work that she’s done, she has an incredible nonprofit called GiveLove, which she asked me to join the board of which I actively joined. On the side of the life of being a humanitarian or a philanthropist and helping and volunteering, we were on the same agenda. For many years, I still do support another nonprofit called Shine On Sierra Leone. Our paths crossed in that way. She did Medium and I did some press with her with that, but I didn’t want to do a TV show for me and where I was going with my career for seven years stuck on a TV show. A few years ago, she came to London and I don’t believe in coincidence. She was coming to London and our daughter’s at school here. I was here sadly because I had a loss. At that time, they were alive. This is why I’ve spent more time in the UK. I had lost my father and my stepfather, and Patricia was here.
I was back here because my stepfather had Alzheimer’s and we met for some drinks. She had finished Escape at Dannemora. She put 70 pounds in weight for the role. It’s unbelievable. There were some problems with the ins and outs with the wig. She was wearing a wig for that show. She then said, “You’re good with wigs, Tara.” I was like, “That’s what brought me to the States years ago.” The next thing she’s telling me she’s doing a project called The Act. She said, “I want you to do these wigs.” I told her like, “Wig making’s an art. I don’t make wigs anymore. I design them. I have a great wig person in Los Angeles with knots and everything.” The next thing is she’s like, “There’s this show in Savannah.” I’m like, “I don’t want to go to Savannah because both of my fathers at that time were sick.”
It all worked out. I also have an incredible agent in Los Angeles, so she worked out a great deal. I went to see Savannah, Georgia and not only did I design these three wigs for her character, but I did the show. I haven’t done a show since 2007, where I ran the Department for a Quentin Tarantino picture called Death Proof. I did these wigs and everybody was blown away with them because it looked like her normal hair. From that moment on, we had a real deep connection and respect for one another as women in what we’re doing in the world. She asked me to join her board of GiveLove.
In the past couple of years, she’s cleaned up at the Golden Globe and at the Emmys with a Tara Smith hairstyle on every occasion.
One thing that I admire about Patricia is she’s loyal and she won’t quiver. The agents, managers and publicists all have their people and agenda, which is totally fine. I get it. I have the utmost respect for her because there are other actresses, I love to work with, but they’re using that one for whatever reason. It’s been wonderful because when working on a TV show, which has been great and well received, because I have my hair care line, it’s more important that I do those awards. That’s when they go, “What does the hair look like? What are they using?” They don’t ask what did Patricia Arquette use for her character in the act.
I want to elaborate on your last answer about the wigs. How many leading actors and actresses in TV and film are wearing wigs? The average person who has no idea about the industry would be quite surprised to know that.
From my experience, at least 50% of people are wearing wigs. If they’re not wigs, they’re wearing some hairpiece in there. There are many tricks that can be done, it’s unbelievable. I remembered many years ago, I did a film called Beowulf. She doesn’t act anymore and she was a pop singer and actress called Lisa B. You might remember her. I cut all her hair off but because we went back to the eighteenth century, I didn’t use the hair on the top. It was like this fishing tackle net and her hair came through. All the long hair fell down the side. With hairdressers these days, and there are some fabulous ones, not all of them know how to do that real old school training. If you think as a musician, sometimes people who are classically trained gives them a good foundation. I’m a third-generation hairdresser and I do believe it is important for hairstylists to know how to do a pinko, a finger wave and things like that. Some of them don’t know those things and it’s important.LA is like a box of cereal. You take out the fruit and the nuts and you're left with a bunch of flakes. Click To Tweet
One of the things you touched on was your haircare line and I would love you to tell us some more about that. I know that Patricia has been supportive of that. She was on QVC with you and she’s helping with sales. Tell us about the product and how people can buy it, etc.
In 2008 or 2009, in the United Kingdom, I won Celebrity Hairdresser of the Year. From that was where I pivoted and started in the creation of the haircare line. The reason being is because I worked with Demi Moore for a few years, Marissa Tomei, Lucy Lou and a whole slew of great actors. They all wanted more natural products. However, I wasn’t the first person on the block with a natural product or a plant-based product. In 2020, everybody is plant-based. Years ago, I said, “All haircare lines and beauty lines should be vegan.” People don’t even know what that means in beauty. What does it mean? It means there are no animal byproducts in it.
However, if you have a product that’s got no animal byproducts in it, it still might have carcinogens. We’re not testing on animals, but you’ve still got harsh toxins in that are carcinogenic. It’s causing cancer and 1 in 3 people get cancer. The skin is the largest organ of the body and everybody is more concerned about what creams and oils they’re putting on the face. They tend to forget that every time they’re washing their hair, that stuff’s going down their face. That was where I was coming from. These actresses were saying, “I want a cleaner product.”
Those products in Whole Foods, for example, didn’t give me the deliverance and the performance that I needed when I was on a film set. When I work with Tarantino, he said to me, “If I see that that hair is not right, I will close the production down.” That’s a tall order. I know in my work and in the longevity that I’ve had with the actors, the whole point was this thing is performing. Patricia Arquette, Rosario and Kiefer Sutherland even invested in my brand. Hence, having the tagline tested on film, not on animals.
I went away and I took about a year off. I didn’t do any films that we’re being offered. I don’t do that now. I do more awards or if Patricia’s going to work, I’ll work with her. My main thing was to have a product that delivered and worked on one application. I went and found the original chemist of The Body Shop, which was the late Anita Roddick, who was an absolute pioneer in what she did then with products and what they stood for. I found her and we created the product line. Whoever gets their hands on the Tara Smith product is using a product that will perform on one application because if you are my artist in the chair, it’s got to work.
Otherwise, you’re not going to come back to me. I do care about the planet and what we’re putting on our bodies. It’s not that difficult to live like that. People have not been made aware. Maybe people reading this show would have no idea that 1 in 3 people get cancer and the skin is the largest organ on the body. I’ve always said, “What you put on your body is as important as what you put in your body.” People are caring about what food they’re eating or they want juices in the morning or whatever. Meanwhile, they’re putting a brand of shampoo on their head that’s full of these toxins.
How do we find your product? What’s it called and where can we buy it?
My website is TaraSmith.com and you can buy it from the website. It is in the stores of Bluemercury in the US. I can’t say what bricks and mortar stores are going because the ink hasn’t dried on the paper. With my haircare line, it’s like skincare for hair.
I’ve used it and it’s good.
You shampoo, condition and put in that base coat serum. Everybody puts in the base coat serum, whether they’ve got afro hair, straight hair or even if they shave their head that way. They would put it on. As an analogy, you would never clean your face and not put on moisturizer. That’s how I try to make that.
I love that you have expanded your career from being an artist focusing on hair, making wigs, Hollywood films and TV into philanthropy and product lines. You’re extremely inspirational and aspirational. LA, as we know, is such a hub of a mix of transient people coming in and out all the time. Some are coming, staying and never leaving like myself and Tara. Some are coming in and out and using it as a second home or a first home. There are a lot of UK artists that come and bring a different flavor. What do you think it is about being British that makes you stand out or you have your USP, unique selling point? Do you think that has an impact in any way?
I do. When I first came there as a hair artist, the skills that I learned in the UK were second to none in the thoroughness of it. I might come to LA and do a course for three months and say that I learned to make wigs. There are hairdressers over there that just work with wigs. I know the understanding of the making of them.
Would you say to somebody who wants to go into that line of work to maybe spend time researching a great place to be educated, whether it is to go to England for a year and do one of these amazing wig schools?
A thousand percent. Also, another thing to do is find a hairdresser. Vidal Sassoon is up in heaven, but he mentored me a little bit and mentored me in being able to give great advice and momentum. That’s one of my roles and responsibilities to human beings, the younger people below me, to share that wisdom. There’s room for everybody. I remember when I started and people might think, “How on earth did she get started?” That was complete perseverance and determination, and people putting the phone down and being like, “No, darling. It’s the wrong time.” Especially now, there are more people and whenever you have to have the resilience and believe in yourself. The moment that you’re feeling a little off, get up, move your body, realign yourself and go into a place of gratitude.The world is a beautiful place; just take a deep breath and keep it in the moment. Click To Tweet
Would you ever consider doing a Tara Smith wig school or setting up your school or even online? Has that ever been anything in the store in the pipelines?
Possibly. I’d rather have a platform or an online platform of mentorship more in mindfulness. I remember once I was late for work and this is a great tip that I’ll never forget from my agent. One time, it demanded thousands of dollars a day. When I knew I was earning thousands of dollars a day, I was at work half an hour earlier. I’m doing the editorial and being paid $150 a day. I’m nonchalantly walking in ten minutes late and whatever, and that’s not okay. My agent said to me, “I’m not telling you anymore how much you’re being paid because you should still go to work with the same ethic,” and that is important. If I’m cutting someone’s hair as a favor, I don’t do it with any less but with a whole heart into it than if I’m being paid for it.
Do you prefer working in LA or do you prefer working in London?
I don’t prefer either. I love people. London has a great vibrancy thing going on. There’s a bit more you see it as it is. In Los Angeles, I love it for it. There’s no negative. When I moved there, I was let down by a few people like, “I’m going to have dinner with you on Thursday but if something better happens.”
It’s always the way it is.
Everybody’s looking for the next best opportunity. Everybody’s here for something.
I don’t like that. Things have to change. Shirley MacLaine said that and I was like, “I thought I said that.” LA is like a box of cereal. You take out the fruit and the nuts and you’re left with a bunch of flakes.
That’s British to be on time. Punctuality is much of the British culture. It’s part of our entire identification. My Brazilian friends, who I love dearly, are always late for everything. I think it’s cultural.
The thing is in Los Angeles we know you’re going to have one-hour traffic or whatever. One of my spiritual gurus who kept me on track, I was late for him and he said to me, and I will never forget one day, “Do you think this is okay? If you were seeing a lawyer and paying them $500 an hour, you wouldn’t be late.” Why should I think to my friend or, I don’t have a spouse, but if I did, that it’s fine to be late? That’s not okay. We only have 24 hours.
Tara, if you could work on any celebrity’s hair, who would it be?
A favorite movie you’d wish you’d worked on, what would it have been as well?
One person I wish I worked on was Tina Turner. She’s simply the best. There are many great talents out there that are hard to go with who I would like to work with. I’d like to work with some new talent. I also like to work with talent that not many people know. It’s like, “Tara, can you come in and create the image for them?” I enjoy doing that part of it on the tipping point in that creation with the team. The name of the film which would come to mind would be something like Grease or Dirty Dancing. I wasn’t old enough then.
Tara, you’re so inspirational. For all the women out there and for all the artists out there who are trying to be the next big Tara Smith whether they’re a wig maker, a movie star, hairstylist or are just doing their own thing and their local hair salon, they’ve got a lot to learn. They should all go check out TaraSmith.com and check out your amazing product line. We’d love to have you back on again when you have the next big project or big superstars.
What you two are doing is fabulous and inspiring. I support you two dearly and to everybody reading, the world is a beautiful place. Take a deep breath and keep it in the moment. Keep it in the 24 hours and everything would work out.
Tara, when you want to talk further about your products and launching, let us know and we’d love to have you back on. Thank you to all of our fabulous La La Landed readers. Thanks again to the lovely, Tara Smith.
- Tara Smith
- Shine On Sierra Leone
About Tara Smith
Multi-award winning Hair Artiste and stylist of choice to the stars, Tara Smith, has laid her magical hands on the crowning glories of some of the biggest global celebrities and film stars ever to grace the red carpet, working with names like Demi Moore, Adrian Grenier, Natalie Imbruglia, Gerard Butler, Kiefer Sutherland, Nicolas Cage, Rosario Dawson and Kristen Davies, to name but a few.
Voted The Clothes Show Style Awards Celebrity Hairdresser of the Year in 2009, and enjoyed the honour of none other than megastar Demi Moore tweeting to her followers to “Vote for Tara”. Hair is in Tara’s DNA – she is third generation hairdresser, and grew up immersed in the business of making everyone look beautiful on the outside, and feel beautiful inside.
Tara’s enormous success has come from hard work, passion, and a firm belief that everyone, regardless of age, sex or ethnicity deserves a chance to experience truly gorgeous, healthy, head-turning skin and hair. Described by friends as “Giving”, “Inspirational” and “Passionate”, Tara is a force of nature, with a character that is utterly unique. Some say that if the essence of Tara could be bottled, the eternal quest for the perfect haircare range would be over. Well…challenge accepted!
Tara is not one to rest on her laurels, and where other stylists might be content to simply carry on tending superstar tresses, Tara has always had an eye for the next big adventure. She has always been deeply committed to using products that not only make hair & skin look and feel great, but that are as kind to the planet as they are to the heads they are used on. Tara’s quest to source the very best ethical hair products was not always easy, so it was inevitable that she would take matters into her own hands, and create her own line. As Founder and creator of the Tara Smith head-care brand, Tara has developed a range of award-winning natural, gluten-free, vegan-friendly head-care products, used and endorsed by her celebrity clients, whilst being within the reach of anyone who cares about their hair, head (and the planet!) Tara is a passionate advocate of ethical veganism, animal rights and living at one with the environment, and all her products reflect her beliefs. Tested on Film stars, not on Animals…
Tara is a remarkable woman. Her energy, her enthusiasm is infectious, and her drive is legendary; she imbues everything she does with genuine passion, not just for hair, however for respecting the planet, and championing the ethical treatment of animals. Warm, witty and wise, Tara is immensely popular in the industry, and she is proud to have a circle of friends who share her vision, her passion, and her lust for life.
The Tara Smith haircare range of award winning products are no accident, developed by Tara to withstand everything that Hollywood can throw at you as film sets are highly demanding and challenging environments, where the premium is placed on clients being camera-ready at all times. Her products have been developed to perform as succesfully as the talent on screen.
Winning awards such as the Elle Magazine ‘Best Haircare Product’ takes Tara beyond hairstyle. It takes a huge commitment to making sure that hair is well nourished, hydrated and glowing with health and vitality. Tara looks upon hair as a plant, which requires feeding, hydrating and handling with tender loving care, to enable it to grow, strong, healthy and beautiful. This is what drove her to develop the most ethical head-care product range, without parallel and without compromise, and it is what still drives her in her mission to transform current thinking and continue (as ever) to turn heads. She believes that what you put on your body is as important as what goes in it.
Tara is also known for her kindness, generosity and empathy, and her high profile creates opportunities for her to embrace her philanthropic side. She truly believes that businesses have a duty to give something back to society, and this belief runs through the veins of the TS brand.