Celebrity Hair Stylist Chaz Dean Knows a Few Things About Richer Shades of Compassion, Highlighting Charitable Causes & Permanent Giving
by Dann Dulin
Photographed Exclusively for A&U by Nancy Perry
Chaz Dean named his product line WEN—that’s “new” spelled backwards. Several years ago he also created “Team WEN in Spirit,” which is made up of his employees, friends, and clients who band together for the Los Angeles AIDS Walk. In three years they’ve raised nearly $100,000. “Every year our team grows bigger, and our energy and our goals get higher. We continue to support and encourage others to get involved, too,” Chaz says proudly.
Chaz also sponsors the AIDS Project Los Angeles Oscar party, usually held at the Abbey in West Hollywood and hosted by Pauley Perrette. In addition, Chaz blows it out for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation by donating products, contributing financially, and volunteering his time. A photographer before moving on to cosmetology school, he donates his photography to fundraisers, and he often opens his tranquility-infused salon, The Chaz Dean Studio, for charity events.
Several years ago Chaz was featured on Bravo’s docu-reality series, Flipping Out, when designer Jeff Lewis completely revamped his Studio. He took Chaz’s three 1920’s-style Hollywood bungalows and turned them into a private sanctuary, creating a soothing, illuminating, stylish, and organic ambiance. Think Sedona—among the bliss and solitude of the Red Rocks. (It’s likely when you visit his studio that three peppy faces will greet you: Spencer, Hunter, and Ella, his Labradors.) WEN products are also holistic and natural. Chaz has not used commercial shampoo on himself nor on his clients for twenty years!
After moving to Los Angeles in the mid-eighties, Chaz developed the WEN concept, a new approach to hair care. WEN was recently launched internationally, along with WEN Pets & WEN Kids. He’s currently working on new seasonal cleansing conditioners. This entrepreneur continually cuts away at imperfection to improve his product line. “I constantly have ideas in my head,” states Chaz, a fervent fan of Charlie’s Angels, his favorite television show while growing up. And it isn’t too startling to learn that one of the “Angels,” Farrah Fawcett, who became iconic for her elaborate, feathered, sweeping hairstyle, was his preferred angel.
Chaz not only splashes various hues on tresses, but he brightens lives through his humanitarian efforts. The ardent cook, avid hiker, and yoga-practicing Chaz is dedicated and passionate about his career—and finding a cure for AIDS.
Among your clients are Charlize Theron, Lisa Edelstein, and Ben Foster. Which celebrity client have you had the longest?
Nicollette Sheridan was my first celebrity client. When she came in I got her off bleaching her hair and now she’s a bleach-free, healthy blonde. She referred people from 90210 and it was like the domino effect from there.
Tell me about the process of naming your products WEN.
Well, I actually spent many hours putting up three letter words to a mirror to see what looked right. I wanted a word that had a Zen-like feel and yet not really be defined. WEN Hair & Body Care, as a brand, is a natural way to care for your hair and people now associate WEN with healthy beautiful hair…which is great.
What impact has the epidemic had on you?
When I moved to Los Angeles at the age of twenty-one, I met my landlord. Sadly, he was hospitalized and passing away from AIDS. It was my first encounter with the disease and it had a huge impact on my life. I have lost others in the battle of AIDS. Early on, the epidemic taught me to be extra cautious. It was very scary….
As a gay man, you certainly are aware of the rise in HIV infection among the younger generation. Any idea how we can combat that?
Raising awareness through social media. It’s bigger than ever, especially among young people. I think that targeted, dramatic social campaigns have an impact by educating and encouraging others to speak out.
Being single, when do you think one should broach the subject of HIV/AIDS when dating?
Not necessarily on the first date. I think when you realize there’s a connection and the relationship is moving forward, the conversation should happen. It’s so important to be tested for HIV!
What motivates you to give?
I have always given of my time. Now that I am able to give more, I do, and I hope to inspire others. I encourage my staff to volunteer as well. I offer my employees one paid day every month to volunteer at a charity/foundation of their choice. This is something I encourage all employers to do.
Who do you count among heroes in the epidemic?
Those friends that I’ve lost are not only heroes but everyone fighting for a cure and raising awareness for the cause.
What individual has inspired you the most?
Rev. Dr. Della Reese Lett has inspired me tremendously and helped me become who I am today. She is such an amazing individual who teaches people to live a happy positive life. I am very grateful for everything she has taught me and for her guidance. Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Wayne Dyer have also inspired me. What they all have in common is that they are so uplifting, inspirational, and motivational.
Whom would you like to meet that you haven’t yet?
I would love to meet Madonna. She is one who has always encouraged people to follow their dreams and visions and not let anyone get in their way. She has done that with her own life and she inspires others to do so as well. I would also like to meet Pink. I saw her show at the Staples Center and she was amazing!
What is at Chaz Dean’s core?
I like to keep the energy around me positive, to create a peaceful, healthy environment for everyone. I try my best to eliminate negativity and give everyone around me a positive experience. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is very important to me. I want everyone surrounding me to have the benefit of a healthy lifestyle as well.
For more about Chaz Dean, log on to his Web site at: www.chazdean.com.
For more information about photographer Nancy Perry, log on to www.nperrystudio.com.
Dann Dulin interviewed Scott Bakula for the June cover story.