Beauty’s Zen Master

At the Four Seasons Oahu, celebrity stylist Billy Yamaguchi adds a feng shui touch to every treatment.

Sitting in Billy Yamaguchi’s salon chair, you’re asked to think about ideas beyond haircut or color. Which word best describes your personality? Which color best describes what you’re feeling?

That’s just the start of a consultation with Yamaguchi, the celebrity stylist who recently opened an eponymous salon at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. “I learned a long time ago that when you’re a hairdresser, a dialogue is so much nicer than a monologue,” he says. Yamaguchi mastered his feng shui-inspired approach over the years at his salons at Four Seasons Westlake Village near Los Angeles and the Lake Austin Spa Resort in Texas. But when the Four Seasons asked whether he was interested in opening a salon at its latest resort at Ko Olina (translation: “place of joy”) on O’ahu’s southwestern coast, Yamaguchi didn’t have to think twice. “Th e first time I visited Hawai’i, I felt as though I belonged here,” he says.


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Yamaguchi at his O‘ahu salon (photo courtesy Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina). Opposite page: Yamaguchi also has his own line of hair care (photos courtesy

Moved by the familial spirit of ‘ohana, Yamaguchi believes his feng shui techniques have found a perfect home. “If ‘feng’ means wind, or the air you breathe, and ‘shui’ means water, which makes up about 60 to 70 percent of our bodies, then it only makes sense to apply these principles to how you look and feel,” he explains.

Yamaguchi’s wife, interior designer Melissa Chambers, designed the salon using feng shui principles, while he likewise has extended the ideology beyond hair services to include makeup, manicures and pedicures, even exercise recommendations and customized massages in the Four Seasons’ adjacent Naupaka Spa.

How does it work? Yamaguchi starts with four questions rooted in your current thoughts about your personality and lifestyle, and the colors you associate with each. Armed with this information, Yamaguchi translates your answers to correspond with one or more of the five elements—fire, earth, water, metal and wood—and how your beauty look can help in achieving harmony and balance in your life. If strength and the color red signify fire, for example, perhaps you’re in a passionate mood and therefore willing to take a few chances; someone more earthbound, meanwhile, might be seeking a simpler style requiring little maintenance.

“It takes anywhere from six to eight minutes, and then I’m off and going,” Yamaguchi says of that initial consultation. “I used to look at the person holistically, from the outside, and then did whatever I wanted. But this is about getting to know the person, and how what he or she is feeling inside plays a role on how they look on the outside.” It’s a technique that has put Yamaguchi in high demand: His client roster has included such

A-listers as Lady Gaga, Charlize Theron, Phil Jackson and Deepak Chopra. His schedule, meanwhile, allows him to spend just 72 hours every five to six weeks in his O’ahu salon, though he has trained each staffmember in his feng shui beauty technique. “I’ve learned in Hawai’i especially that everyone definitely wants that spirit of ‘ohana—they want the time, the touch and the experience,” he says.

Subsequent visits are key, Yamaguchi says, because your answers to those four questions are likely to differ. “They’re fluctuating elements, always changing, because you are ever-changing,” he notes. “Each time we ask the questions, we’re tapping into the subconscious mind, tapping into something you need, yet you don’t even know it.”

That connection between stylist and client, Yamaguchi adds, ultimately creates a customized experience that transcends beauty. “These days everyone wants something that feels completely tailored,” he says. “Th is is more than hairstyling; it’s a total wellness experience, a transformation from inside to out.”

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