Head Over Hills -
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Head Over Hills

John Simpson's tireless approach to his career gains him fame, satisfaction and the chance to strut his stuff in front of millions of beauty pros worldwide.

July/August 2012 Find in
July/August 2012

What do Martha Stewart and John C Simpson have in common? Plenty, apparently, since Simpson launched his own Color Inspiration with John Simpson web series on Unlike the domestic diva, though, who teaches millions of wannabes how to make a three-layer fritter and turn tin cans into a garden tote, Simpson keeps his passion focused on what he loves and does best: professional beauty. His greatest advantage against the most successful how-to maven of all time: In a personality contest, Simpson would win hands down.

Color Inspiration with John Simpson is one of the most exciting Web projects that I’ve been involved with to date,” Simpson beams. “It’s similar to doing hair on stage, but you can pick up the pace through quick edits. Beauty pros can see the before and after, as well as every step of the process—something that simply isn’t possible when doing a live show. Throughout each hour-long segment, I focus on inspiring colorists to stretch their creativity and move in new directions; create color designs that generate salon income; and share a lot of solid information that everyone needs to know in order to do consistent and exciting work.” Of course, Simpson’s program is also laden with his signature wit, which can sometimes zing like a light saber.

John Simpson
John Simpson

First Steps

How did this small-town creative end up being a world-renowned educator and colorist, and a recent Internet sensation? “How far do you want to go back?” Simpson laughs. “I know that I was always destined to become involved in the arts in some way, but my most vivid memories about beauty are from my high school days when I was a tall, lanky kid living in a country suburb wearing wack-a-doo haircolor and a skater bang that was so long that I couldn’t see where I was going.

“I also vividly remember the lifechanging moment when I told my mother that I wasn’t going to college, despite already being enrolled in architecture and photography courses. ‘I know,’ she told me. ‘You’re going to beauty school instead.’ Is nothing sacred? When I asked her how she knew, she rolled her eyes and replied, ‘John, all you’ve ever talked about is hair.’”

In 1992, Simpson packed up and headed for beauty school, just one week after his high school graduation. “The moment I walked into the school and smelled the perms mingled with hairspray and setting lotion, I knew I was home,” he grins.

By 1994, Simpson had not only earned his cosmetology license, but also an Associate Degree in Business Management, salon manager and teaching licenses, and certifications in skin, makeup and nail care. In 1996, he became a Goldwell field educator. “I’d been enamored with platform work since I first became aware of this career opportunity during beauty school,” says Simpson. “Goldwell opened the door for this to happen.”

Today, Simpson travels the world as the Goldwell Lead Artistic Director, has an independent education company, is a member of the Intercoiffure Color Council, co-owns Lewis’ Hair Salon in Pittsburgh, and works behind the chair— time permitting. He will also be releasing an app in the very near future, which will allow stylists and colorists to follow his professional exploits and ask the color maestro questions pertaining to their work.

“It’s all good,” he says with a wide smile. “I love haircolor and the science that makes it such a great art medium. I love teaching and meeting hairstylists and colorists from all over the world. Most of all, by embracing my passion for beauty in so many ways, I love my life.” (

Intricate Simplicity, award winning image, NAHA 2008   Confliction, study of expressing color through black-and-white photography
Photographer: Babak; Hairstylist/Fashion Styling: John C Simpson; Makeup Artist: Raquel Atienza



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