Tang's meteoric rise on the Internet—he currently has over 725,000 online fans and followers—is the combined result of his solid hairdressing skills, a second career as a professional model and formal photographic training.
He keeps it real by showing color and style work that's edgy yet relatable to fashion-forward clients. And, because his videos are uncensored, they're filled with entertaining, off-the-wall commentaries and a sprinkling of sexy innuendos.
"A few years ago, I became enamored with YouTube, which naturally led me to watch amateur bloggers show thousands of users how to do balayage," says Tang. "I was so horrified that it prompted me to create a YouTube video that shared just how beautiful and elegant balayage designs could be when done by a skilled beauty professional."
What happened next not only floored Tang, but also the entire pro-beauty industry. His first video—which now has well over 1 million views—catapulted him into the social media limelight.
Within a few weeks, beauty blogger Michelle Phan, who has over 7 million fans and followers, not only asked Tang to do her hair, but also devoted an entire video to her experience and results. To put it bluntly, that's when all hell broke loose.
"The day Michelle posted her video, it was crazy," recalls Tang. "I had 168 calls within a few hours and had to turn my phone off because I couldn't handle the call volume."
With over 725,000 online fans and followers, Tang's king-of-the-hill social media presence eclipses all other stylists and educators.
|Michelle Phan and Tang||Crystal Hefner and Tang|
New Celebrity Status
Two years ago, at a time when he was already the No. 1 stylist on YouTube, Tang discovered Instagram.
"I was working on a client who had brought her 14-year-old daughter with her," says Tang. "I remember making a big fuss over taking a picture of her mom's new hairstyle to post on Facebook. The daughter, who had a sour look on her face, immediately chimed in. 'Are you still on Facebook?' she said. 'Ewww, that's so old. Kids aren't on Facebook anymore; they're on Instagram.'
"The daughter also volunteered another piece of information that put the whole social media phenomenon into perspective. 'Cheerleaders and football jocks are so passé,' she said. 'The most popular kids in school are the ones with the biggest followings on Instagram and YouTube.' It was an epiphany, to say the least.
"Parlaying my success with YouTube, I joined Instagram on the spot and immediately began melding the two platforms in terms of content by sharing videos, great tips and tricks and news about my pro-beauty activities."
|Nicole Raschefsky||Lynna Nguyen|
SNAPSHOT Fast facts about Guy Tang
YouTube: youtube.com/sailoguy and youtube.com/guytanghair
|Lisa Ashley Scales. Photographer: Mel Dacera||Fire ombre|
In addition to his online and event activities, Tang continues to be a solo stylist at his salon suite on the Sunset Strip.
"I'm actually a one-man band for my videos, too," says Tang. "I do the hair, record the video programs, photograph the models and do my own editing. On a personal level, I'm pretty much oblivious to the buzz that I've created. When people recognize me outside of my salon or circle of friends, I'm still somewhat surprised.
"I feel the same way when participating in beauty events. Recently, I was a panel speaker at a well-attended pro-beauty show. When I entered the room, there was a throng of stylists cheering, clapping and even shouting my name. I was stunned. One stylist even told me that before she started following me on social media, she was ready to give up on hairdressing.
"This aspect of my success is a little overwhelming at times, but in a very positive way. I love helping other stylists by sharing formulas, tips and tricks. In return, I feel they love me because I keep it real. I work behind the chair every day just like they do. And, I've built my career from the ground up more than once."
|Clara Hwang; rose-gold ombre||Arika Sato|
Freedom of Choice
With any meteoric rise to fame, it's important to have a strong sense of self before the sudden gush of attention. For Tang, it's his steadfast commitment to maintaining his independence.
He can't be bought; he'll never be for sale. "I also never use a product on my social media platforms that I don't absolutely love," says Tang. "And, even though many stylists dream of becoming an artistic force for a large pro-beauty company— which is fine—it's not for me. I use a lot of different brands on my videos and in my salon. Equally important, I want to have fun and always be myself, whether I'm on or off camera. That's why I became part of the pro-beauty industry in the first place and why I'm still here and loving what I do best—creating beautiful hair and inspiring the next generation of star stylists."