It’s never been a better time to be a Paramore fan. After a five-year hiatus, the band is back with a brand new album, “This Is Why” dropping in February. They’ve even brought one of the band’s most popular songs, “Misery Business,” out of retirement and back to the stage But that’s not all that has been going on for lead singer Hayley Williams, who has also kept busy growing a hair empire with her long-time collaborator, hairstylist, and makeup artist Brian O’Connor. Together they just opened a progressive new salon, Fruits Hair Lab in Nashville, where haircuts are genderless —instead defined as “Above ear” and “Covering ear and beyond.” Meanwhile, their now six-year-old hair color line, Good Dye Young continues to rule over the category, introducing a new generation of bold souls to expressive hair color. “People will always be trying to figure out who they are,” says Williams about the mission behind her growing brand. “I think it's an incredible journey to go on with someone.”
Also out of retirement alongside Paramore? Williams’ ultra-bright orange red hair — the hair color that has been somewhat synonymous with the singer over the course of her career, despite her shift to blonde in 2017. “I kind of resented that other people owned it, and I didn’t own it anymore,” she explains about tiring of her red look five years ago. True to what she preaches, she’s a true embodiment of using hair color to connect with her identity, admitting her return to red was a journey: “I had to find my way back to reclaiming it for myself.”
Below Williams talks to NYLON about her earliest beauty inspiration, her brand, Good Dye Young, and her iconic flaming hair.
What’s your earliest beauty memory?
I have a few early memories of flipping through my mom's magazines and seeing Gwen Stefani and thinking, “Oh, I need to not have any eyebrows.” So like most young girls in the late nineties, I tweezed all my eyebrows off and looked absolutely ridiculous.
But, overall I didn't feel a lot of pressure to conform or to look like anyone. I credit my mom for that. If I was inspired by something, it was usually someone that was a little left of center, like Gwen or Missy Elliot.
Do you remember understanding at the time you were experimenting with your own look?
I would copy women that I saw on TV. I would watch TRL and kind get all of my little inspiration. I lived in Mississippi, in a really small town, so a lot of times I just had to get creative and find things in my closet or hope that I got something for my birthday that I asked for. My family didn't have a ton of money, but they were very encouraging of me being an individual. I definitely got made fun of for outfits I would wear, but a lot of the times it was from me seeing something on MTV and trying to make my own version of it at home.
You were too cool too early — they couldn't handle it.
I thought that — they couldn't handle the heat in Mississippi. But I had a lot of fun experimenting with it. I kind of like dipped in and out of that through my teenage years. I would go between wanting to be minimalistic and invisible, and then wanting to wear fishnets on my arms and stand out. I'm still like that to this day. I go back and forth.
Do you remember the first beauty product you ever loved?
My mom was a Clinique girl in the ’90s. She had the big bar of soap and the whole set. I loved using because I was just fascinated by rituals and the fact that she did that every night. But my first favorite novelty product was a glitter hair mascara. I would have my hair in a spiky claw clip situation with the two tendrils and put glitter hair mascara on. I thought I was the coolest kid.
How did beauty play into developing your identity as a performer and artist?
I resented it at first. The first two years I was very adamant that I was one of the boys. The scene that Paramore was in was just not very comfy for femininity, so I really repressed that. As I got a bit older, and started enjoying traveling and seeing different people my age in different countries, I noticed that people were using makeup and hair products in ways that really spoke to me. I was 17 or 18 and that’s when I thought I really wanted to get back into this stuff. It was around the same time Brian [O’Connor] and I became friends and started getting close.
I remember when I went to Manchester for the first time, right outside of a record shop, this girl with cute bob-slash-pixie hair had a huge circle of this forest green color over her eye. So, fast forward to “Hard Times” and we're playing with all these ’80s and ’90s sort-of geometric looks. Brian and I did the yellow circle on one eye and a blue rectangle on the other, and I was thinking of that girl the whole time.
When did the bright red hair become your thing? Was that an intentional decision?
It was kind of a decision, but it didn't start that way. It started with me being a bored teenager wanting to pierce everything and get tattoos. I told my mom I really wanted a mohawk. My mom—she must have been so exhausted—was like, “Just please, just wait until you're 18.” So, respectfully, I didn't get a mohawk. I thought I'd just dye my hair. And red was an easy one because my hair was light enough and I didn't have to bleach it if I didn’t want to.
That was around the time we were just writing as Paramore, and then we started playing shows and people started noticing the band and they would write reviews and say, “Oh, that’s Hayley with the fire red hair.” It became a thing — almost by projection. Then I started playing into it a little bit more and honestly, I've always kind of enjoyed that.
But there was a time where I had to step back. That's when I bleached my hair out. I kind of resented that other people owned it, and I didn’t own it anymore. I had to find my way back to reclaiming it for myself.
What’s your favorite hair color you’ve ever had? What feels the most like you?
My favorite is like a peach-y, yellowy orange. That's my favorite color on me. It just makes me happy.
Honestly, I feel like I'm still blonde. In my mind, when I imagine myself doing things, I still see blonde hair. It's still going to take a little while to learn how to balance people seeing me as one person and protecting my own relationship with identity.I'm having a lot of fun being orange and I think there will be a time where I start to really envision myself as this person. That's also what Good Dye Young is all about — I can’t be like, I'll be blonde and everyone else can dye.
What made you want to start Good Dye Young?
The first music video Brian was on set for was “crushcrushcrush.” 2007 is when we were together all the time and we were constantly talking about what it means to evolve. I was already starting to feel like people were going pigeonhole me. I think it was through all those conversations, our relationship got so tight. It was based on expression and like who we think we are and what we want to be. Eventually we thought we should do something together that perpetuates these conversations. People will always be trying to figure out who they are, and I think it's an incredible journey to go on with someone.
What other parts of like your beauty routine are you enjoying right now?
I had acne in my late teens and early twenties, so I am a skincare fanatic. I love a ritual or a routine. It's something that is very grounding at the end or beginning of the day. I used to have a pretty toxic relationship with my skin because I would break out so much on the road, so I would just get facials all the time to the point that I think it was probably not doing anything good for my skin. So, in the early days of the pandemic, when nobody knew what the hell was going on, I just quit all of it and thought, “I'm not going to worry about my skin.” Then, my skin got better, which I was really thankful for.
Now, instead of spending a ton of money to get facials, I would rather splurge on products I've always wanted to try. I love the Biologique Recherche P50 1970 Toner. I remember it was like A Thing for the Olsen twins, which meant it had to be good. I really love it, it's actually helped my skin a lot. I've used the EltaMD sunscreen that everyone's obsessed with now, since I was 16. If people ask me what I think they should do for their skin, that's the first thing that I say. Most recently, I bought a travel size of the Augustinus Bader The Cream. I hate to say it, it's so expensive, but it’s so good.
Is there anything else that you do for wellness?
When I'm home, I'll take a bath every day. On the road it's a little bit tougher because we're in venues and they don't really have bathtub — I probably wouldn't use it if they did. I swear by a bath because I think it helps to chill your brain out. I journal. It's just such a good wind down for me. The newest thing that I'm trying is Athletic Greens — it really works. Those are my time-out moments.
When you're doing hair and makeup for the stage, do you have a routine or are you always changing it up?
Well, the album's not even out, so we're in this weird in-between time. We kind of know what the look is for the next album, but we're taking advantage of this time where we're transitioning into this look. I don't wanna say it’s a character, because it's me, but Brian and I are going to have a lot of fun with some Jane Asher and Brigitte Bardot, ’60s and ’70s beehive hair moments. Kind of like what you see in the “This Is Why” video. We're teasing the shit outta my hair. On tour, I'm wearing a lot of Collina Strata and it's very colorful. Hillary [Taymour]'s a brilliant designer and we're just having a lot of fun basing it around those outfits.
It’s a new era! Do you have to have a new look for every show?
Something that we're doing on this tour is paying homage to makeup looks that I did myself when I was younger on the road when didn't have Brian out with me. Obviously, I was not a makeup artist. But I did what I could with what I had [laughs]. Brian has been looking at old photos and trying to figure out how to reinterpret this look now.
Do you have a beauty philosophy or a life philosophy?
I think it's about embracing the full spectrum of who you are, not trying to fit into one little niche. Because I've tried, and I can't. It makes me anxious to think that I have to be one type of person — I think it's my Gemini rising.