Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing best selling author and beauty guru, Peter Lamas. Peter Lamas came to New York from Cuba in the early 1960s, and began his career in hair and makeup not too long after that. Peter trained with Paul Mitchell at Vidal Sassoon and Kenneth to become the go-to hair/makeup stylist for icons like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Twiggy, Grace Kelly, and Gloria Vanderbuilt. Currently, Peter is the owner of Peter Lamas, a line of natural hair and beauty products.
In the interview below, Peter describes arriving in New York in 1961 after leaving his native Cuba, New York and life in the 60s, and what it was like to work with Paul Mitchell at Vidal Sassoon. Peter also reveals the inspiration behind his natural beauty products line, and recommends foods to eat that will help you maintain healthy skin and hair. Check out the interview published below and also Peter’s website.
DLP: (de la Pen): Please tell de la Pen Pennies (readers) what it was like to spend your young adulthood in New York in the 1960s after having spent your youth in Cuba?
PL (Peter Lamas): At the time, Cuba was considered the Riviera of the west – a really beautiful tropical island. Arriving in New York, this incredible major metropolis was such a culture shock. The first thing I noticed was the energy. There was so much going on in the city with such a diverse population. I really appreciated New York’s ability to facilitate creativity, and those who were truly passionate about fashion and the beauty business gravitated to New York. Vidal Sassoon, Paul Mitchell, Way Bandy – my mentors and peers who pushed me to perfect my craft could only be found in a place like New York City.
DLP: How did being in New York at this time influence your views of hair and beauty?
PL: It wasn’t just being in New York, it was that entire decade that really had an effect on me. The 60’s were such a unique time – it was a decade of experimentation, creativity and change. Beauty and fashion were becoming more and more outrageous. No holds barred. It forced me to constantly reinvent and be more innovative because the competition, especially in New York, was outstanding. There were so many artistic geniuses that existed at that time, constantly pushing the envelope. You had to keep up, otherwise you fell to the back.
DLP: What was it like working for Paul Mitchell at Vidal Sassoon? What did you like most and what did you like least?
PL: I liked everything about working for Paul Mitchell at Vidal Sasoon. Both men brought a whole new science to hair styling. They invented the precision cut, a flawless mathematical approach to cutting and styling that helped properly sculpt hair – it was a technique that did not exist before Mitchell or Sassoon. When it came to hair designing, Paul Mitchell kept raising the bar.
DLP: Can you elaborate on what it was like to work with Kenneth at the Kenneth Salon Townhouse in Manhattan?
PL: Only the truly rich and famous walked through those doors. Celebrities, socialites and political elites from around the world came to the Kenneth Salon Townhouse to seek our expertise to enhance and polish their image. Anyone who was anyone could be seen there on a regular basis and every day was different and exciting because you never knew who to expect. For example, I had the pleasure of working with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at the Townhouse and that encounter led to a continued professional relationship, even after I left the Townhouse. My time at the Kenneth Salon was truly a significant era in my life and career.
DLP: Can you talk more about how and why your mother’s bone cancer and other friends’ experiences inspired you to start a natural health and beauty products company?
PL: It made me more aware of the effects the environment and the products we use every day have. Many of the places we live and work, as well as the products we use can contain contaminants that are harmful to our health. I experienced this firsthand as I saw my family and clients develop illnesses. This led me to investigate and study what could be done to create better, healthier personal care products. People use these products on a daily basis and don’t know what dangers lie in the chemicals the product might contain and its accumulative effects. I really felt the need to protect the consumer and protect the environment.
DLP: What types of products does Peter Lamas offer?
PL: We have two hair care lines. The Chinese Herbs Regenerating System is a 5-step system that promotes healthier hair growth. It is a natural alternative to Rogaine, taking an eastern medicine approach with hair care. We also have the Naturals Haircare Collection which uses certified organic botanicals to enhance each hair type.
Our skincare line is very unique in that it combines advanced technology with organic ingredients to create natural yet innovative products. Our products truly help redefine skin. All of the products are 100% vegan. Completely free of harsh chemicals – paraben-free, petrochemical-free and SLS-free.
DLP: What are the must-have Peter Lamas products?
PL: All the products serve a particular purpose with an incredible outcome. Once you experience each and every one you will truly understand and appreciate its potential. My particular favorites are the Vital Infusion Complex, a powerful anti-aging treatment which produces obvious results within a reasonable amount of time. I recommend using this product at the first sign of aging as The Vital Infusion Complex helps erase wrinkles and age spots and helps protect and maintain skin’s youth.
Another set of products I would recommend using is the Chinese Herbs Regenerating System – in particular the Chinese Herbs Stimulating Shampoo and the Chinese Herbs Regenerating Scalp Serum. Whether you have issues with hair loss, shedding or weak lifeless hair, these products can help.
DLP: What are some little known a.k.a. secrets to health and beauty?
PL: Beauty begins with how you take care of yourself. Eating right is so crucial in how we fuel our bodies and exercise is equally important in maintaining our physical structure. Finding personal care products that provide protection and nourishment to the largest organ we have – the skin – is also very important to keep in mind. Most importantly, a very sound, positive attitude is the most beautiful attribute a person can possess.
DLP: Which fruits/foods good are for the hair and skin?
PL: Foods that are high in vitamins A and C as well as omega fatty acids and lots of lean proteins are important to maintain the health of hair and skin. A few of my favorites are avocado, papaya, mangoes, tomatoes, spinach, yams, and salmon.
DLP: Please list your favorite beauty trends for this fall/winter and holiday season?
PL: There’s been a return to sophistication and glamour on many of the runways. I love the look of simplistic elegance; it is the look of the late 40’s-50’s touched by today’s modern take.
DLP: Please give de la Pen Pennies (readers) a glimpse into what a typical day for you is like?
PL: Each day is different for me. Some days are spent on research for product development and working closely with my lab personnel. Other days I meet with my marketing and public relations teams and catch up with key clients. I love giving beauty advice and try to meet with different creative people to get new ideas about the beauty business.
And there it is. The Fashion and Style of the Pen…de la Pen.
For More Information on Peter Lamas Products Check Out The Website: