Hairdresser Finds Passion In Her Work



It's redheads, not blondes, who are having more fun these days, according to Back Street Salon hairdresser Tanner MacRae.

"People are still going blonde, but the hairdressing industry is trying to convince everyone that they want to be a redhead," MacRae said. "Hairdressers love color and red is color."


Tanner MacRae

But a word of caution -- changing your hair color to red is not a move to be considered lightly. MacRae says it can have a life-altering effect on people.

"It takes a person who's not afraid of life," she said. "I've seen women go red and leave their husbands."

Everybody seems to be getting in on the hair-color bandwagon these days, even younger children. In fact, MacRae said the really wild colors -- the greens and oranges -- are most commonly seen on middle school and elementary students.

"But mostly in the summer," she added.

MacRae, who moved to the Rim country 12 years ago from Colorado Springs, originally went to college to become a writer of children's books.

"I started going to beauty school as something to work my way through college with, and ended up loving it so much that I stayed in it," she said.

"After beauty school, I went to barber college and got my barber's license, and then my instructor's license.

MacRae, who does both men's and women's hair, facials and makeup, enjoys what she does for many reasons.

"I love that it's a medium you can be creative with," she said. "You have to adapt to a person's facial features, their bone structure."

A stint working in a wig salon in Grand Rapids, Mich., was invaluable experience. "You had to put a wig on someone that looked good and looked like their own hair, so I learned how to style it, pouf it up in certain places, create bangs if they needed it -- whatever it took to complement their bone structure and their profile," she said.

And then there's the people side of the business.

"I love working with people and getting to know people," she said. "They're probably people I never would have met otherwise -- people that have become important in my life.

"I enjoy their stories, hearing about their lives. And I hear a lot of them. I have people spill their guts to me for no reason."

And then there's the hairdresser-as-therapist syndrome.

"You can change a person's hair color to suit their personality and make them feel better about themselves and their life," she said, "even if it's just a temporary thing."

One of the things few Rim country residents know about MacRae is that she is an Olympic bronze medalist -- the Hairdressing Olympics, that is.

"Twenty-some years ago I used to compete in the Hairdressing Olympics," she said. "In 1980, I took a third in the U.S. in the men's freestyle.

MacRae, who was also on the Colorado State Hairstyling Team (bet you didn't know there even was one), says that anything goes in the freestyle competitions.

"They give you a model and you do whatever," she said. "It gets very wild. One time I used a 45 record in a model's hair."

While incorporating a record into a "do" may be a bit radical, MacRae would like to see Payson women become a little more current in their hairstyles.

"Everything is in hair-wise," she said. "But short and sassy hair with a lot of color in it is hot for women, and age doesn't make a difference."

Rim country men could also be a bit more hip.

"Men's haircuts are short, but not as short as they're wearing in Payson," she said. "It's the European influence, the Caesar look that's hot for men."

A word of advice to both sexes: "If your hair is taking longer than five minutes to do every day, you probably have the wrong haircut," she said. "That's the biggest thing I get from people -- ‘It takes me so long to do my hair.' If you get a good haircut, it should fall into place."

MacRae came to the Rim country because she wanted to raise her four children in a smaller community. Besides hair, she likes gardening, hiking, all kinds of craft things, and to "fix things up."

And while it has its trying moments (she was once accused of giving a woman pneumonia because she cut her hair too short), she still enjoys her profession.

"I still love it," she said. "I still have a passion for it."

What happened to the bronze medal she won in the Hairdressing Olympics?

"It's in a box next to my water heater in my storage shed along with all my trophies," she said.


Name: Tanner MacRae

Occupation: Hairdresser

Age: 29!

Birthplace: Ft. Carson, Colo.

Family: Three girls, one boy

Personal motto: Strive for excellence.

Inspiration: Every woman I meet.

Greatest feat: I haven't accomplished it yet.

Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Shopping!

Three words that describe me best: Creative, caring, strong.

I don't want to brag but ... I know I'm going to heaven.

Person in history I'd most like to meet: Michelangelo

Luxury defined: Great food in a great restaurant with great friends.

Dream vacation spot: Glenwood Springs, Colo.

Why Payson? I love the mountains.

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