Personal histories: Peter Waters – celebrity hair colourist

Revelstoke's Peter Waters acted in London's West End theatre productions before launching a career as a hair colourist.

Peter Waters has made Revelstoke his home after an international career as a hair colouring specialist.

Peter Waters has made Revelstoke his home after an international career as a hair colouring specialist.

Peter Waters grew up in London, England, tried his hand at acting in West End Theatre and was friends with actors. However, colouring hair was his true passion and he became one of the foremost colourists in North America.

If you run into Peter Waters at one of his favourite haunts around town, you might recognize him as an actor from any number of plays with the Revelstoke Theatre Company, or from his involvement in several other community groups.

You’re likely unaware he was one of the foremost hair colouring specialists in North America.

Hailing from London, England, Waters is a retired colourist.

Having apprenticed just outside London, eventually working in central London, Waters was friends with many professional actors in the vibrant London theatre scene.

“My roommate, Geraldine Gardner, was an actress on the West End theatres, so of course I coloured the hair of the actors in the original production of Chorus Line,” said Waters. “I used to meet her after her shows and we would go to restaurants that catered to actors after work. I met a lot of performers.”

Through late night conversation with these professionals (including the likes of Gardner, Anthony Hopkins and John Malkovich), Waters learned much about acting.

“One wonderful thing about these actors was that there was no intimidation,” said Waters. “They were kind and humble. I was very lucky, it was a wonderful time.”

Colouring hair and acting became two competing passions. Waters was cast in an off the West End production of King Lear. The show even went on tour.

“It was dreadful! The play should have lasted around three hours – our version took five hours,” Waters laughs. “And the director and actor who played Lear shared a girlfriend and were always fighting; it was a terrible atmosphere. After that I decided to stick with hair.”

While Waters may never have turned pro with his theatrical career, his job as a colourist brought celebrities to his chair.

“You wouldn’t know any,” he warns. “They were British.”

Waters worked and taught in several Vidal Sassoon salons in San Francisco and then London. Waters worked hair like an artist and he was on the creative cutting edge of the industry. His work eventually took him to Toronto. During his time there, a well known American stylist approached him about joining an artistic team he was putting together. The plan was to tour and put on large scale hair shows. Waters came onboard as the colourist. The team travelled throughout the U.S. and England.

“It was a wonderful time, one of my favourites lives,” said Waters.

Waters was, at the time, doing something very special in the world of hair colour.

“I based my colouring on impressionism and post-impressionist art,” Waters explained. “I learned to create different effects in hair.”

It was, quite simply, art.

He even wrote a book called Color Your Hair

Eventually, Waters took a permanent teaching job in Vancouver, where he stayed for eight years.“Then I met someone who lived just outside Pittsburgh. We were very attracted to one another and married in Vegas. But it was a total disaster,” Waters said. “It was a case of liking each other very much and thinking it was love.”

After 11 months, the two went their separate ways before Christmas. Invited by a good friend to spend the holidays with his family in Revelstoke rather than face the season alone, Waters came to Revelstoke. That was 20 years ago.

In Revelstoke Waters has made a home. Enjoying the environment, lifestyle and people, Waters has friends in every age demographic.

“And when it comes to hair colour, my passion is still there,” he explained.

Moving to Revelstoke is something Waters considers a blessing.

“Revelstoke is such a wonderful place. I have never had so many friends, I have never been so lucky to have so many people I love in my life.”

Read a 1995 article featuring Peter Waters here: