13 June 2024

Colorful Reflections: 5 Top Colorists Share Their Haircolor Knowledge!

The kaleidoscope effect of a sturdy color business impacts every area of the profession, from functional to creative, practical to artistic. We asked five top luminaries to share with you their perspective on the subject of color…



What exactly does your job involve?
Running my own business means multi-tasking; checking staff rotas, solving problems, guiding and building a business, doing clients and dealing with any challenges. On top of this I may be building a creative brief for a shoot or show I am working on or fulfilling aspects of my role as Wella Professionals Global Creative Director, Colour. I do find it hard to switch between more managerial and creative projects at the same time.

How much collusion is there between you and fellow Wella Professionals Global Creative Director, Style, Eugene Souleiman?
I love working with Eugene and always try to support him on color wherever I can. We work together regularly on all the Wella trend visuals and at the shows, so we are quite often on the same projects.

Where do color trends originate?
The trend process is a long journey. For color, we start in Paris with a trend agency and the whole P&G beauty team. We look at long-term movements, directions and socio-economic movement that indicate how trends are shaping up. The next process is to make the trends hair specific. Eugene and I talk to a cross-section of hairdressers and those within the Wella team to see how the trends relate to what we are doing editorially and on the catwalks. After all of this, the real fun starts, working with a team of elite hairstylists from all over the world to bring the trends to life, give them a face and personality.

What dictates the direction of Wella Professionals color product development?
This is an area of my Wella role that I love. Working on Illumina, Color.id – and now Innosense. Wella is at the forefront of development and there are always so many exciting things in the pipeline. I meet with the R&D team and discuss what I am working on, what’s missing or what we can improve.
What’s great about this work is hairdressers being part of the process, creating products hairdressers need.

In a salon environment, what do you consider to be a colorist’s biggest error?
Over-coloring. Virtually everywhere I go I see some evidence of clients taking hold of the advice a colorist is giving and the end result being too much color. I love lots of color as I think I demonstrated at SS14 Prada show; all 50 models colored and with very full-on tones. But in a salon situation, suitability has to be everyone’s guide.

For a colorist which is the better asset: technical excellence or creative thinking?
Starting with technical excellence is the only route to creative thinking. Without the knowledge and security of great technical training it’s hard to break the barriers of what can be done. My training at Vidal Sassoon was the starting point for me to be able to look at color in a very different way.

Can a haircut ever be complete without color?
Never! Even if the colorist is just adding shine or gloss, no cut is complete without color.


What ethos lies at the core of Sassoon color education?
This concept of shape and balance which means at Sassoon, we do not just color hair, but use color to directly accentuate, diffuse or amplify the dynamics of a haircut. The principles of Shape and Balance can be traced back to the original teachings of Bauhaus-founder color theorist, Johannes Itten, who wrote: “He who wants to become a master of color must see, feel, and experience each individual color in its many endless combinations with all other colors.”

Please define the unique Wella / Sassoon relationship.
Wella Professionals and Sassoon have enjoyed an exclusive, highly successful working relationship for over 40 years, resulting in mutual respect and an extremely strong professional partnership. Setting the highest standards in technical excellence, creativity, salon services, education and professional tool development, Sassoon continues to be a fundamental partner to Wella Professionals, supporting its Global Education program, particularly through its iconic cutting credentials, and its pivotal trend translation role at the International Trend Vision Award.

What part does Wella Professionals play in the salon teams’ color education?
Everyone in our color teams is educated on all aspects of Wella Professional product formulation and usage – it’s a part of their formative training. They’re also continuously updated on any new technology as it develops. The International Color Team also works alongside Wella Color Technicians on various color initiatives, the  most significant being a day of inspiration  on the four-step Wella Master Color Expert Program.

Is color education brand neutral, Wella Professionals or Sassoon brand-based?
Our International Sassoon Color Team members are all formally trained in both Sassoon Professional and Wella Professional products. The core of our color education is based on ABC Coloring Hair the Sassoon Way, which is brand neutral and explains color in terms of depth and tone rather than specific numbered formulas.

How does Sassoon ensure successful collusion between colorists and cutters?
Mutual respect and understanding. The Sassoon look is inextricably linked with cut and color working in harmony, yet achieved by separate specialists. This collaboration is in the DNA of every Sassoon team member.

Does Sassoon view color as integral to the merit of a haircut?
The Sassoon philosophy of shape and balance means that cut and color must work together in harmony. Color, when applied with sensitivity, technique and empathy for the individual can elevate the dynamics of a shape and make a good hair cut a great haircut.

Could you ever defend a haircut for not having any color enhancement?
No! A hair cut is naked without color!

Could you identify a signature Sassoon color service?
Color innovation is integral to the Sassoon story. Multi-colored highlights, flying colors, spotlighting, line drawing, slices, convertibles… over sixty years we have come up with so many original techniques. But the most iconic must be the firefly two-tone tint, still key in Sassoon color work. It stands the test of time as the forerunner to all the shape and balance principles that have evolved since.


What percentage of salon clients have hair color?
Around 70 percent of our clients – female and male clients – have some form of color, whether it’s a subtle camouflage technique or a trend-based color. Highlighting is the most popular service, from full head to partial, and the most frequent salon color service is clients visiting every four weeks for root retouching.

How does the salon convert color shy clients to color addicts?
Clients are often color shy as they don’t understand what the commitment means, how much it will cost and how the color treatment will impact their hair condition. They often have mistaken beliefs, so our team members are trained to help clients understand what commitment is involved around color. The more informed a client is on the facts, the greater the opportunity to say yes, rather than no, to buying into a service and a new look.

In an education context, how do you work with your color manufacturer?
Being a UK Ambassador Salon for Redken Color means we work with the R&D team in the testing and developing products. We’re often involved with a product long before it is launched and work with Redken to implement a strategic education program.

Any signature ‘Andrew Barton’ color services to talk about?
We do create signature techniques, an example being ‘stranding’, which we developed for our TV presenter clients who, after the launch of HD TV, noticed the early stages of grey hair; HD made them more obvious. Stranding involves painting individual white hairs to the exact match of the clients natural color.

How do you keep a color client happy?
Much of a client’s happiness is about feeling comfortable and that you are in control of her look. A happy client expects you to give her your expert advice, know-how and to evolve her look. A client should never have to ask for a new look, but be offered it as part of a consultation. A good creative colorist will be offering ideas to tweak and evolve the color of a client’s hair from season to season and as the client herself changes.

How do you prevent a color client from getting stuck in a rut?
Clients only get stuck in a rut if the above procedure isn’t followed! They either dare not or don’t know how to ask for change. My staff are employed for their expertise and passion for fashion. We encourage their thinking to be like fashion designers but instead of working with fabric, they work with hair. It is their designer’s responsibility to share ideas with their clients, we have a reputation for good quality expert advice and fashion-focused work.

Can colored hair extensions be a good way to introduce clients to color?
Yes, we use Racoon hair extensions, particularly temporary ones, to show a client how her hair could look with a new color and also to transform their colour for a special event. Hair extensions are a brilliant creative colour tool for the team to utilise.


What exactly does your job involve?
It’s so diverse. I head up the team of worldwide TIGI color educators, updating them with new shades, techniques, products and creative ideas, work closely with European and US TIGI directors developing courses for our academies in New York and London, and working with Anthony Mascolo and Nick Irwin is a priority. All TIGI collections have a color trend to work in synergy with the cut and style so at every shoot, models’ hair is colored with TIGI copyrightcolor, even if the product being promoted doesn’t directly relate to color. I also work with Anthony and Nick on global TIGI shows, so I travel a lot: the USA, most of Europe, across Russia and Taiwan. My other role is working with the colour development team, looking at color trends and developing new shades and techniques. We test all new colors at Bed Head Studio and I have final approval.

What dictates the direction of TIGI color product development?
My creative ideas come from fashion trends. I’m really lucky that TIGI works backstage at so many international fashion shows, it gives me great vision for future trends. This knowledge helped me develop the TIGI Color Consultation course, identifying an individual’s fashion ‘tribe’ and linking this to their skin tone, eye color and complexion to create the perfect bespoke shade.

Is your color work governed by your hands, head or heart? 
A bit of all three..! My head does the research and gets the inspiration. My heart gets excited and pushes me forwards and my hands do the final mix and application. I need all three to be effective!

What keeps a color client loyal to the technician?
It all starts with the consultation, continues with amazing service and concludes with fantastic results. And ongoing, treat every visit with a fresh eye. I think most clients go elsewhere because their colorist has become complacent, doesn’t volunteer new ideas and techniques, doesn’t really listen to what they want or share what can be achieved.

What fires your passion for your profession? 
Definitely being surrounded by inspiring people who are as passionate and enthusiastic as me.  At TIGI we are so busy that we hardly have time to breathe, this pushes us to the next level every day.

What could reinvigorate desire in a jaded colorist whose passion has cooled?
If someone has lost enthusiasm, they need to find it – fast! I think education and on-going training are vital; it keeps you ahead, motivates you to try new techniques. If you’re part of a strong team, you can share ideas and inspire one another, moving forwards together. On your own, you have to find inspiration so being aware is crucial.

Can a haircut ever be complete without color?
Look good – yes. Be fabulous and complete – no! Color adds depth, texture, focus, shine, texture and the final dimension. A cut can be technically perfect but color will make it look incredible. It’s all about synergy.


Tell us how and why TONI&GUY holds-hands with the fashion industry?
I studied fashion design before I went into hairdressing, so it will always be a passion of mine. In 2004 I married the two worlds by starting the brand’s sponsorship of London Fashion Week and this year TONI&GUY celebrates ten years as the Official Sponsor.

How does the collaboration with fashion benefit TONI&GUY’s salon network?
Our fashion relationship cascades down to our salon network via our image collections, where fashion is key; this imagery is visible in every salon window, it represents our brand image. And our partnership with London Fashion Week designers allows us to create bespoke items such as scarves, canvas tote bags etc. so we offer our salon clients their own little piece of designer and our brand becomes synonymous with fashion in their mind.

Do hair color trends come from catwalks, celebrities or salon professionals?
Catwalks lead the way by trends being adopted by celebrities, high-profile people and fashionistas, such as salon professionals. We’re very fortunate in that our International Artistic Team works side-by-side with key designers to develop a hairstyle or color that complements their vision; effectively we’re creating the trend alongside them. Take the AW14 Xiao Li show for example; we colored models’ hair a beautiful shade of pink with label.m’s new Powder Pink Spray, a product now becoming very popular in the salons.

Do you think clients look to fashion for hair color inspiration?
I think clients take inspiration from many sources and look to fashion, celebrity and street style culture for color inspiration. But they also rely on their stylist to advise them on the latest trends and what will look best. It’s an exciting time as the color palette has really increased and shades such as purple, greyish-blue, pink are all having a moment.

What inspires new color techniques and effects for your photographic work?
Everything can inspire a technician, from architecture to nature to artistic techniques. Colorists can look to anything to create beautiful hues and innovative methods.

How does TONI&GUY ensure new color ideas filter through to all its salons?
Education is at the heart of the TONI&GUY brand. We offer up-to-the-minute training in all the latest coloring techniques and products at our academies across the world so our staff can take this knowledge back to their individual salons.

How do TONI&GUY salons encourage clients into color?
It is all about the consultation and understanding client needs. We educate salon professionals so they have the ability to match the client’s needs to the technical skill and expertise we have in salon helping to solve any issues the clients face.

Can a haircut ever be complete without color?
Color makes make a cut ‘pop’ and for our campaigns we always partner a cut and color together. A haircut is not complete without color because it enhances the cut; one doesn’t work without the other; color is key to turning a fantastic look into an incredible one.

By Maria Weijers


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