19 May 2022

All About Color! Up Close and Personal with Iconic Colorist Sonya Dove

Wella Global Top Stylist and Ulta Pro team member @sonyadove is one of the most respected color artists/educators in the world. Estetica had the pleasure of getting together with Sonya, and we’re thrilled to share our exclusive interview with you!


1. As a colorist I am… blessed and grateful that my chosen craft has given me the ability to stand on my own two feet and travel the world and meet other like-minded people. Unfortunately I left school with no qualifications so I was so lost about what I should have as a career.

2. The thing I value the most about specializing in color is… mastering the ability to be able to keep changing someone’s personality by changing their color often without sacrificing their hair condition. It still blows me away how different colors on a person can create different personalities. I love explaining a color that I would like to achieve by taking real everyday things. It also allows me to use my down to earth sense of humor when describing color to my clients – like Red Wine, Cappuccino, Cinnamon, etc. I guess that’s where my love of food and drinking comes in.

3. A colorist should always have… a good understanding of the basic color wheel, their favorite color brushes and an authentic, caring personality so they can advise whether a certain color is going to suit the clients, skin tone and eye color… Oh, and also patience and a good listening ear!

4. The trend that never should have existed… chunkey highlights like strips. In England we would call it zebra crossing lines when you can walk across a road safely. For me that analogy is so visual as its black and white and stripy highlights are so 80’s… thank goodness!

5. What I love about Wella haircolor is… that it’s true to tone, conditioning, has a large palette of colors to choose from and that it’s always ahead in innovation and trends. And the reds!!!!!!!!!!!

6. If I wasn’t a colorist I would be… a nutritionist advising people what to eat concerning a health issue. Unfortunately I would not have lead by example as I like to eat meat very often and I drink red wine every night!!! I am sure there are many unhealthy nutritionists and fuller figured dietitians.

7. If I could change a well-known person’s look it would have to be… for sure the Queen of England. I would love to color her hair a beautiful soft pastel blonde… or just for fun: use her white hair to add some bright direct dye tones, slightly Unicorn! I don’t think the rest of the Royal Family would approve except her grandchildren. When I am at Buckingham Palace next for a cup of tea, I will ask her 😉 Maybe it could be your next front cover!!!

8. The most special colorist moment I’ve recently had is… taking Sophie Turner (Sansa) from Game of Thrones from a redhead for many years to a very light blonde. It is such a pleasure to have done this and I still color her hair for Wella North America. She truly is such a down-to-earth person and overtime I see her we always have such a lot of fun.

9. The most challenging moment has been… when a guest brings in Pinterest pictures of what she would like and usually it’s not realistic for the amount of time they have and for the amount of money they want to pay. I explain to them that the person in front of me is far more important to me than the person in the picture. I really enjoy consultations and spend a lot of time on them, I guess I am a big chatterbox!

10. I can’t work without my… apron! Because of its pockets which hold my glasses, phone for social media moments, favorite combs for foiling and a pack of mints. Ladies clothes are lacking in pockets usually…

11. I believe the future of color is headed to… being more environmentally conscious, maybe organic… but that’s difficult as Henna is organic and you never know! Also the introduction of CBD being added to products is something interesting to me.

12. Before retiring I would like to… do creative retreats for hairdressers in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. They would be a combination of food, wine, nature and art with my guidance so that I can help unleash their own personal inner creativity.

13. My main source of inspiration is… Nature. I’m a huge outdoors person and everyday I’m blown away by Mother Nature. I try and take short breaks to get off the grid whenever I can, just to be quiet… and this is when I am most inspired. That’s why I love Burningman and outdoor music festivals.

14. A color trend I would like to see come back is… the one in the early 80s in London where people would crop their hair short, so it was about half and inch long then have a geometric pattern shaved in it with clippers, and then it was colored multicolored. It was like a Mondrian art piece and so creative and artistic.

15. My specialty when it comes to color is… a work smarter not harder approach to color and having simple placement, which produces maximum results. I love hair colors that have between 2 to 4 depths of the same tone within one head. I guess I am known for my reds… but I love all colors!

16. What I value most about my team is… that we all have a deep respect for each other’s talent and we can tackle our fears as a team, which will make us grow to the next level. Team is very important to me as I have an intense love for people.

17. What I dislike the most about specializing in color… is that some heads of hair just will not take any more color and the guests do not want to hear “no” but sometimes they need a good cut and conditioning treatment first. I have to bear that bad news quite often as guests sometime think I have a magic wand.

18. My journey with color began because… many years ago the CEO of Wella asked some artists to pick cut or color. At the time I was working with Christopher Dove and we simply just picked a subject: Christopher chose cutting and myself color, so on stage that’s what we spoke about… but ironically we both did everything in the salon.

19. My favorite technique at the moment is… being able to use color to contour or change a person’s face shape. Deeper colors narrow the face and lighter colors add volume. This philosophy can be pastels, blondes, brunettes, vintage tones, reds… in fact, all colors!

20. My color mentor is… Candy Shaw! Not only for her passion for education, her simplistic approach to color, the fact that she’s a woman manufacturer, a salon owner… but MOST of all a good personal friend of mine.

21. Unforgettable color advice is… don’t put all your color ideas on one head! Choosing only one idea will look far greater. I was this person when I first started – I’d have so many ideas and could never choose one, so I’d do it all but it looked like everything was on the head including the kitchen sink 😉

22. Education for a colorist is… imperative. First having a strong understanding of the brand you use and it idiosyncrasies, keeping up with new innovations that come out and to have knowledge of what hair color trends are at that time.

23. I love that my career has given me… the opportunity to travel the world and meet incredibly talented people who have contributed to the person I am today. I feel very blessed and grateful. I am a HUGE supporter of Beauty Changes Lives as I love what this career has given me.

24. What I want to share with budding painters is… always remember that you are perfect as you are, so don’t try to be someone else. Being someone else takes a lot of energy – so better use that energy to follow your dreams and paint the world as you see it, with your own unique and authentic voice.


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