This Girl Changed Her Haircolor 25 Times in 3 years. Here’s Why…

Stephanie was my salon house model from 2009 until last December. During that period she became a chameleon of styles and colors. Every salon visit was an opportunity for me to be an artist with her hair. She never flinched when I said “let’s go lavender and short today!” or “how about pink?”. This year Stephanie has left Seattle to experience change bigger than her hair. She is now traveling through Asia. I thought this would be the perfect time to reflect on her past looks.

To many of us how we look is such an ingrained part of our identity we are hesitant to go for big changes regularly. I wanted to get Stephanie’s take on her 3 year experience as a hair stylists muse. What did she love? What didn’t work, and how did each look effect how others perceived her. Read on to hear her response.

Why were you so open to change with your hair?

” I don’t think I’ve ever obsessed over my hair. Before I started working with you, I would get a haircut once or twice a year. The only two looks I ever really went with were ‘long’ or ‘short’. I also had never dyed my hair, mainly because in my family being a natural blonde was part of my familial identity – my sisters and I were the “Neapolitan” sisters, with my older sister being a natural redhead and my little sister being a natural brunette. I think I just reached a point where I was bored with my hair and ready for a drastic change, so when you asked “How would you feel about going red?” I immediately replied “Sounds good to me!”

The first color we put on you was red. How did it make you feel and effect where you were in life?

“I loved becoming a redhead! It felt like I had donned a whole new persona, as though I could be whomever I wanted to be. The timing of it was apt, too, in that I had just gotten a new job after a long period of unemployment due to the recession. I was starting a new chapter in life and putting a very difficult time behind me, and the new hair color helped give me confidence to embrace all the great opportunities I was coming across.”

How did constantly changing your cut and color affect how people viewed you?

“I think one of my favorite parts of making drastic hair changes is how people respond. When I moved here from Georgia I was a super shy wallflower who did NOT like to draw attention to myself. Changing your hair makes it an instant talking point, and made me a lot more approachable to people – it eventually became a game at work where people would try to guess what color I would go with next. The more extreme the style, the more people I had coming up to me to tell me how much they loved my hair. The only person who ever expressed dislike for my hair was my mother, who was convinced that boys would never want to talk to a girl with a mohawk. I tried to tell her I got hit on more when I had a mohawk than when I had my long blonde hair, but that didn’t change her mind. Oh well.”

Which style was your favorite?

“The mohawk!! More specifically the blush pink mohawk. I was surprised by how much I loved that hairstyle. I was so nervous to get it – I wasn’t sure I could pull it off and I also wasn’t sure how my employer would respond to it. I still can’t believe the positive feedback I received from my bosses as well as my more conservative clients.”

Which style was your least favorite?

“My current cut. I knew that for traveling I wanted to tone down my look – I wouldn’t have room for any hair products in my backpack and I wanted to blend in as much as possible. It’s exactly what I asked for and you did an awesome job, but after several years of fun colors and styles, going back to a blonde bob feels really tame and no longer representative of who I am as a person.”

As Stephanie was preparing to head off to Asia we needed to create a look that worked for travel. It needed to be easy to maintain and she is traveling alone so she needed to blend in more than stand out. While it isn’t her favorite look it will certainly fit the bill. Safe travels and best hair wishes Stephanie! Until we get you back in the salon….

Stephanie's final look as she heads off on new travels.

Stephanie’s final look as she heads off on new travels.

If you’d like to follow Stephanie as she explores Thailand and the surrounding area follow her blog: www.thewayfaringwriter.com

Changing Your Identity with Hair Color: Are you ready for the challenge?

Tiffany "The Blonde"Meet Tiffany. Tiffany has been one of my best friends for over 20 years. Tiffany is a blonde. I’m not using this as a discriptor as much as I am using it as a title. Tiffany is “A Blonde”. It’s her identity, philosophy and lifestyle. Two years ago we took her from a dimensional foiled blonde to a full on platinum blonde. She LOVED it. When she walked in a room you couldn’t help but turn to look at her. Blonde is an attention grabbing color. Why do you think so many Hollywood celebrities take on this look? Unfortunately, after two years of heavy lightening every three weeks, her hair surrendered. It couldn’t take the demand of such intense treatments. It weakened, and became damaged beyond repair. Tiffany had to make a decision: change her hair color or cut off the damaged ends into a short haircut. Both of which were the kiss of death to her identity. Here’s where the journey to her new identity began….

The Consultation (Intense Therapy)

If Tiff couldn’t be platinum blonde, she wanted to find a new color that would still “pop.” She started to talk to me about becoming strawberry blonde like Nicole Kiddman. My concern with this choice was her skin tone. Tiffany has a pink complexion, and pink skin tones look best when complimented by cool colors. (Warm tones make the pink stand out more.) I also needed to make sure that my client and best friend understood that whatever choice she made, she would have to stick with it. Her hair was in no condition to handle  re-lightening. Of course, explaining this is difficult. Since seeing is believing, I decided to take Tiff on a field trip to prove my point.

A Wig Shopping We Will Go

I asked Tiffany to meet me at a beauty supply store that carries tons of wigs. Here we chose wigs of different tones of red for her to try on. It became immediately clear that strawberry blondes were a miss. They didn’t compliment her skin tone and they provided no “pop.” Then she tried on a dark cool cherry red. It was perfect! Initially Tiffany would have never thought to go from lightest blonde to this strong red, but getting to “test drive it” first gave her a whole new insight on the possibility. At my suggestion, Tiff bought the wig to take home so she could warm up to her potential new look.

Decision Time

I checked in with Tiffany 3 days after the wig purchase to see how it was going. She had experienced mixed reviews from her husband and friends. Remember, Tiffany’s blonde was a signature statement for her, so a new hair color not only changes the way she views herself, but also affects the way people see her. We discussed how it was important that she love the choice and to be ready for further mixed reviews. At the end of our conversation, she was ready to commit. Tiffany was going red!

The Process

In an earlier post, I documented my client, Christin, going from brown to peach. Christin and Tiffany’s processes both fall under a color correction service. Many times we see celebrities go through extreme color changes in what seems like overnight. I think it’s important to recognize the investment of time and money, as well as the value of working with a colorist who understand the importance of maintaining the hair’s health and integrity through this service. We took pictures of Tiffany’s entire journey to red so you could understand the process.

Step 1: Pre-Tre

Before we could apply any color, I performed two different protein treatments on Tiff’s hair. When hair has been extremely lightened, it needs protein to strengthen it. Additionally, the protein gives the color something to hold on to. If we skipped these protein treatments, the color would have a hard time looking dimensional and fall out in the first few shampoos. Redken CAT treatment was applied first, then followed by a Redken Chemistry Strength shot and sealed with a 3.5 pH spray.

Step 2: The First Fill ProcessFirst Fill

In the salon world we use numbers to refer to lightness and darkness and color as the tone. Our goal for Tiffany was to achieve a level 6 Red. If I applied a level 6 red on her blonde hair as the first color step, the end result would be flat, chalky and pink. This is because red needs yellows, golds, and oranges to give it vibrancy. To build these colors in the hair, it must be done in layers, a process we call “filling” the hair. A fill formula is a color application designed to put base tones in the hair that will support the final color. Each layer is applied and processed like a traditional color application. For the first fill, I chose a Redken Shades EQ gloss with copper and warm gold tones.

Step 3: More Protein

Firs Fill Result

After the fill formula processed for 20 minutes, I shampooed it and followed up with another protein treatment to continue to prepare the hair for more color.

Step 4: Second Fill Formula

Second Fill Application For the second fill formula, I chose more copper and gold tones with a little bit of red. Shades EQ cream was the perfect choice for its low alkalinity, but rich deposit.

Step 5: More Protein
Are you seeing a pattern here? Protein is a big deal in color correction!

Second Fill Result

Step 6: Final Formula ApplicationFinal Color Application
After two fill processes, I had built up a warm base to support the final red color we wanted. For the final formula I went with Redken Chromatics. This is a permanent color with no ammonia. That means is will give a rich deposit and is gentle on Tiff’s hair. Chromatics uses an oil delivery system which also helps to reduce future breakage in hair. I love the Reds in this line because they are strong, vibrant and dimensional. I applied the color from roots to ends and let it process for 35 minutes.

Step 7: Last Treatment
For the last treatment, I blended protein with a color sealer to lock in Tiffany’s new hue.

The end result: beautiful show- stopping red! This picture barely does the color justice. I added a second picture Tiffany took of herself the next day! Guaranteed to make you notice.Final Red!

Tiffany’s hair looked and felt amazing. It was worth every effort to get such a beautiful end result. Tiffany was so excited with the finished look. From start to finish, this was a 5-hour process. If I had skipped a treatment or fill, I would have sacrificed this awesome end color. For color correction services, I charge by the hour to ensure that every step is included.

Changing your identity with hair color can be scary. If you are known as a striking blond, rich brunette or fiery red head, it can be life altering to you and those who know you when you make that change. Take the time to research what you want. Try on wigs in the color you are considering and work with an experienced colorist who can be honest with you about the expectations, maintenance, and end result. It can be one of your biggest and exciting life adventures.

And this is Tiffany now:

Tiffany's New Identity

A transformed and gorgeous “redhead”!