A blonde fashionista goes blonder.A star colorist analyzes why we go lighter, darker - and a little crazy - in the salon chair. By Kyle White as told to Ning Chao
There's a reason
why one of the first things fugitives do when they're on the run is dye
their hair: Hair color is an identity-when you change it, you can become
a different person. Fugitives tend to go dark because they want to hide
and disappear, while most celebrities tend to go lighter and lighter
because they crave the constant spotlight.
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In fact, a lot of clients come to see me when they're going through
life changes. Sometimes it actually helps bring out what she's feeling
inside-or how she wants to feel. What else can you do in two hours that
completely transforms you (but that can be undone, unlike plastic
surgery)? I see so many women drastically changing their color at the
end of a relationship that I've coined it the "breakover"-instead of a
makeover. I think it's an intricate part of the healing process. The
right hair color can give confidence, enhance your mood, and make you
feel sexy again. I don't have scientific proof, but I know people feel
better when they get up from my chair.
When Tinsley Mortimer was going through her divorce, we decided to
take her platinum. Tinsley likes to be noticed and wanted a pick-me-up.
She's told me that getting her hair colored "is like sunlight-the
brighter it is, the happier I feel!" Her natural color is actually a
medium brown, but she said she's always felt like a blonde. A lot of
people feel they're trapped in the wrong hair color.
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When another colorist botched up my client's hue, she had to go to her
therapist and double up on her meds. When I fixed it, my client told me
she felt like I had removed a cancer from her body! Another high point
of my career was when Charlize Theron came into the salon right after
she'd finished filming Monster. Her hair was an ugly, mousy brown, but
as soon as I did her first highlight, I saw her transform. When she
left, she gave me a hug and said, "You made me feel like a woman again."
In my chair, blonde is by far the most requested shade-and that's
mainly from my clients' husbands. Very rarely will a boyfriend or
husband say, "Will you make her a brunette?" Most of them ask, "Can you
make her really, really blonde?" An exception is Mariah Carey. Nick
Cannon likes her to be on the darker side. And whenever she has
downtime, she prefers it, too. But that wasn't always the case. When I
first met Mariah, she was a deep brunette, but once she trusted me, she
wanted to go lighter-just in time for the launch of her first Def Jam
album in 2002. Four years later, right before her Emancipation of Mimi
tour, I added some bright blonde pieces around her face so she would
have more pop onstage. Without a doubt, the changes in her hair color
have followed her career.
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That's why I'm so hesitant to make someone darker if they've been
blonde for a while. I have to give them a psychological evaluation to
make sure they're in it for the right reasons. If they're doing it
because they don't want to deal with cost or maintenance, it's
criminal-like going to rehab for drugs instead of jail. Sooner or later,
they'll be back on the bleach.
Don't get me wrong-dark can be beautiful, sexy, and mysterious. But
when you've been fair-haired for a long time, it's hard to see yourself
without the brightness around your face. You just feel washed out. If a
client is serious about the change, I'll usually do it in stages so it's
not so overwhelming.
I learned that lesson early on in my career, when a client came in
right after she had a baby. She was convinced she wanted to go back to
brunette. So I dyed her hair, and as I was drying it, she took one look
in the mirror, grabbed the brush out of my hand, tossed it at the
mirror, and said: "How can I leave looking like this? You have to change
it back to the way it was!" She was traumatized. I spent all day taking
her back to blonde. She apologized in the end, but it goes to prove
that hair color is not something you should just jump into on a whim. My
advice: Try on a wig with the new color first. If you like the look and
are ready to commit, call me!
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