Atelier Benoît Poirier d'Ambreville

Behind The Chair: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Color Formula

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Behind The Chair Magazine– Imagine a miraculous all-purpose hair color formula that fits every client perfectly. Just like the charmed jeans featured in the book and movie, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” this magical mix can adapt to just about any wearer – and flatter her too. Sound like fiction? It isn’t. In fact, several of these seemingly supernatural shades exist. To track down the best of them, we slipped into our tattered True Religions and our battered Mini Cooper and set off on a road trip across the US to visit some of our favorite formulators.

New York: Non-Brassy Brown
Once we crossed the bridge into Manhattan, we immediately got a parking ticket and had to stow our ride in Level Z of a giant parking garage. We hoofed it over to ROY TEELUCK SALON on 57th Street and asked master color specialist BENOIT POIRIER D’AMBREVILLE to let us in on his favorite one-size-fits-all formula. He shared a tip for creating rich, non-brassy browns for a wide range of Asian and Latino clients. D’Ambreville is a devotee of Luo Color from L’OREAL PROFESSIONNEL. The recipe for this formula is: 1/2 tube of level 6.07; 1/4 tube of 5.1; and 1/4 tube of 7.1. This is mixed with the only developer used with Luo Color, a 25-volume and processes for 20 minutes. “The result is luminous and reflective, like rich fabric moving on the runway,” says D’Ambreville. For those who want to hold onto their color longer, Roy Teeluck Salon offers custom-made shampoos that include the client’s actual color formula. Teeluck says that these suds can tide clients over until they come in for a refresher.

Los Angeles: Light Blonde
We only had to drive ten blocks before handing our keys to the valet at luxurious UMBERTO SALON on stylish Canon Drive, where we chatted with colorist JUSTINE BEECH. “Right now, girls with all levels of hair are coming in asking for the blondes they see on ‘Girls Next Door,” she says. You got it right. The latest style makers are the wannabe-bunnies featured in the E! reality show filmed at Hugh Hefner’s Beverly Hills mansion. “We call them our Hef girls,” says Beech. Although the bleached-out look (and lifestyle concept) may be old school, the technique Beech uses isn’t. She avoids the double-process route and turns to REDKEN Double Fusion Double Blonde, because she sees it as an equal opportunity blonder. “This product can lift anything from dark, coarse, Asian hair to naturally ashy blonde hair, without any damage” says Beech. For future centerfolds who want a warmer look, Beech opts for Gb, a cozy gold/beige blonde. For those who prefer a platinum finish, she uses Ab, an ash/blue. Both are mixed with Redken 40 volume Pro-Oxide Cream Developer, at a 1:2 ratio of color to developer. The only thing that varies is the processing time. Beech says clients with naturally low levels get 40 minutes, while paler heads need only ten. But we’re sure they’d be comfy exposing themselves much longer.

Las Vegas: Dark Blonde
After puttering through the desert with the AC going full blast, we were happy to see the glow of the Strip on the horizon. We cruised by the Luxor pyramid, refreshed ourselves with a Perrier in the shade of the Eiffel Tower, and were feeling pretty worldly by the time we reached CENTENNIAL HILLS SALON & SPA. The artistic director, TESHA RANKIN, let us in on a formula for keeping dark blondes cool – no surprise in a city where Freon is as important as the water supply. For the ultimate chill, she starts out with AVEDA Full Spectrum Permanent Hair Color 7N, a dark blonde, and then adds the “freeze factor”: 2 grams of Dark Blue/Green pure tone. “The result is a neutral dark blonde, not too gold or warm, without any red,” says Rankin. The mix works for gray coverage, and can also be used on anyone who is a natural level four through seven. “Depending on the developer you choose, you can lift hair to a neutral brown or blonde,” says Rankin. She opts for anything from 10 to 40-volume, resulting in one to four levels of lift. The color is placed all over and processes 35 minutes. When Rankin wants to achieve the same effect on clients who are outside the four to seven range, she turns to other Aveda standbys. Level three locks get doused in Aveda Full Spectrum Deep 12N with 4 grams of Light Yellow/Orange pure tone. For tresses on the opposite end of the spectrum, she turns to Eclipse Aveda Shades of Enlightenment high lift hair color.

Chicago: Natural Red
A couple of days, and a lot of ranchland scenery later, we found ourselves back in urban environs. We were thrilled to see skyscrapers instead of steer, and the Mini was happy to no longer be the smallest car on the road (the plain states tend to be dominated by F150s). We happily navigated our way through the grid of streets to chic ROQUE SALON in Chicago. We knew we recognized color director SCOTT PATRICK from somewhere, and then it came back to us that we’d seen him work his magic on television makeover shows. He told us about a red that rocks, and will work on any client as long as she has the skin tone to carry it off. “The key is to use this on someone who has a fair complexion, the freckle-face type,” he says. “With reds, you really have to take this into account, or it looks too unnatural.” This fall, for any red-wannabe who has the “right stuff,” Patrick is using a formula from WELLA Koleston Perfect: a ratio of three-fourths 6/0, a dark blonde, and one-fourth 6/34, a deep copper gold. “The key with red formulas is to always use a little less red, and a little more natural,” says Patrick. “This means you won’t end up with a flaming red that looks too ‘box.'” Apply from roots to ends and process 30 minutes. “When you pull it through, use Wella Color Touch Shine Enhancing Color in 0/34, an orange concentrate,” says Patrick.

Boston: Just-Right Highlight
Clutching our newly-purchased Red Sox pennant, we screeched to a stop in front of VIDAL SASSOON SALON, where we sat down with senior colorist LAUREL ELLIOTT. She’s the darling of the city’s highlight crowd, and has been voted “best in Beantown” by the readers of Boston Magazine for the past three years. So what is Elliott’s secret to being the city’s most popular painter? Her “go-to” foil technique consists of using two separate color formulas on one head. The first is a basic bleach with 20-volume. The second is Wella Koleston Perfect 12/0 Special Pure Blonde with 40-volume developer. “It’s a neutral level 12 and the lightest blonde you can get before bleach,” Elliott says. Her two-pronged approach makes clients happy because, “The combination keeps the final results from looking either too white or too gold all over.” To apply, Elliott alternates the formulas in every other foil – except around the face. “People want to see lots of blonde there,” she says. So, to frame features, she switches things up – placing two bleach-filled foils for every one that contains the level 12 mixture. “This method works on brunettes to blondes, even if they have been pre-lightened,” says Elliott. “It’s even ideal for redheads looking for a little kick.”

Atlanta: Auburn
We expected a little Southern hospitality at FRESCHE SALON, and it’s exactly what we got. Owner JOI ROOKS shared her favorite way to color clients who are anywhere from a natural level 5 to 8. She uses three different formulas and foils them into hair back-to-back. The darkest is Wella Koleston Perfect 6/7 with 10-volume peroxide. “It’s a rich velvet blonde but really comes out like a warm, light brown,” says Rooks. The medium shade is Wella Koleston Perfect 7/34 with 20-volume peroxide, a warm copper gold which Rooks describes as a “golden red.” The lightest is Blondor Lightening Powder with Wella Koleston Perfect Creme Developer 10-volume (3%). To apply, Rooks divides hair into quadrants and starts at the base of the head, taking one-inch sections. She alternates the lighter shade between the dark and medium one. The whole head is covered with foils, except for a one or two inch radial section at the high point of the head. “In this area, I create a halo effect by leaving the client’s natural color as it is, or applying a veil of color in a lighter or darker shade,” said Rooks. “The result is a beautiful gold/red/brown blend, and I’ve actually gotten referrals from it.” Rooks adds that you can use this application method for other formula trios – so you can adapt it for just about anyone.

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