Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summertime, and the Highlights are Coming…

Highlights are one of the most popular services at our salon, and summer is the season when even the most conservative clients want a bit of brightness, something playful, some dimensional color -- and come in asking for highlights. But be warned: there are good highlights and bad highlights. 

Beyonce, Halle Berry and Star Jones

Now, when I say this, I don’t mean the color. As a master colorist, I know that it isn’t the color that is “bad,” it’s that the color is wrong for the client. Highlights are meant to accentuate, and a good colorist knows that it’s the contrast between the shade of the highlight and the tone of the client’s skin that makes or breaks the look. Here are some examples of good and not-so-good highlights on some of your favorite celebrities.

Black Hair: Beyonce, Halle Berry, and Star Jones

Beyonce’s highlights are thin, beautiful, a glistening deep brown on black, and they compliment her skin tone perfectly. They’re subtle, rich, and her hair looks healthy. This is what we want highlights to do. Halle’s highlights are very stripey, and a caramel color that is very similar to her skin tone, so they wash her out instead of contrasting with her skin. And I have to say that I think her best cut is short. On that face, short hair is just so sexy. Star Jones’ reddish highlights are over a mocha base, and are very brassy. They don’t work with her skin tones or her makeup. These colors would work on someone else, but they just don’t work for Star. 

Multi-Ethnic Hair: Tyra Banks and Nicole Ritchie

Tyra Banks and Nicole Ritchie

Tyra Banks hair looks wonderful. This is a beautiful example of multi-dimensional highlights, with many high- and low-lights creating a multi-tonal look that compliments her coloring and brings out her eyes. As for Nicole Ritchie, I think she looks much better as a brunette. Her hair looks dry and dull, there’s not a lot of light or shine in this look – and this is where highlights can go wrong, when the hair is too damaged and porous, and the too-light color only accentuates it. These highlights do not bring out her lovely golden skin tones, so let’s all hope Nicole opts to go back to the beautiful espresso brown she wore not too long ago. It was stunning.

Dark Brown Hair: Jessica Alba and Eva Longoria

Jessica Alba and Eva Longoria

Jessica Alba’s highlights come up very red, with honey and caramel woven in as well, but it compliments her skin tone and her hair shows up very nicely, full of shine and dimension. With Eva Longoria, I think they didn’t create enough highlights. She needs more brightness around her face. These few highlights weren’t worth the trouble, and they’re brassy. Again, there is no wrong right or wrong color; the color isn’t wrong or bad, it’s just not right for the person. 


Red Hair: Julia Roberts and Lindsay Lohan

Julia Roberts and Lindsay Lohan

Julia’s color is exactly right for her, really bringing out her eyes. I wouldn’t take her one bit lighter. Her highlights are a very warm mix of coppers and reds that bring out her skin tones perfectly. With Lindsay Lohan, I don’t understand how a natural redhead ended up with such an unnatural look. Perhaps it’s all the damage from her constant color changes, but someone tried to put red highlights in her extensions to match her now dyed-red hair. It’s just a mess. She should remove the extensions and see a talented colorist who can gently take her back to her natural color without any further damage to her hair.  

Light-to-Medium Brown Hair: Jennifer Anniston and Carmen Electra

Jennifer Anniston and Carmen Electra

Jennifer Anniston is the Queen of the Multi-Dimensional Highlights. Her hair looks so natural, with the lightest highlights around her face creating a halo effect. Her colorist uses a combination of multiple colors in such thin highlights that it looks as if she’s done nothing. She takes very good care of her hair; it always looks incredibly healthy and shiny. This is what most of my clients aspire to!  At the other end of the spectrum, Carmen Electra’s highlights are very uneven – the top of her hair is brassy, the lower half ashy. There’s no dimension to the color, no variation going on.

Dark-to-Medium Blonde Hair: Reese Witherspoon and Christina Applegate

Reese Witherspoon and Christina Applegate

As a natural blonde, Reese Witherspoon doesn’t have far to go with highlights, and hers are some of the best, a mix of highlights and lowlights that her colorist has created very thoughtfully, and which compliment her skin tone and really bring out her blue eyes. Brava! Christina Applegate’s hair looks fried, she has a couple inches of dark roots, and it appears that one side of her head has more highlights than the other. It’s too much of one color and it washes out her lovely face. I would love to see her with a deeper blonde base and lighter highlights, which would bring out her delicate features and make her overall color stand out more.

If you have or are considering highlights, be sure you are in the hands of a colorist who not only knows how to select and execute the most flattering color for you, but also knows how to protect the health of your hair and, if necessary, repair damage that may already have been done elsewhere. 

If a hair colorist tells you to wait until your hair is in better condition before doing any more highlights, listen to him/her. Have a series of salon treatments to repair the damage. There are a number of excellent reconstructing treatments that will give you excellent results, as will using only professional products prescribed by your colorist. A good hair colorist is someone with the integrity to values the health of your hair over making a few extra dollars on a given day.   

So there you have it. Until next week, ciao!

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