What is it about celebrities’ hair color that makes it so amazing? It’s always healthy and shiny for one. The color looks super natural, even though we know it’s not because it was an entirely different shade a week ago. It’s seamlessly blended—no lines, no stripes, no little blobs. So how do mere mortals achieve red carpet-quality color? For answers, we turned to Matrix Celebrity Stylist George Papanikolas, who routinely tends to the color needs of a long list of superstars and It Girls, like Khloe Kardashian, Hannah Davis Jeter, Miranda Kerr and Madonna. Here are George’s hair color secrets for making every hue paparazzi-ready!
Celebrity Hair Highlights Ideas & Tips
George grew up on the beaches of Southern California, so the natural, sun-kissed looks of his youth influence all of his highlighting work:
- Bayalage Hair Color & Highlights. Modern highlights in Hollywood are usually balayage or hand-painted highlights. One of George’s techniques is to divide the head into sections, backcomb each section and then apply Light Master High-Speed Lightener to the remaining, non-backcombed hair. The lightener is then placed on these fine slices in a v-shape. This produces the most natural-looking highlight.
- Frame the face. Fine highlights positioned around the face and off of the part line will soften the overall color effect.
- Avoid hard lines and regimental stripes. To do this, vary the starting point from section to section, as well as the size and configuration of the highlight.
- Minimize hair color maintenance. Whenever possible, place highlights within the natural base color, which extends the time needed between retouches.
Celebrity Brunette & Brown Hair Color Ideas & Tips
In George’s capable hands, a celebrity inspired brunette hair color is sexy and subtle:
- Avoid the “zebra” effect, a stripe-y look that occurs when uniform highlights are placed in dark hair. Instead, use a color melting technique to highlight dark hair, gradually going from dark at the roots to lighter shades along the center and ends, and carefully blending the color to avoid visible lines of demarcation.
- When highlighting brunette hair color, less is more. You only need a few strategically-placed highlights on midlengths and ends, and a few around the face, for major impact on brown hair.
- Don’t lighten brunette hair color too much. Lifting dark hair more than two or three shades above its natural level can cause it to become too red or brassy. If George has to neutralize unwanted warm tones in brunette hair, he likes to use demi-permanent color. It’s low-ammonia and contains lots of conditioners to preserve the integrity of the hair. He also sends clients home with a neutralizing, brass eliminating shampoo that eliminates dull, yellow tones that can occur over time.
- Reverse hair color with subtlety. Celebrities like to change hair color on a whim. When a blonde client decides to return to her original brunette shade, it can be done by depositing dark color and then re-highlighting the hair. However, it’s safer and subtler to apply heavy lowlights, preserving some of the existing blonde pieces as highlights. The result is a rich, tone-on-tone brunette or brown hair color.
Celebrity Red Hair Color Ideas & Tips
Red carpet inspired red hair is a true art, and George has the inside scoop:
- Boost to avoid brown-out. Vivid red hair color can become dull and brown over time. Regular color glossing formulas that contain red “boosters” keep red ends vibrant and glossy.
- Isolate the roots. Because the hair near the scalp tends to get brighter, adjust scalp formulas to be more subtle.
- Care for color-treated hair is improtant for reds. George insists clients use shampoos and conditioners formulated for color-treated hair!
Celebrity Hair Color For Curly Hair Ideas & Tips
Celebrities have proven that Curly hair looks awesome when it’s colored. Here’s how George achieves this:
- Skip the bleach on relaxed hair. Lightener on top of sodium hydroxide runs the risk of damaging the hair. Instead, lift the hair with a high-lift permanent color, which is gentler, and add a bond repair formula to the color to preserve hair health and integrity. If the hair is smoothed with a keratin smoother, lightener is ok, but apply the highlights a few days before performing the smoothing treatment, since the lightener could strip out the keratin.
- Color for the hairstyle. If the client wears her hair curly and the diameter of the curl is bigger than a pencil, make highlights bold and chunky. If highlights are too fine, they’ll disappear into the curls.
- Smooth curly hair before applying balayage highlights. This will prevent color spotting. Make highlights nice and thick so they show up once the hair is curly again.
Celebrity Men’s Hair Color Ideas & Tips
You think those guys on the red carpet don’t color their hair? Think again! The secret to any men’s color is keeping it real:
- Cover gray hair with care. To avoid a black shoe polish or crazy orange color result, it’s best to blend away gray with a low-ammonia demi-permanent glaze. Demi-permanent hair color fades gradually, so there won’t be any telltale regrowth.
- No stripes allowed. Never highlight shorter side or back sections—it’s impossible to avoid the zebra effect. Concentrate highlights on longer top sections—hand-painted lights are the most natural. Most guys just need a few accent pieces.
- Nothing drastic. As a rule of thumb, it’s best that all men’s hair color—highlights, lowlights, etc.—be just one or two shades lighter or darker than the natural color to avoid startled looks from friends and family!