Brad Johns, Clairol Global color director and artistic director of Avon Salon & Spa, tells the hows and how nots of rejuvenating

Spring always brings with it a sense of excitement, and not just because so many of us are looking forward to saying good-bye to the gray days of winter. There's plenty of buzz in the air this time of year that starts with New York's Fashion Week and intensifies through days of glamorous, high-profile red-carpet events, from the Golden Globes to the Oscars, that take us into the new season.

 Brad Johns
Brad Johns

More than ever, spring is also a great time to get your clients really excited about the warmer, sunnier days ahead, and what that means for their haircolor. I'm a firm believer that haircolor should change at least four times a year. No matter where you live or work you have seasons, and hair should reflect that, becoming lighter and brighter for spring and summer, richer and deeper in fall and winter.

From observing models at Fashion Week and from my work with Clairol, I've noticed a few distinct haircolor trends, all of which contain a beautiful, warmed-up base. The first is one overall color, with no highlights. Obviously, this entails a single-process color, which can be tricky (unless you're going for an iconic look, like Liz Taylor, Marilyn Monroe or Ann-Margret). It must be a warm, beautiful color that is complementary to the client's skin and eyes. Another look we're seeing is a beachy-blonde reminiscent of Reese Witherspoon, with a lightened base and thick highlighted pieces around the front that gives the effect of having spent a month in the sun. This trend definitely requires a lightened base, unless the client has blonde or very light brown hair. A third consists of a lightened base with a multitude of tiny, highlighted pieces throughout the head, resulting in a look that's multicolored, with not much contrast (think of Madonna's rich honey-blonde shade). And while blondes seemed to rule the awards shows, an honorable mention for brunettes goes to Teri Hatcher's gorgeous chocolate-coffee-chestnut brown.

Reese Witherspoon: a beautiful beachy-blonde
Reese Witherspoon: a beautiful beachy-blonde

No matter which approach you take with your clients this spring, always remember that your goal is beautiful, healthy, shiny hair. Shine is what makes hair look alive and healthy, no matter what color it is. The same goes for warmth. Nobody wants to look ashy; they want glowing, healthy skin, and only warm haircolor reflects warmth back into the face.

Here's a tip: You'll know you're doing great color when a client comes back and says, "Everybody loved it, especially my husband, and I found myself wearing less makeup." But if she were to say, "Nobody mentioned my color change, and I've been wearing a lot more makeup," then you need to find out what you artistically didn't do. Here are the most common mistakes I see when it comes to changing color:

  • Copying color, not "translating" it. When a client shows you a photograph she likes of a model or actress, you interpret what the picture has into what the client needs, not make an exact replica of it. The image, plus the client, equals the individual haircolor you create for her.
  • Making the hair too light or too dark. Once you do this and the client is freaked out, she's lost faith in your art and you've upset the whole process of finding the right color for her.
  • Not taking into account the client's job, age, lifestyle and hairstyle. In fact, most problems with haircolor begin in the consultation, either because you didn't listen or you didn't ask the right questions.

A final bit of advice: You're an artist in a service business, so it's important to present yourself accordingly. Service businesses always have a uniform associated with them, and for a reason: to let the client know you're confident and capable, not so insecure that you need to wear a costume. So glam up all you want at night, but be professional at work.