Brunettes are coming back full force this season. European runways were the first to cross over to the dark side, and American celebrities quickly followed suit. Mary Kate Olsen left the blond look to her sister, Ashley, and took to a dark, luscious brown. Even Lindsay Lohan ditched her red mane for a wash of dark chocolate.
Natural brunettes are also turning away from bleach and embracing their God-given shade, but to avoid looking mousy or bland, they're going to their colorists for added depth and dimension. Linda Yodice, artistic director for John Paul Mitchell Systems, is steering away from extreme highlights and using a more subtle approach to add depth and richness. The key is to achieve a natural look that isn't obviously colored. "Haircolor plays on a lot of different things," she says. "The way the world and society is feeling has plenty to do with how we adorn ourselves." National unrest, says Yodice, is the reason for the popularity of sensible, low-maintenance color.
Patrick McIvor, a master colorist for Redken, takes his inspiration from what he sees on the fashion runway. "We're moving away from the Gisele Bündchen, highlighted look and going more solid," he says. "For the first time since the late '90s, dark chocolate is back and it's more striking."
Beautiful browns start here
Sue Pemberton, Joico's Vero K-PAK Color international artistic director, is taking browns for a dip into the cooler side, inspired by nature. "My inspiration comes from green and red leaves, utilizing opposites on the color wheel to create a unique feeling," says the NAHA 2007 winner for color.
BETTER OFF RED
Red is the least common color in the haircolor spectrum, but it can come in a variety of striking shades, from strawberry blond to magenta. Because only 2 to 6 percent of the American population are natural redheads, they always stand out in a crowd. That's why McIvor suggests that rebellious models and people who want to get noticed go red. "In a room full of people, who do you notice first? The redhead," he says. But not everyone can pull off this color. People with dark olive skin shouldn't make the attempt. Red goes best with fair skin.
According to McIvor, red is going deeper and more saturated for spring—think classic, not so edgy. The last time we saw red like this was in the late '80s and early '90s when Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman were reigning redheads. So why is the look returning?
"The market is ready for reds again," Yodice says. "It's been quite a while." She sees a blend between red and brown shades providing subtle definition and creating a look that is less "in your face."
If your clients want to look naturally red, stay away from cool tones and choose colors similar to Marcia Cross' or Debra Messing's shades instead. But although reds with a blue undertone won't look natural, they can create a distinctive look on the right person. Pemberton says shades of purple, magenta and even pink are the new reds for this season.
Go red with these products
Wella is taking red either bold and deep or romantic and natural. "Colors will be a reflection of one's moods and emotions this season," says Andrea Sercu, senior manager of curriculum development for Wella. "We've seen these trends in haute couture and on the celebrity scene."
Dumb blonde jokes aside, we suspect that almost everyone has harbored a wish to be blond at some point in their lives. Hollywood probably has more blondes per square inch than anywhere else on earth. So who does blond the best there? "Reese Witherspoon is the most striking multitonal blonde in Hollywood," Yodice says. "Her overall single-process color is kissed with a few highlights in the right places, making her the freshest blonde today."
Still, going light should be done with caution. "Picking the perfect blond to match your skin tone is a balancing act of achieving the right degree of lightness and tone to complement the natural undertones," says Scott Cole, artistic director for John Paul Mitchell Systems.
Cole points out that before choosing a shade of blond, clients need to consider the three A's—attention, acknowledgement and approachability. Both he and Yodice are giving clients organic highlights inspired by current trends in architecture, fashion and design. To get this look, they use a sponge applicator to create more movement.
Make blondes brilliant
Brad Johns, color director of Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon and Spa in Manhattan, is known for his believable blondes. This season, however, Johns is doing something he has never done, taking all of his blonde clients down a shade and lightening only the front. He calls the technique "Front Lights." —NATALIE GONZALEZ