August 16, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Everybody reads the same magazines and watches the same shows,” says Lindsay Duer-Robertson, a stylist at Matt Wayne Salon off of 49th and Dodge streets. “That ends ups with people looking a lot alike. Someone who sees that and wants to make a statement will try something different.”

That “statement” for you could be anything from a few blonde highlights to neon pink. But it’s perfectly okay if you don’t know yet where you land on that spectrum. Rebecca Forsyth, stylist at Bungalow/8, says that’s what consultation visits are for. And make sure to bring pictures of anything that’s caught your eye.

“I think there’s this myth that hairstylists don’t like photos,” Forsyth says. “A Pinterest board on a phone is super helpful.” Both Duer-Robertson and Forsyth agree with the oft-quoted hairstylists’ phrase: “My caramel is probably different than your caramel.”

Let’s say you’ve decided to go from brunette to hot pink. “You can do it in one visit, but that visit’s going to be six to eight hours long,” Duer-Robertson says. Best to have a goal in mind and break it up over a period of time. That’ll give your hair time to recover from the processing, which is pretty intense. The bleaching process has to break the melanin molecules in the hair and expose different pigments through several stages: brunette, red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, and finally a pale yellow. Only then is your hair ready to accept an unreal shade like ocean blue or pastel purple.

“I think there’s this myth that hairstylists don’t like photos.” – Rebecca Forsyth, stylist at Bungalow/8

“Be mindful, your hair will be really dry,” Duer-Robertson warns. She recommends a protein-based conditioner. “In that first week, put in a leave-in conditioner after every wash.” She personally touts the Damage Remedy and Dry Remedy lines from Aveda, especially the Color Conserve™ Daily Color Protect conditioner. “That’ll keep your color strong up to 30 days,” she says, though pastel shades still may not keep as long as a month.

Such conditioners are valuable, Duer-Robertson says, because the product seals hair cuticles down after being a little roughed up by a cleansing shampoo. Leave a conditioner on for at least 15 minutes (unless it’s a leave-in, of course), and then rinse it out with cool water to ensure the cuticle doesn’t reopen. Consider using a wide-tooth comb to lessen stress on your hair when it’s wet; once your hair is about 80 percent dry, feel free to take a brush to it for a blowout.

Forsyth says it’s the flatiron that’s the huge culprit for further damaging processed hair. The heat is higher and touches the hair for a longer period of time than a simple blow dryer. “If you can achieve a great look with a blow dryer and a brush, you’re in a great situation as far as damage,” Forsyth points out. “I love that more people are wearing their natural styles and textures.”

If you just can’t leave the hot tools alone, remember that the general rule is the less styling, the less shampooing, the better. “Try to find ways that you don’t have to mess with your hair as much,” Forsyth says. “For example, last night I curled my hair, so today I have the base for a really cool updo.” She personally shampoos only twice a week.

For high-maintenance color like neons, pastels, or reds, Forsyth agrees with Duer-Robertson that it’s essential to invest in good product. Some of her favorite products for maintaining perfect color are in Karasoft’s color protection line. “And anything with UV protection,” Forsyth adds. “We blame the shampoo and forget that we’re in the sun all the time. Bring back hats, not just for protecting our faces but also our hair.”