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Everything You Need to Know About Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year

In case you missed it, Pantone announced its 2019 hair color of the year: Living Coral, “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.” Naturally, we’re curious to know how this vibrant hue could play into hair so we went to Maryland-based color pro Megan Schipani with all our questions. Ahead, she shares who the ideal candidate is for the Living Coral shade, the pros and cons of committing to coral, how to incorporate the color in a subtle way, and more. Keep reading to find out if the Living Coral hue is right for you.


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Who’s the ideal candidate for living coral? 

One of my favorite things about coral is that it’s peach and pink-based which I feel like are universally flattering tones. You can tweak whether or not the coral has cooler or warmer undertones depending on the client’s skin tone. Since the hair has to be lightened to a level 8 or higher, medium brown to blonde starting color will probably be best. It is not impossible to achieve this color if your hair is a level 6 or lower, dark brown. However it might take multiple sessions for you to achieve this look while maintaining the integrity of the hair. It is ultimately up to the stylist to use their best judgment to make sure the client’s hair is healthy enough for the required lightening service. Other than that, anyone can have it.

How damaging would this color be for a brunette?

It wouldn’t be any or more less damaging than your regular lightening service. There is always a risk of damage when it comes to lightening, and the integrity of the hair will change a little bit, but there are so many bond builders and additives available to protect the hair while lightening. As long as your client is educated on how to take care of lightened hair at home, they shouldn’t experience anything abnormal. That being said, a stylist should always use their best judgment based on what their client comes in with. They could always go with a balayage as well if they don’t want to lighten their full head. I think a brunette base with coral accents would be super beautiful. It depends on your client’s lifestyle and maintenance level. All of these things can be discussed and a good consultation in the beginning of their appointment is key.

Is living coral a color that would fade fast?

Any color that is pink based tends to fade beautiful, but pretty quickly. One of the best ways to maintain this at home is to have your colorist mix you up a custom refresher for at home care. One of the blessings of the quick fade of the coral is that it is pretty easy to take out or cancel out if your client wants a color change. This is also a nice benefit if you are just dipping your toe into the world of creative color.

What shampoo, conditioner, and treatment mask would be best for at-home daily care?

I llove to recommend my client a color safe shampoo and conditioner catered to their hair type. One of my favorite go-to shampoo and conditioners is the Amika Normcore Signature Shampoo and Conditioner. It is universally appropriate for most hair types. I always recommend a deep treatment after any bleaching service. It is also the perfect opportunity for you to cocktail a custom-colored mask for your client to treat their hair while refreshing their color. For this cocktail, simply pick your favorite mask and add your favorite coral DIRECT DYE formula to it. Remember that the conditioner will dilute it a lot so make sure you add enough to make an impact. One of my favorite masks is the Wella Brilliance Treatment Mask. I usually scoop about half the tub of it out into a jar and mix with direct dye until I reach the desired shade. This is also a fun opportunity to create a personal finishing touch on your service. Pick out a cute jar and write your client’s name on it or a fun little note.

Since living coral isn’t the most practical hue, what’s a chic way to incorporate it into my hair without fully committing to the color?

A coral balayage could be a fun way to dip your toe into this hue without diving into a full head of coral hair. One of the nice things about this color and formula is that it fades out to a beautiful blonde. You can wear the tone for a little while and then you are left with a beautiful natural toned balayage. A balayage can be catered to your individual needs and can range from light to heavy on the amount of lightening and the placement according to your specific needs and wants.

What would be your go-to color formula to achieve living coral?

My go-to formula for lightening is always Schwarzkopf Blonde Me Lightener with 20 Volume Developer. I  never reach for higher than 20 volume when lightening. I rely on heavy, even saturation and foiled or insulation if I need a boost when working with dark hair. For the coral look I like to lift to a level 8 or 9 where there is still an underlying bit of yellow and warmth in the hair. After lifting, I like to use 15 grams of Apricot Blonde Me Toner, 15 grams Strawberry Blonde Me Toner with 15 grams each of Igora Color Worx in Pink and Orange all mixed with 7 volume developer.

Don’t get your hair colored before reading this first

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