Rainbow hair came and kinda went, and we’ve been antsy to hop on another color trend train. The idea of deep emerald, ruby, and topaz as hair colors are about to change our bored-with-pastel lives for the best. Infatuation aside, we couldn’t be fully on board with the bold, beautiful hues before knowing the facts. So we turned to Melinda Miller-Rider, the Andy Lecompte Salon colorist whose gem tone talents are A1, with our mane questions. Like us, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that the rich colors can be less damaging to strands than pastels and neons. Here, Melinda’s pro guide to going gem.
Who’s the ideal candidate?
Someone with darker pigment is better for it, but it depends, because there are so many subtle tones in each gem color family. For example, with greens, you have emerald and jade. Jade is much lighter and there’s less blue in it so it’s going to be flattering on someone that emerald may not be flattering on, and vice versa. It’s hard to say that one specific is best for it, but keep skin tone in mind.
What should someone know before joining the gem tone club?
Green is really hard to get rid of and is hard to cancel out without going red, red. Emerald’s pigment, for example, holds onto the hair really well so if you don’t wanna be green for a really long time, think about doing a blue-green or something veering toward blue rather than yellowy green. Reds are hard to get out too, but not necessarily in permanent, so rubies, garnets, and opals are fine.
Why are gem tones all the rage right now?
It’s easier to create a flattering shade on darker hair. Gem tones are cool, because they have an iridescent quality and that’s part of the reason of layering semi-permanent with permanent because it gives it that metallic, iridescent effect that’s still rich. Also, if the client likes to feel blonde, usually bright colors satisfy that. So if you’re doing a bright emerald on someone whose hair is dark, you don’t have to lift that much pigment out of the hair yet they still feel blonde and fun and bright.
How damaging are these colors?
It depends on what color you’re starting from, but part of the reason gem tones are great for people starting with really dark hair is because they’re less damaging than your pastels and your neons since you don’t have to lift as much. The less you lift, the better off the hair will be.
What kind of maintenance does it require?
It’ll definitely fade quicker than your regular permanent based colors, but it depends how dark the hair is you started from. Say you’re working on a brunette and you’re doing a navy, deep purple or a deep green, you really aren’t lifting that much pigment out of the hair and the contrast between the root and your end color isn’t going to be so stark that they need to come in for a touch-up right away. But it’ll still probably be monthly or every six weeks. Lighter gem tone colors require the most maintenance. So unless you’re two levels within your starting point, you’re going to need to bleach, in which case every 4-6 weeks.
What can someone do to keep their gem tone hair fresh?
I usually send my clients home with a color conditioner that keeps it looking vibrant until their next appointment. To prevent it from quickly fading, use a sulfate-free shampoo and a water-softening shower head (especially in LA, because the water is so hard, it’ll strip your color and turn it really funny colors fast). Stay out of chlorine, and if you have to go in salt water, put conditioner or coconut oil in your hair beforehand so that the salt won’t suck out all the moisture.
What are the best products for maintaining gem tones?
There are things you can do that keep your hair feeling clean without having to shampoo it, like using an apple cider vinegar rinse (3 parts water to 1 part apple cider vinegar). Or Rene Furterer Fioravanti Clarify & Shine Rinse, a vinegar rinse that clarifies the hair and leaves it feeling clean without stripping the color.
What gem tone would you suggest for commitment-phobes?
Some specifically-placed highlights in the gem tone family would be an easier way to wear without committing to doing the whole thing. That way, it’s easier to go back to your natural color after. People are used to seeing themselves a certain way so when you’re placing those gem tones, it’s important to keep their base color next to their face so as not to clash with their skin tone. They’ll feel more comfortable and then, you can amp it up the next time they come in, which is usually what happens.
What gem tone would you suggest for someone who washes their hair everyday?
Colors in the red or purple family usually fade better than blues or greens so rubies, garnets, or amethyst. Greens fade to swampy, yellowy green and blues usually fade to swampy green. If someone who washes their everyday wanted a green or blue, I’d put some sort of violet in it which will cancel out the yellows when it fades.
What gem tones do you get the most requests for?
Because rose quartz was one of the Pantone colors of the year, that’s been really big. Amethyst and purple velvet, especially since Nicole Richie was purple for awhile, are in. So much of trend and hair goes with what’s in media at the moment and that’s part of what makes it fun. You can push people in different directions from what’s really popular at the moment as a starting point. I’m also getting more requests for cobalt. As people get more comfortable with color, they’re willing to try colors they haven’t seen before, so something like a topaz, which is in between a red and a yellow.
What special instruction should one follow before going into the salon for a gem color job?
Don’t wash it for as many days as you can before coming in, because the oil from your scalp will lubricate your hair. Note any medications you’re taking, because that can change the chemistry of your strip-out. Be open with your colorist about previous color jobs. Be honest about your lifestyle because if you wash your hair everyday and you’re not willing to be shampoo-free, it will change how the color fades; and as
a colorist, if I know that, I’ll be able to give you a better service and your hair color will last longer.
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