Celebrity Hair Color Breakdown – A Master Colorist Tells All


While certain hair color trends will likely never lose favor in the celebrity set um, blonde others tend to swoop in and out of style (Crayola colored hues). We asked Ellie Coates, one of the master colorists at the popular Arrojo studio to help us break down the current crop of celebrity hair colors.

Recent forbearers: Rihanna, Kelly Osbourne
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Photo: Christopher Polk, Getty Images

Rihanna changes her hair color and cut with astounding frequency. Her latest color endeavor is fire-engine red which Coates says is actually easy to achieve on dark hair without causing major damage. To get the look pre-lighten hair until its red orange and use a strong color like Manic Panic or Special Effects, says Coates. The red can be refreshed at home in between root touch-ups if you mix it with a little conditioner. Just remember to wear gloves!

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Photo: Danny Martindale, WireImage

Kelly Osbournes violet gunmetal shade may be edgy, but it also has an unexpected sophistication about it. It reminds me of some of the pastel blondes from the 60s, she says. A double process blonde would be the first step, then its up to your imagination. Mix color concentrates with conditioners to create these pastel looks; just be sure to use a color-safe or sulfate-free shampoo because these shades are very delicate and fade easily.

Recent forbearer: Kristen Stewart
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Photo: Donna Stewart, Getty Images

Kristen Stewart and, even more recently, Michelle Williams have both gone red for upcoming roles. Since their red is not of the fire-engine variety, Coates claims it is far more wearable and easy to manage. Adding some brown to the formula keeps it from glowing, she advises. Highlighting red hair can be tricky too, if the highlights are too light they can look too streaky, and red and yellow. During the summer months a color-safe shampoo is an absolute essential for anyone rocking the rouge hue.

Recent forbearers: Julia Restoin, Vanessa Hudgens, Zooey Deschanel, Nicole Richie, Katy Perry
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L to R: Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Vanessa Hudgens. Photos: George Pimentel, FilmMagic | Jason LaVeris, FilmMagic

Amid the sea of Hollywood blondes and highlights, the few and the brave who choose to remain on the dark side are immediate stand-outs. For all these dark looks a rich all-over base color is key, says Coates. To make the color look saturated and luxurious, a gloss or glaze really kicks up the shine. It also keeps the ends refreshed when the root is touched up leaving the color even and uniform from root to tip.

Recent forbearers: Erin Wasson, Lauren Conrad, Rachel Bilson, Atlanta de Cadenet
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L to R: Lauren Conrad and Rachel Bilson. Photos: Jason LaVeris, FilmMagic | Todd Williamson, WireImage

Much like in fashion, ombre refers to dyeing in a way that achieves a pale-to-dark color gradation. Its hair color that looks a bit lived-in. And according to Coates there are a couple of ways to achieve this low-maintenance graduated color. Erin Wassons color is a more natural beachy look that you can get by lightening the ends and then painting on a darker root, staggering the placement to create depth, she explains. The trick is to make sure the transition from dark to light is seamless or it will look choppy. The best part is that once the ends are light, they stay that way; no touch-ups needed. To switch it up you can also put a toner on the ends to make it a cooler or warmer blonde.

If you want a graduated look that is less dramatic and contrasty, Coates suggests asking your colorist to use a freehand technique like flying colors or balayage on the ends to just give a hint of lightness. Or, should you not want to dye at all, just fake it. Lauren Conrad has the quickie version: extensions! Same effect, but not permanent.

Recent forbearers: Michelle Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Naomi Watts, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Bosworth, Cameron Diaz
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Michelle Williams. Photo: Jean Baptiste Lacroix, WireImage

Blonde will always be big in Hollywood, and during the summer months it is more appealing than ever. Michelle Williams may have just gone strawberry, but the platinum hue she debuted at Cannes this year is still on peoples minds. Hers is a great technique of mixing warm and cool shades together to create an unexpected result, Coates says. Its still super blonde but it has a depth and texture.

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Kirsten Dunst. Photo: Fred Duval, FilmMagic

Dunsts blonde, on the other hand, is likely a really heavy highlight with lightener, which allows for a softer re-growth. But Coates points out that it will take a while to get your shade to Dunst territory with highlights alone so be patient. Natural light blondes like Kate Bosworth and Naomi Watts obviously have an easier time. They can use an all-over high-lift tint and get amazing blonde results, says
Coates. A few important things for blondes and aspiring blondes to remember: use a purple or blue shampoo to keep color white and bright; use a deep conditioner no more than once a week to prevent hair from becoming brittle; and prepare for touch-ups every 4-6 weeks.

Recent forbearers: Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, Chloe Sevigny, Clemence Poesy
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Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Photo: Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images

The rooty blonde look is cool and modern in a laid-back way. Just let your roots grow out or have your stylist paint on darker ones to get the look quicker, says Coates. But make sure its feathered out so it doesnt look like a landing strip. If that feels too unpolished, a few face-framing highlights can help pull it all together and keep it from looking too disheveled.

Recent forbearers: Miley Cyrus, Alexa Chung, Lou Doillon, Ashley Greene
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Miley Cyrus. Photo: George Pimentel, WireImage

The new crop of highlighted brunettes perfectly imitates the lightening effects of the sun for a look that feels very natural. Mileys hair color looks like what a rooty blonde with face-framing highlights would be, except the shade is darker, says Coates. It still looks pulled together because the highlights are to the root in
the front, but the dark base in the back gives it a lived-in feel.

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Alexa Chung. Photo: Donato Sardella, WireImage

Alexa Chungs surfer-style brunette has an easy appeal tat is achieved though a free-hand color technique. Coates suggests styling sun-streaked brunette hair with some loose texture to show off the natural-looking color.

Related: Save Your Color From The Sun With These Great Products

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