Whether looking on the runways, at celebrities, or walking across the street, it’s becoming more and more impossible to not see someone with ombre hair. With it being a mega trend lately, the need to maintain the style is crucial. Any way you color hair, it becomes prone to damage and breakage, but with ombre coloring, hair can become unevenly damaged. We turned to George Papanikolas, celebrity hairstylist and “Guru of the Ombre,” to give us inside tips on what to ask for when getting an ombre style, how to keep hair healthy, and products to use to maintain the look. Below are his expert tips on the ombre hairstyle.
Beauty High: Ombre is clearly sticking around this season – how can we add extra life into our ombre if we’re getting a little bored with the style?
George Papanikolas: I hate using the word “ombre” because it gives me visions of dip-dyed hair. Nothing is more dated than too drastic of a color change from root to ends or any harsh lines. The key to keeping this look fresh and modern is to have a seamless transition from the base color to soft caramel and honey tones. Think “Victoria’s Secret model,” instead of anything over bleached or super high contrast. The best way to add extra life and get the look is to not lighten all of the ends, but instead target pieces to give a multi-dimensional ombre effect. To create the look, I do Balayage, a French highlighting technique where the highlights are directly painted to the hair. I start with fine delicate highlights at the root, gradually getting thicker, chunkier and heavier towards the ends. Because I can control exactly where the highlights are placed, and depending on the amount of lighter used on each hair strand, you get variation of different colors, tones and intensity. The parts that get less lightener only lift to a caramel, and where you go heavier with the lighter, you get honey tones. The result is a seamless graduation of multiple colors.
This look has become such a huge staple because of it’s ease of maintenance, but it does require some attention. What tips do you have for keeping your ombre salon perfect?
The biggest issue with ombre is that you are lightening the ends of the hair, which are the most fragile and most prone to damage or dryness. The first step is to not over lighten the hair; the lighter you make the ends, the more damaged they will become. Then it’s crucial to incorporate a hair repair strategy, like Joico’s K-Pak Revitaluxe, that will help repair the hair and at the same time keep it soft and shiny.
You work with the Kardashians, who change up their hair a lot, but in terms of color they like to keep the changes minimal, but with maximum impact. For example, Khloe’s gorgeous caramel brings all of the attention to her face. What are some tips for adding color in small doses for a big impact?
Strategic color placement is crucial for getting maximum impact, especially on brunettes. With Kim, Khloe and Kourtney, I actually don’t put in a lot of highlights. I focus on where they naturally part their hair and by making the highlights chunky at the ends around their face, and where the hair naturally parts, you get those bold pops of color. And by chunky, I don’t mean from root to end, that’s where the ombre effect or graduation of color makes it soft, seamless and modern.
With your celebrity clients, What are the common requests that they have been asking for this spring season?
Spring is the time where celebs like to brighten up their hair, and amp up their color. Sunkissed highlights are timeless, and I’ve been getting tons of requests for warmer, rose gold tones. The funny thing is, almost everyone has said they don’t want ombre! But, the inspiration pictures they show me are all a variation of ombre! The difference is that they want a soft subtle graduation of color. What makes it current is that it should look sunkissed and not over bleached or dip-dyed.
We’ve been seeing a huge trend towards red hair lately, do you predict a lot of redheaded ombre styles as well?
Yes! I am loving ombre on red hair! I love it when it’s a vibrant copper fading to a light golden copper. Red hair can get very yellow when it’s highlighted, so I like to add a light golden copper gloss to keep the entire look warm and sunny.