For many hair colorists, the fall season can be stressful. There’s often a lot of pressure to revive clients’ hair, darken its color and immediately help with other issues that occurred over the summer from heat, salt, sun and chlorine exposure. It’s very common for people to come in with dry, brittle strands that are stripped of the tonal qualities needed for color to radiate.
Over the past several years fall color trends have been fun and different. Unicorn colors like pastels, rainbow variations and rose gold have been a big hit, and in turn, colorists have been given a lot more creativity. However, dusty tones like these are only achieved when the color absorbs into the hair shaft, which means that extreme bleaching is needed to achieve some of these looks.
For the fall season, bleaching to a lighter shade might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s actually been a trend for years. The great Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and even Linda Evangelista, have all plunged into the lightening blue powder to achieve that one and only iconic tone known as Platinum. Today, Katy Perry is this look’s hot new devotee. One has to wonder, though, if Katy’s frequent and drastic color changes are ultimately for her new cropped do—was it really by choice or by necessity?
A platinum look this time of year can seem unexpected and exciting, but keep in mind the color can create catastrophic hair health dilemmas when it isn’t done well, by an expert. That’s why you do see many people opt for a cropped haircut when they go very light. Dried, frazzled ends and breakage become much more common.
As for general color care and upkeep, treatment products including Olaplex, Smartbond by L’Oreal and pH-Bonder by Redken are just a few bond building products, meant to keep hair healthy as you lighten shades. Increasing the elasticity of the hair’s shaft during more dangerous chemical procedures, like intensive hair bleaching and coloring, reduces the problems that can occur down the road. I find these products also provide a much needed safety net for the lazy colorists who can’t resist overlapping when applying balayage or highlights to hair. Your salon will charge you more for these treatments at your color appointment, but they’re highly recommended—and worth it. I’ll only use Olaplex when I’m 100 percent sure of what other color treatments have been applied to a client’s hair. I’ve learned Olaplex doesn’t work with any color that contains metallic elements. Be truthful with your stylist if it’s your first time seeing him or her, and remember that what you do at home could possibly end up costing you much, much more to fix with professionals.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that we really cannot color hair better than nature can. A great example of this is the popularity of ombre. It makes sense to make hair ends lighter than the roots because the ends of strands are older and have been exposed to the elements longer, allowing the sun to work its magic. Everyone looks good in ombre when it is done right.
When thinking about your perfect fall color transition, it goes without saying that your career and age should be considered. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun though, and if you’re not afraid to cut your hair you’ll be able to experiment a little more. I recommend a color consultation for anyone ready to make a change—either small or drastic. Bring in a few pictures of yourself from a time when you loved your hair color, or find one of someone else for inspiration. A skilled colorist will be able to take into account your skin tone, eyes and lifestyle, and together you can develop a plan. All color requires a certain amount of care and upkeep. At a consultation I’ll tell people to avoid too much sun, salt and aggressive shampoos containing sulfates and parabens. Lots of conditioning and cold rinses can always help keep color, too.
For men, it is rare that I ever take away all of the grays with my male clients, and there are colors I strongly suggest guys avoid. To start, my biggest nightmare would be a hue resembling Donald Trump’s. Low lighting is the best way to infuse a natural tone back when grey has really taken over. For the younger men, a surfer look with a little balayage is the perfect way to achieve this. Red tones on men just don’t work. Most of the time it makes their skin look blotchy and just screams dye job. I also stay away from and don’t advise coloring methods like Just For Men. Things like this swap your grey out with a translucent weird hue that I find never ever looks real.
This particular season I am seeing the pastel shades increasing in their pigment—becoming richer and bolder. Expect a lot of chestnut hair for fall, and long layered shaggy looks on the runway. This look is great for lighter skin tones.
Chocolate tones are all the rage for brunettes right now. Remember the root is darker but the ends are still chocolate, not gold, and definitely not darker brown. Try this on a below-the-chin choppy bob, and don’t forget to add a long bang. Smolder your eye shadow, and definitely add a camel coat to your fall wardrobe lineup.
Blondes are definitely less harsh this season, and not quite so ashy as the recent violet colors being added were making them. Think amber—not the orange color, but that sort-of tiger-eye vein that runs through it. I think this will be the toner that lots of colorists will be mixing. Women will be wearing it with a deep-blue, slightly brighter than navy, and their brow will be darker and warmer than their hair.
Speaking of violet, I think we’ll see a trend for natural ebony hair will add flecks of a dark purple. Berets will be a rage this year and will look fantastic with this look.
Maybe none of these trends and ideas are for you; maybe you just want to keep it simple. Right now is a great time of year to deepen, enrich, and restore your hair.
Paul Labrecque founded his salon and spa 1988 with a simple passion for beauty and fashion. What started as a two seat boutique salon on the Upper West Side has grown to three highly successful full service salons and spas in Manhattan, one location in downtown Philadelphia, an award-winning line of hair care products, a thriving retail and e-commerce business and a highly regarded education center for young stylists in training.