Hair Color 101

I was a true hair color virgin, I mean I had NEVER, not even with a box of color from Walgreens dyed my hair, until about 2 weeks ago when I decided to go for it. I had been thinking about it for a while and as I searched for inspirational images I noticed that it wasn't just the cut, but the color that I really loved, so I bit the bullet and went for it! I honestly didn't know what to expect when it came to the process, the up-keep, or even the outcome. So I turned to my fabulous hair stylist, Phil Saunders, in Cincinnati, Ohio to guide me through the transformation!

The before & after shot!

The before & after shot!

There are so many different techniques to color your hair it can be a bit daunting. I knew I wanted something that would look natural and that required very little up keep if any.  What I mostly knew about hair coloring was watching Legally Blonde and other clients have their head covered in foil and sitting under a blow dryer forever. Fortunately, I didn't do either of those and went with the French balayage technique developed in the 1970's that is a much more natural freehand approach. Typically the stylist uses a backing board and brushes the color on leaving it sit and dry while they continue around your head. There are different approaches to apply the color, but Phil prefers to use a back-combing technique which is essentially teasing your hair and then hand painting the color on the ends. This can be a very long process depending on how much hair you have, but looks much more natural in the end.

Once all the coloring is completed, then you have the cut. Blunt bobs & lobs (long bobs) are big right now, but what is most important when doing a cut with a balayage is to make sure it is done with the intention of loose curls or a beachy tousled look so that the color variations throughout your hair can be seen! In fact, Phil actually curled quite a bit of my hair prior to adding the color so he knew where to apply the highlights. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't wear your hair straight, but the looser curls will show off more for sure!

Coloring your hair can be a big investment so it's important to use products that protect and care for your freshly colored locks. These are some products that have been highly recommended by Phil and Carly that will enhance my new hue, keep my color from fading, and just make my hair feel healthier!

Shampoos & Conditioners

  • Pureology and Kerastase Shampoo & Conditioner - highly recommended by Phil. However, I quickly reminded him that I wasn't a hair stylist and that the likely-hood of me spending a small fortune on hair products was pretty slim so he gave me a couple more "realistic" options!  
  • Redken Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo - this one was more in my price range and smells so good! This one is also not too difficult to find either online or at Ulta Beauty. Phil mentioned that really the most important thing to look for when searching for a Shampoo geared for color is a formula that is sulfate and paraben free.
  • Aveda's Color Care Shampoo - Carly is a big fan of the color & color care for red hair. However, she hasn't tried the others being that she likes to maintain a red hair color, but it really highlights and amplifies the red tones in her hair.
  • Biolage by Matrix Color Care Shampoo -  Weightless product that prolong the life of your color and have a nice clean smell; plus the large bottles last awhile and won't break the bank!

Sprays & Texturizers

  • N.4 High Performance Hair Care -  Super comb prep & protect product that is great for all the damage that you can cause with color as well as styling tools. Phil always sprays this on before starting the styling session.
  • Color Conserve Daily Color Protect - great leave-in, weightless daily product that Carly uses about everyday I think
  • Windblown 05 - creates airy texture with beachy wave without using salt spray which can quickly dry out your hair, and the best part is that the hairspray has a level 6 hold!
  • Quick Tease 15 - Another great Redken product that can give you a tease effect without actually teasing all your hair. Can be used underneath all your hair to give a boost generating volume, texture and control.


  • Neuro Wand by Paul Mitchell - A great wand to create beachy waves or to do anything with really. Has a great sleek traveling case. I am still trying to figure out how to use a wand, but I will let you know when that becomes successful!
  • BaByliss Pro Ferrari Blow Dryer - This blow dryer has an amazing amount of power and can quickly blow dry my thick hair. It also come with 3 different changeable heads.
  • Marilyn Round Brush - I still haven't mastered a round brush, but Phil seems to be able to do magic with it. He highly recommends NOT using a boar bristle round brush because it takes significantly more time than a synthetic, but loves this Marilyn brush which is an hourglass shape allowing for more styling options.
  • Wet Brush - The perfect brush for wet or dry hair and comes in both boar or synthetic bristles. A great brush for the shower to use while giving yourself a gloss mask which will not only make your hair shine, but also can stimulate hair growth.

What do you think? Have you ever done any color treatments to your hair or have any special products that you just can't live without? I am looking forward to seeing how my color slightly changes over these next few months with the aid of some beautiful sunshine and if I will be brave enough to do it again or if I will just enjoy my natural color - Carly swears it becomes a bit addicting! Either way, I can't thank Phil enough for doing such a wonderful job and making the whole experience just that, a fun, beauty learning experience! You can check some of Phil's work out here or shoot him a text at 917.474.1138 for your own personal experience!

Hope this inspires you to try a few new beauty endeavors!


Inspirational images found here: top left, top right, bottom right, & bottom left.