L.A.'s Raddest Hair Colorist Spills The Looks You'll Want In 2017

Photographed By Cherin Choi.
It's the first week of the year, so we'll spare you the 'new year, new you' sentiment and cut right to the big question: What are the raddest hair trends going to be this year? If you're like us, the itch for newness is already creeping up, and a hair refresh is one of the best ways to scratch it. For guidance as we enter the new year, we're turning to one of L.A. most demanding colorists.
Enter: Cherin Choi. She's made a name for herself for her forward-thinking hair colors that are as flattering as they are edgy — and she took on a challenge over the past few weeks exclusively for R29.
Ahead, you'll find 16 cool looks she created for a few of her top clients for the new year. We broke them down by color family, from blond to rainbow hues, and included tips and tricks for getting exactly what you request and then maintaining it perfectly at home. Translation: Take this story to your colorist before everyone else does. Ready? Get clickin'!
1 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
The Blonds

Choi, like many in-demand colorists, can crank out platinum 'dos in her sleep, but it's the following soft, subtle versions of blond that she's giving her L.A. clients most often. She prefers to keep the color minimal, using small tweaks to tone and color placement to make each look bespoke and less demanding than a full head of bleach. Read: less upkeep.

Here are four inspiring looks to consider...

What To Ask For: High-lift highlights in a natural, beige blond.

Client Alanna Whittaker's hair was fine and fragile, thanks to previous highlighting, so Choi opted to lift her natural color with a high lift formula instead of bleach. If your hair is naturally light brown or blond, this will work for you; if your hair is darker, you'll need high lift color with bleached highlights for dimension. Either way, keep the color cool in tone (key word: beige), the sections baby fine, and only use color-safe products, she adds.

Upkeep: Touch-up highlights every 2 to 5 months. More highlights means more upkeep.
2 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
What To Ask For: Hand-painted tips and a face frame using foil packets.

Client Jennifer Hawkins had random blond highlights through her ends (think: grown out ombré), so Choi hand-painted her ends and then gave her face-framing highlights to bring it all together. Like the previous slide, the tone is cool. "Placement is everything," she says, noting that just a few pieces around the face can make your look brighter, without going super-blond.

Upkeep: None; this will grow out beautifully. Or, maintain with touch-ups every two months or so.
3 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
What To Ask For: Warm, golden highlights throughout, with a focus on the ends and around the face.

On the other side of the blond spectrum, you'll find warm tones, like this look Choi created on client Dani Song. This is a very similar technique to the previous slide, but Choi used warm, caramel-colors to create a golden look and extended the fine highlights to the top of her head, too. Avoid intense upkeep by sticking close to your natural shade: "Toners keep the color you desire, but if you blend with your natural hair color and get a base bump that is only slightly lighter than your natural color, you can maintain it easier than a base color that dramatically lifts your natural hair color."

Upkeep: Every two months or so to maintain — or just let it grow out.
4 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
What To Ask For: Golden blond full highlights; base color only if needed.

Here, we have an example of golden color done all over the head. Choi gave client Madison Williams a full head of highlights in a golden, warm blond color. She recommends sticking to only a full head of foils if you have blond to light brown hair; or, opt for a high-lift base if your hair is dark — but expect touch-ups every six weeks. "Avoiding base colors allows you to keep your color longer," Choi says. "If the color is lifted to the right tone, it can really last a long time with little to no upkeep." (Again, another reason to stick close to your natural color if you want to limit visits.)

Upkeep: Stop by for a gloss for some shine every three months, then a face frame 3 to 4 months after the full highlight, Choi says.
5 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
The Technicolors

Choi has made vibrant rainbow color a big part of her business, turning out enviable blues, reds, pinks, greens — and every color in between — on the regular. One universal trait among them all? She likes to keep the root natural, which gives a softer finish and keeps the grow-out feeling purposeful, not something that should be hidden away from sight.

Here are four inspiring looks to consider...

What To Ask For: Fiery orange with a natural root.

Choi started with virgin hair, with very minimal color at her client's ends. The secret to scoring a similar look at your local salon? "Coloring from the ends up," Choi explains. "Her roots were only highlighted around the face and the rest was blended up from the bottom." The more vibrant, the faster it will fade: "Washing with color-safe products in cold water will keep your color vibrant longer," she says.

Upkeep: "Minimal, because it grows down like ombré," Choi says. "The orange color itself will fade quickly, but it's fun to enjoy all the tones as it washes out." Prefer to keep it looking like this? You'll need appointments every three to four weeks for a color refresh.
6 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
What To Ask For: Full highlights with a smoky violet color and a natural root.

Choi started this look on virgin hair and calls it a "smoky lilac." To score a similar finish, ask for a full head of highlights, with most bleaching done at the ends, with a gray-based violet hue on top. Tip: Use purple shampoo to keep it vibrant, Choi says.

Upkeep: Choi recommends letting this one fade on its own: "The color fades out with every wash, so it will go more lavender, then eventually lighter and blonder." Or you can have it touched up every four weeks.
7 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
What To Ask For: Magenta color over blond, ombré highlights.

Client Ahmna Dailey's hair may look like it's always been this flattering shade of red, but this was actually a major color correction, Choi says. (Good news: There's hope for achieving rainbow color for hair in any state.) To get this look, she lightened her client's hair with highlights, then opted for a deep magenta hue. This will fade to pink over time, she explains. "Wash with cold water if you like it vibrant; wash warm if you want to see a different tone with each wash."

Upkeep: "Wash and enjoy the tones as your hair fades," Choi says. "Magenta is fun because eventually you get pink color that lasts."
8 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
What To Ask For: Copper or bronze color over light blond highlights with a natural root.

This is a brand-new color out this month — Bronze from the Joico Metallics line — so for a similar result, here's what Choi says to do: "It goes best over on level 9 highlights," she says. "It will last even longer if the hair is only a level 8, but fades best when the hair is blond." (Your colorist will understand this message.) Choi's client, Chie Song, had previously grown-out highlights, so Choi lifted her base, leaving her roots intact, before applying the color.

Upkeep: Choi calls this look "high maintenance — with a cute coral fade." Translation: Stop by every three weeks to maintain, but don't feel like you need to, as it'll look cute along every step of the way.
9 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
The Bronds

As you likely know by now, brond is the happy place between blond and brown — and a great color to strive for if you want to go lighter, brighter, or more golden, but don't want to commit to regular appointments. The tone makes all the difference, which you'll notice ahead.

Here are four inspiring looks to consider...

What To Ask For: Golden blond highlights with a natural root.

This look is one of the most popular, if for no other reason than you can visit the salon only a few times per year. And it's damn flattering on every hair texture and skin tone, of course. Ask for a "dark to light gradation with golden blonde ends" to get it, Choi says.

Upkeep: A retouch is needed in eight weeks if you want to keep the face-framing pieces in place, but it's not necessary. Toner every 3 months will keep the hue in check, then come back in in four to six months for a partial highlight, which connects the top dark sections and lighter ends, Choi explains.
10 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
What To Ask For: A brunette base with golden highlights and blond tips.

Choi affectionately refers to this look as "spun gold," created using her client's own natural color as the rich, brown base. (Again, this is a great option to remove any kind of commitment from the equation, but you can also opt for a different base if you prefer.)

The beauty of this look is in the two-tone highlights, which start just off the scalp in a golden tone and end in brighter blond tips. To keep the tone truer for longer, heed her advice and pick up a sulfate-free shampoo, like inphenom hair treatment conditioner, and Oribe's Gold Lust oil to keep the end hydrated and soft.

Upkeep: "Eventually the tone of the blonde will change and go slightly warmer," Choi warns, but notes that it can be updated with a gloss in the salon.
11 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
What To Ask For: Full, honey highlights with darker roots to lighter ends.

Want further proof that this look lasts for months? Client Ana Boyadijian hadn't been in for the better part of a year — which is totally allowed with this look. "Anaʼs highlights were last done in May," Choi says. "She came in seven months after because it finally became a full on ombré." A break can be very beneficial for hair health: "Bleaching is not a conditioning process and is best maintained with trims, oils or milks (products), and Olaplex!" Choi says.

Upkeep: You can go as long as this client did, or to maintain opt for a face frame highlight at three months and a full highlight whenever desired.
12 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
What To Ask For: Start with strategically placed, light toffee highlights on the ends and a natural root; top with a warm gloss.

Choi's client got highlights back in September, then came in three months later to have them warmed up with a gloss, not touched up — a great trick to extend the life of your sun-kissed strands without maintaining a bleached look. Keep the tone warm, she says, and use Davines copper color shampoo and conditioner to do so. "Warmer tones feel higher maintenance because you feel them fading quickly, so tone as needed — and avoid over-washing!"

Upkeep: A toner every three (or so) months and highlights every six (or so) months.
13 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
The Brunettes

Finally, a look at the deeper shades that Choi sees being wildly popular among her L.A. clients this year. The secret, no matter the tone or the level of darkness? Dimension, which she builds in with variances in the color. Note that the women ahead all have naturally-dark hair, but you can fake the look on light hair with a deep, dark base — but expect to maintain roots every 6 weeks if you want to be part of the dark side.

Here are four inspiring looks to consider...

What To Ask For: A face frame of highlights and lighter ends on a dark base.

Client Andi Hester's hair was virgin, so Choi gave her what she calls "sun-kissed brunette." That is, a subtle face frame and tips that are a little lighter than her natural dark brown color.

Upkeep: "It's an easy grow-out, as a toner can maintain the color seen in the photo," Choi explains. "It can be re-toned as often as every three to four months."
14 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
What To Ask For: Minimal highlighting that's slightly lighter than your natural color.

Client Kellie Johnsen is a "natural brunette with a few lighter tips on the ends," Choi says, so she enhanced this with light highlights all over — which added dimension without adding any required upkeep. The best way to keep it fresh? "Just a toner if you want to add some more color," Cho says.

Upkeep: This is very low-maintenance, Choi says, so you don't need to do anything unless you want to tweak it to be darker or lighter— but still opt for color-safe products, she adds.
15 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
What To Ask For: Full, caramel highlights with brighter ends and darker roots.

Client Julie Jung had nearly virgin hair, short of some old color at her ends, so Choi gave her dark strands a full highlight, opting for caramel tones and a lighter finish at her ends paired with barely any color at the roots.

Upkeep: "Toner every three months will make for a low-maintenance grow-in," Choi says, "then you can highlight for more dimension as needed."
16 of 17
Photographed By Cherin Choi.
What To Ask For: Blended, natural-looking highlights with lighter ends.

Prefer something cooler in tone? Client Kiran Khanmohamad arrived with grown-out highlights that had become a bit like ombré, Choi says, which is common. She refreshed her look with what she calls "modern, soft ombré of dark to light, ash brunette." Ask for well-blended highlights that are lighter at the ends, which delivers a soft look that grows out easily.

Upkeep: "Minimal upkeep other than an occasional toner and a partial highlight to blend in three to four months," Choi says. Then just let it grow!
17 of 17
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!

More from Hair


R29 Original Series