This story was originally published on June 2, 2015. Deciding to embark on a new hair color pretty much guarantees a full-time commitment to maintaining that 'do. Frequent touch-ups and regular trims are generally a must in order to keep up the style you walked out of the chair with. But, a new trend is helping cut down on the time you spend at the salon. Meet lived-in color.
Coined by famed colorist Johnny Ramirez and introduced by the ladies at The Cut, lived-in color is a new way of highlighting and blending that allows the color to grow out naturally. Most importantly, it can last up to six months. The process itself is fairly extensive, taking about six hours to complete — but the idea of spending half the day at the salon twice a year, rather than a couple of hours every four to five weeks, sounds pretty blissful to us. It not only benefits the consumer in the time, money, and hair-health departments — in the long run, it helps the colorist as well. "It's a compliment to me," says Ramirez. "You think you'll struggle because they don't come back as often, but it's the word of mouth or the people stopping and wanting her hair. In essence, one client will bring me 10 to 20 [more clients] over time." Essentially, the technique involves highlighting the whole head, lifting or bleaching the hair, depositing the color, and creating a "fake root." Then, Ramirez replicates the color on top of certain strands to match the new base color — and to avoid harsh roots as the hair grows out. Yes, the final look might appear similar to balayage, but Ramirez stresses that it's different. The process involves using 20-volume peroxide to blend through the whole head (while with balayage you paint the outside perimeter of the hair). The technique not only lasts a long time but works with every hair hue (Ramirez notes that only those with gray strands have to come in sooner for base touch-ups). But, he stresses, this isn't a task for just any colorist. "It takes a certain kind of colorist to deliver that kind of hair color to last six to seven months," he says. "[It takes] a master hair-color junkie to make it as natural as possible — you have to be an amazing fucking colorist to pull this off." The idea of lived-in hair is spreading to haircuts as well. Hair guru Wes Sharpton of the esteemed Hairstory studio likes to provide his clients (one of whom is our own beauty writer, Maria Del Russo) with styles that not only grow out beautifully but require zero-to-minimal styling. (Also known as "the dream.") The cuts have a softness to them, instead of the blunt, severe edges we often see. This allows the hair to gradually grow out without falling into that "I need a haircut" phase.
"It’s about being modern," says Sharpton. "I would rather someone look really great with minimal work, and have people in my chair for the idea of retaining something that has value longer, than to keep the same small circle of people trapped in a look because it’s convenient for my paycheck." Where things get iffy is when you're about two months in and that cut starts to look, well, not so new anymore. Does this idea really live up to the hype? Sharpton says that, when executed right, it's definitely doable. "When [the stylist] really performs, then it requires less work from you," he says. "It’s like if you bought a jacket and had to sew the sleeves on every morning; it just doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to give you something that you have to put together all the time; I want you to just be able to wear it and look great.”
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