Secrets of a Celebrity Hair Colourist

Be it the flaxen blonde of Gwyneth, the chocolatey locks of Lily Aldridge, the honey, balayage-esque situation of J-LO, or the colour chameleon that is Emma Stone, no one does colour quite like Tracey Cunningham. With a client rolodex that reads more like an Oscars guest list (seriously, think Barrymore, Diaz, Theron), Tracey transforms the forever-changing hair colour of the star set. 

Beauticate loves Tracey Cunningham by Nicolas Moore for Allure

Beauticate loves Tracey Cunningham by Nicolas Moore for Allure

It's a rarity that a celeb colourist would divulge all her deepest, darkest secrets, but Tracey likes to share. So much so that Emma Stone once sent her a text message asking her why she was sharing her exact colour recipe with the world (true story!) We were in luck, too, when Tracey was visiting Australia recently. We sat down with the diminutive but incredibly unaffected Tracey and chatted all things colour: from care, to celeb hair and learned about a wondrous little thing called Olaplex. Read on to be enlightened.

 

1. Don’t chop and change your colour too often.

“The biggest misconception about colouring hair is that you can change your hair colour every season and it will still be healthy! Highlighting and lightening your hair is far from a conditioning treatment. Every time you decide to switch up your colour dramatically, you are putting your hair through more damage than you think." 

 

2. Darker doesn’t necessarily mean healthier.

 “Many people think that if they apply a dark colour over highlights and give their hair a "break" suddenly the hair is back to healthy state - this isn't always true. Colour lives on your hair forever, previously lightened ends will always be compromised. Dark colour only masks damage.

 

3. Clarifying Shampoo isn’t always your friend.

“Swimming in pools may ruin your colour, and using clarifying shampoo often may dim the toner on highlights. Ask your colourist for a demineralizing treatment if you are a swimmer, this will remove chlorine buildup and brighten up your colour.”

 

4. TREAT YO’ SELF AT HOME.

“Everyone should be using Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector in-between appointments, once a week. Redken’s new Colour Extend Magnetics is great too because it's sulfate free. If you are one to dramatically change your colour every season be sure to use this take home weekly to rebuild the bonds that have been broken during services. This is a great way to maintain the health of your hair at home so that when you do decide to change things up, your hair will be strong enough for these services. Make sure to also keep up with trims to freshen up your ends.”

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5. Turn heads with Red, by way of Bryce Dallas Howard.

“Red hair is very popular! I love taking photos of natural red heads and replicating their colour. It's so beautiful and a great color change for blondes that isn't so hard on the hair. Baby lights are a great way to give red heads a little dimension without the look of highlights, I'll throw in a few baby lights to soften Bryce Dallas Howard’s red.”

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6. Own Ombre like Lily Aldridge.

She is the most requested ombre - her colour opened the door for brunettes. Balayage ends gives brunettes bright pieces to frame their face and hair cut, while a dark root allows for minimal maintenance without the look of stripy highlights popping out from the root.”

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7. Less is more when highlighting a la Charlize Theron.

“Charlize Theron is a great go to blonde. Less is more when highlighting, so I always pick up the same pieces to keep the dimension and prevent her from going too blonde. After the highlight, I'll base her with Redken Color Gels to lighten up her natural colour and soften her highlights at the root.”

 

8. CROSS TO THE DARK SIDE, LIKE DAKOTA JOHNSON.

I took Dakota from grown out platinum to a warm brunette for the 50 Shades of Grey movie. She looks great as a blonde but taking her darker really made her eyes pop. I regimented her hair and used Olaplex No.1 to reduce the porosity, which prevents colour from fading on her previously lightened hair. I then added in some low lights because I wanted to keep the dimension. I topped it all off with a 20 minute Redken Shades EQ gloss with Olaplex No. 1. I use Olaplex on all of my clients to treat their hair too. It’s my super power, I use it every time I colour hair. It’s changed everything, I couldn’t live without it.”

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Story and interview by Chrisanthi Kaliviotis.