Dyeing for a Change

Turning your life around one lock at a time

By Erica D. Rowell  ABC News
NEW YORK — As the last of the fall colors fade from the trees in many parts of the country, the hoary season is poised to descend, altering moods and rendering a seasonal disaffection.

Two shades of supermodel Kate Moss

But don't worry — if the blues start to creep in, fight color with color. Do as nature does and turn, turn, turn.

Hair coloring, all the rage right now, has been digging roots throughout the general populace during this last decade of the millennium. And if the traditional school of dyeing was to lighten in summer and darken for the winter, the old "formula" is certainly changing. These days, the time for dyeing is year-round.

"Tinting, tinting, coloring," New York hair-stylist Louis Licari interjects, correcting the word choice for one of the 90's more pervasive fashion statements. "We don't use the word 'dye' because it sounds sort of, ah, like we're killing it or something."

Michael Angelo (yes, that's his real name) of NYC's Robert Kree Salon agrees.

"My beauty school teacher used to tell us that 'dye' is reserved for laundry," he quips.

Whatever the moniker, hair coloring is in — and in big.

And if just a decade ago the trend was largely reserved for punk-rockers and gray-fighters, today's runs a much wider gamut. Now it responds to caprices of fashion just as much as the latest skirt length.

And there are so many more options when it comes to coloring: from tinting and highlighting, to streaking and toning, to 'yes, please, I'd like a hairful of green.'

"It seems like since punk had been so exposed, it's watered down," says Kenny Clinton, from Matthew & Ingrid's Hair Salon in Baltimore. "And it's like everything goes right now."

Angelo admits that although "gray coverage" is his "bread and butter" work, there's so much more. "Blondes," he declares, "blondes galore. Highlights, natural-looking hair. Dimensional color."

AP/Wide World
A splash of red at the Dior show

These days, people are using their heads more and more to make a fashion statement.

As Lauren, a Manhattan-based online editor who has colored her light brown hair both platinum and near-black, put it, "I've always found it to be the best accessory."

In this gym culture of the 90s, hair style as well as physique does a body good.

"I always say it's the one quick-fix that works," says Licari, emphasizing the change in one's look. "If you think about it, if you want to exercise, go on a diet, it all takes a while. But with hair color, you can see a change immediately."

Hair Art

"My hair is dark," explains the flaxen-coifed Bebe, a regular client and friend of Tina Montalbano of Heart Salon in New York City. It's a Tuesday afternoon at Heart, and both customers of this music-industry hair stylist are sporting colored hair.

Bebe goes on to say she decided to go strawberry blond a while ago and has been totally blond for about 7 years.

Ray West, sitting with a plastic bag on his head while the color sets, chimes in with his story. "It's really a mood thing with me," he begins.

AP/Wide World
Blonde ambition rules the runways

Apparently, he's been in a dark place these days and wanted a change. "I came in with red hair, and I'm leaving with ...." he says.

Montalbano finishes the sentence, "Auburgine with black tips."

Aubergine is a deep, purpley, eggplant color.

The scene, scored to a nearly contrapuntal rotation of disco hits, is really quite serene. The setting is so comfortable and relaxing and so sedate it seems very anachronistic and un-nineties. It almost has the feel of a bohemian artist's studio sometime in the sixties.

Ray compliments Montalbano's work: "She has a good idea for mixing colors."

"It's an art," Bebe adds.

Montalbano, who has been styling hair for about 12 years now and has appeared on MTV's Makeover Madness, is not your average hair stylist. And her customers are not your average citizens. She has colored Marilyn Manson's hair, and Trent Reznor used to be a steady client.

"I don't do a lot of natural," Montalbano explains. "People come to me because they want something very different, very wild."

For Montalbano, whose rocker-customers march to different drummers anyway, most of her customers sport hardcore colors — pink, blue, green, aubergine — and she sees a pretty much equal proportion of men to women.

Formula for Success?

Still, today's trends are much more liberating, and the old-schools-of-thought have been largely tossed aside for a literally brighter future, which is now.

AP/Wide World
Madonna often reinvents herself with hair color

"Years ago, women would carry around their formula," recalls Licari who's been coloring hair for some 20 years. "And ... if they were going to another town or another colorist, they would say, here's my formula: 2 number 46, one half number 5-7."

Licari runs the anti-Heart Salon. While he too has a number of famous clients — Susan Sarandon, Ellen Barkin, Mira Sorvino, among them — he has many non-famous ones as well. And unlike the in-your-face styles of rock and roll, Licari tends toward the natural.

"Most of the time, we suggest more minimal changes," he says. "If you have dark brown hair, and you're trying to be Madonna-blonde, your hair will not be healthier after the coloring process. But if you stay within a few shades of your natural color, your hair will be fine."

Perhaps part of the change in hair-coloring trends has to do with the advances in science. Nowadays, coloring can actually be healthy for your hair.

"I think that if you do it correctly, your hair can wind up in at least as good shape as your natural hair — sometimes even better if it's done right," says Angelo.

He explains that "Framesi colors are formulated with vegetable oils and coconut fats and the developers are formulated with a polymer that makes a coat on your hair so when the whole thing is said and done, it's a really glossy, shiny finish. I mean, it's almost as if you had a deep conditioner in your hair."

All the stylists agree that the products have gotten better. And along with the confluence of a more accepting and more image-conscious society, hair coloring is a 90's way to spice up one's looks — a trend that could easily cross into the next millennium.

Copyright © 1999 Fox News

  • Employer:
  • Date:
  • Category: