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Sustainable Color

Victoria Wurdinger | July 10, 2011 | 6:20 PM

Freelance educator, consultant and color specialist Fabian Bordelon attributes the fact he’s created two successful businesses to his master training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NPL)—the study and structure of the subjective experience.

Currently the owner of Fabian’s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Bordelon frequently experiments with color techniques and conducts his own “Simpatico Education” seminars. His unique system bridges the gap between artistic theory and salon application, and breaks a few rules along the way. We caught up with him between travels to talk about texture-based techniques and color sustainability.

Sustainable Color

Q: Can the same coloring technique work for all hair textures?

A: Yes. I try to use techniques that work for any type of hair but I am very aware that curly hair needs some adjustments, due to its density and how it reflects color.

Q: What’s your latest technique for adding depth to super-straight hair?

A: Tapping “wabi-sabi,” the movement of nature, I use as many colors as I can within each foil, while designing for movement, dimension and light reflection. It’s “sustainable color” because it accounts for the natural process of beginning, peak, decline and change. The color still looks good on the return. Then, I redefine it, based on how it evolved. I’m constantly building on my own process. I also think of it as eco-friendly color because it recycles itself.

Q: How would you adjust that technique for very fine or very dense hair?

A: All hair color must be designed for how it fades. Fine hair can take fast or have a closed cuticle. When necessary, I use accelerators, which create great color retention. To create a denser feel to the shaft, I add wisps of reflective color on the ends or last few inches. This fools the eye; when viewed as a whole, the hair looks denser. For dense hair, I break up the reflectiveness of the pigment by changing out heavy-pigment color for translucent color, sometimes on the same parting. I might add a vertical sweep of heavy pigment, then a stroke of translucent color, then another stroke of heavy pigment. When I do this and add contrasting colors, the opposing hues both look more vibrant.  

Q: What rule did you break recently?

A: I never write down color formulas. I design based on the moment, taking into account what occurred between visits. It’s easy when you understand color theory. I also work with molecules to create heavyweight pigment. I might use a color mixed with 20-volume developer and let what’s left sit for 20 minutes. Then I add color to it to create a new color for a new client and add new developer. This changes the weight of the pigment.

Q: How does your NPL training help you in coloring hair?

A: I never ask, “What do you want to do?” I ask, “How are feeling about your hair and your color today?” I start talking when clients know they were heard, which creates trust. Then, I bring it back to maintenance. I also set up clients to “look for the compliment” and immediately associate it with me. For example, as they are leaving I say, “When you go back to work and everyone tells you they love your color, remember to mention my salon.” That little tag after every visit sets them up to look for the compliment and link it to me.
Sustainable Color

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