While colorists across the country are actively avoiding the “O” word, last year’s popular gradient color design has become a household name, as classic as the bob, layers and face-framing. Let’s face it, ombre hair coloring is practical for the client and allows the colorist the opportunity to be creative with color placement and technique. MODERN loves finding the artists who have mastered any technique, especially those destined for the rule book. And with surfer-cool results like this, what’s not to love?

FORMULA AND STEPS: George Papanikolas' Beach Blonde Technique

Celebrity stylist and master colorist George Papanikolas has made quite a name for himself with his trending formulas and finishes on his high-profile clientele—think the Kardashian sisters, Gisele Bundchen and Sarah Jessica Parker. Here, Papanikolas, freshly named Matrix Celebrity Stylist, uses a combination of backcombing, lightener and strategic color placement to create what he calls his perfect “beachy” finish.

STEPS:

The “beachy finish” technique involves a base adjustment followed by balayage, then backcombing and V color placement. “I use 40-volume developer in the first application because I need more lifting power,” Papanikolas says. For the second application, he backcombs large sections and applies lightener with 30-volume developer in a V shape below the backcombed strands.

STEP 1: Begin by placing a barrier cream around the hairline.

STEP 2: Adjust the base color. Take ¼-inch sections and apply color to line of demarcation SoColor 6AA with 20-volume developer, about 2½ inches out from hairline.

STEP 3: Process for five minutes at room temperature, shampoo and rough dry.

STEP 4: Create a horseshoe section from the top of the parietal to mid crown. Begin the lightener application in the back by taking fine sections, pulling out, and applying freehand Light Master with 40-volume developer. Apply lightly at the base.

STEP 5: Get heavier and chunkier as you approach the lengths and ends. Separate each section with cotton.

STEP 6: Continue to the sides. Project the hair out from the temple. Continue to apply lightly near the scalp.

STEP 7: Apply thicker toward the ends. Continue working up to a top center parting.

STEP 8: Lightener is placed as shown. Process with heat for 20 minutes or until the lightener dries. Shampoo and blow dry.

STEP 9: Return to the back. Pull out large horizontal sections and backcomb up to the scalp.

STEP 10: Apply Light Master with 30-volume developer below the backcombed area. Color is applied in a V shape.

STEP 11: On foil, continue along the rounds of the head in 2-inch horizontal sections. Bricklayer for a more natural finish.

STEP 12: Work up to the top of the head.

STEP 13: Process to light golden blonde.

STEP 14: Finish with Biolage styling products.