2015 ushered in a wave of interpretations of the pixelated haircolor technique—no one owned the technique more than Philip Ring.
AT A RECENT CLASS at Chicago’s Red7 Salon, educator, stylist and self-described amateur magician Philip Ring (@phildoeshair) began his introduction with a simple magic trick. Attendees were at the class to learn how to create Ring’s claim to fame—pixel haircolor, a technique in which color application creates a geometric design—but a magic trick to start the morning? Why not.
Ring turned four pieces of cloth in varying colors into one ribbon of rainbow cloth, and then, unlike traditional magicians, he revealed his secret.
“When it comes to pixelated haircolor, it’s all about the illusion,” Ring said.
The technique was first made public by a creative group in Spain called X-Presion Creativos. Now, Ring has made a name for himself by becoming synonymous with the technique.
2015 was the year everything changed for Ring. He had been working independently at an Arizona salon suite with a dedicated clientele. For years, he scrounged every dollar he profited for tools and education.
“When you invest in education, you invest in yourself,” Ring says.
Although there were spurts of inspiration, overall, Ring felt tied down in his suite. In January, he left the suite and moved to Phoenix to work in a traditional salon environment.
“I lost a lot of clients, so I had a lot of free time,” he says. “When you own your own business and have to deal with the numbers, and then all of the sudden you don’t, you can do more of what you want to do.”
Ring bought a high-end camera and amped up his social media game by showcasing his creative-color skills. In February, the stylist had nearly 2,000 Instagram followers.
He noticed on social media colorists were trying to master pixelated hair, but it wasn’t coming out right.
“I started pixelating when I had a week and a half where I just didn’t have any clients,” he says.
He bought six mannequin heads and devoted this time off to practice. Ring described the first mannequin as a disaster, the second as an improvement, and the pattern on the third as too intense, but felt confident trying it on a client.
“I discovered doing pixels is taking cutting techniques and turning them into coloring techniques,” he says. “We’ve always been consumed with haircolor being applied vertically, like balayage, foil and caps. Now we’re looking at it working across the hair.”
Ring isn’t letting out his secret. Although MODERN can’t disclose “magic,” love it or hate it (or just want to figure out how to do it!) pixel color has put Ring on the map. He urges others to flex their creative muscles, hone in on a skill they feel confident at—like he did with cutting—and transfer the technique to another specialty area.
“Inspiration comes with the talents that you already have,” he says.
*Photos included in the article courtesy of Philip Ring, all models from this class.
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