Expert Advice

Celebrating Your Color—Brunettes

Patrick McIvor | March 6, 2012 | 2:21 PM

In my last blog I shared hot tips on how to create great redheads, in this blog I want to share some of my personal signature techniques and ideas for brunettes. It's funny, at this point in my career there is a “Patrick” redhead, blonde and brunette, and in the same way there is a Picasso or a Versace dress or BMW headlights that can be recognized from behind you at night. Why? Because of branding and style that creates the signature to their look that makes it undeniably them. Here’s what I do.  

Redheads, as we discussed before, are always about the second and third reflect.  For brunettes it is richness, texture and a sultry sexy edge.  So, there are a few things I do to make sure my guests return as rich, sultry and sexy as they left.

First Stop - Demi-Permanent Color
My first choice, always, is demi-permanent hair color when I am creating a brunette color.  Because, whether I am looking for gray coverage to a subtle shift in tone or a more dramatic tonal shift, today when staying level on level, going deeper or even looking to shift the hair slightly brighter, a demi-permantent color can do it all, and my favorite is Matrix Color Sync. With 10 vol developer we can create beautiful rich tones that stand up to sun, active life styles and daily styling without showing its age, which is what can happen with some permanent colors that facture too much melanin causing guests to return with tell tale brassiness. And, with 20 vol and extra coverage technology like the Extra Coverage Series in Color Sync, in 20 minutes we can achieve amazing gray blending to full on gray coverage (depending on the hair porosity) that creates a diffused line of demarcation allowing the guest to return six to eight weeks later with hair that still looks great. To the envy of all her friends who can’t figure out why her color looks so great and theirs washes out brassy with a hard line. Only her Matrix Color Sync hairdresser knows why.

Create Texture, Not Blonde
So many times I see brunettes loose their identity because of highlights.  It starts out as a few subtle highlights and ends up a year later looking like Kelly Ripa. What is sexy about brunettes is the depth to their hair, but sometimes that depth can hide texture and movement, and instead of looking sexy, it can look like a silhouette - solid and heavy. That’s where a few highlights come in handy. It's also why the Ombré technique is so popular with brunettes, because the Ombré technique has a blend of depth at the base with lightness and texture through the ends. For my signature brunettes I love creating texture with light, not lightness with light.  One of the things I remind both my guests and myself when creating sexy texture for brunettes is, “without dark there is no light.”

New Technology = More Artistry
Haircolor technology is moving forward so fast that things we could only wish to do five or three years ago is now in our hands. We just need to grab a hold, change what we can do and change what clients think. For almost my entire 27-year career, highlighting brunette hair gave me three choices - use lightener, go no more than two levels lighter or fight the brass - and all three left a lot to be desired. But, now with new technology we have hair color that in one step can take someone from dark brown hair to caramel highlights that don't make her brassy and that we can see without using a lightener. That means that for colorists, we can produce amazing, consistent results leaving the hair in great condition.  And, the guest will return wanting more because for the first time their highlights, or even all-over color, stayed beautiful because we have Matrix Wonder Browns. From Khloe Kardashian, to Beyoncé, Jo-Lo and all the Brazilian Victoria Secret models, brunette hair is sexy again because we are controlling the brass. We can use new technology to create everyday miracles and change the way people think about brown hair.

This past weekend I was out in Kansas at DIGITAL TIGER STUDIOS, shooting some ideas and thanks to their team, here are some examples of my brunette and even a redhead. Blondes are next!

Hope you like...p

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