Going Back to your Roots… Is Brunette the New Blonde?

Cameron did it. So did J.Lo, Hilary, Ashley, Nicole… et tu Britney? These once blonde celebrities stunned us by transforming themselves unexpectedly into alluring brunettes.

I grew up a darkling at a time when “gentlemen preferred blondes” and “blondes had more fun.” As a young girl, my dream was to have the “hair fairy” turn my dull, dark brown self into a sexy blonde beauty.

Back in the day, I had a $60 consultation with the legendary Constance Hartnett, the master colorist at Frederic Fekkai Salon. I told her I wanted to be blonde. She looked at me coldly and uttered five words, “Darling, NEVER EVER go blonde.”

But years later, I ignored Ms. Hartnett’s advice and highlighted my hair to the much copied “J.Lo.” blonde. Well, Ms. Hartnett was right; I looked awful.

According to a recent study, up to 80% of blondes in America are actually brunettes. So should they all go back to their roots? How do you know what color suits your tresses best?

I met with Allison Gandolfo, Senior Colorist at Salon AKS, who spent hours correcting my badly botched highlights (whitish yellow streaks on dark brown hair… hideous). Allison is the secret weapon of some of the most beautiful brunettes in Manhattan (clients include Bobbi Brown and Juliana Margulies). Now, Allison shares her secrets, tips and expertise, as we explore the “dark side.”

MC: Are you seeing a trend in brunette hair color?
AG: More so now than ever, darker hair is more sexy and mysterious. Blonde hair and over highlighting can ruin natural hair as can extensions, so many celebrities and women are taking a breather and going brunette.

MC: Is it harder to achieve great brunette color than blonde?
AG: I believe that trying to achieve great brunette color is more difficult than blonde. There are more underlying colors in brown, there are reds, yellows, and orange tones that all need to be taken into consideration.

MC: What are some things to watch for when coloring brunette hair?
AG: Watch the brass factor, brunettes pull red naturally so do not over process hair or you will have to deal with brassy tones.

MC: What special techniques do you achieve to create beautiful brunette hair color?
AG: Foil and balayage is a great way to achieve multi-tonal and dimensional hair.

MC: How do you judge what is perfect brunette color for a client?
AG: Always look at skin tone and eye color; also look at the natural hair color The most important thing about finding your perfect hair color is that it works well with your natural skin tone and eye color. If you feel you have to put on a lot of makeup (blush and darker lipsticks) then that color is probably not best for you. Your color should look fabulous whether you have on a little makeup or if you just rolled out of bed.

MC: According to a well known NYC colorist, anyone can go blonde. Do you believe that?
AG: No, not everyone should be blonde. Blondes do not have more fun; they just have more roots and broken hair compared to brunettes.

MC: Is it true you should go lighter when you get older?
AG: No, this is a common misconception; you need to stay with shades that work with your coloring. Sometimes going lighter is draining and aging. I use multi-tonal color in my single process colors for gray coverage.

MC: Do you recommend shampoo color enhancers or temporary color?
AG: No, there are too many out on the market right now and it can really mess up your color. Ask your colorist for any hair color enhancing shampoos they can mix just for you, personalized shampoos. You spend a lot of money on your hair color, do not go out and try to do it yourself at home. This usually turns into a trip back to the hair salon for corrective work that can cost up to five times the amount of your regular visit.

MC: Is there a celebrity you can think of who should go back to her roots?
AG: Eva Longoria… please come home. You look more beautiful as a dark brunette!

When I asked Allison Gandolfo if [u]anyone[/u] can be a brunette, she emphatically said NO! Those women with ultra pale, cool complexions should stay blonde (think Nicole Kidman).

Just as I once wished to be a blonde, some blondes have “brunette envy.” According to Allison Bartline, the sales manager of ultra hip Exhibionist Jewelry by Mark Spirito (http://www.exhibitionistnyc.com), “The grass is always greener, as they say. I’ve never been a brunette, so I guess I have never seen it from the other side.” She admits that she hates “having blond, colorless eyebrows and eyelashes. I really do think that brunettes seem smarter, more mysterious, and are taken more seriously.”

She adds, “it is a strange stigma, but I think people have heard (and told) so many blond jokes that they’ve started to believe them. Jessica Simpson and her ‘Chicken of the Sea’ comment didn’t really help.”

To schedule an appointment:
Salon AKS
689 Fifth Avenue, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10022