Get Those Creative Color Juices Flowing with the Pros!
By: @webostyle and @thathairpair
Bold colors and bright, creative pops of pigment continue to be very popular in the beauty world. The skill and talent it takes to execute this type of hair color successfully is no easy feat—from the process it takes to properly pre-lighten the hair to the placement and application of creative colors onto the client’s canvas.
After the newest launch of Kenra Creatives, we spoke with Mel and Nate @thathairpair, a married couple and stylist duo specializing in creative colors, to gain some insight and get their best advice for those looking to dive into the 2nd fastest-growing segment in hair color today. They shared a few of their most recent looks with us while giving us insight and inspiration:
Have you two always been Creative Color connoisseurs? How did you get started with this specialty?
Mel: I started coloring my hair fun colors myself at around the age of 14. It’s always been a part of my life. Even in hair school, I was always the first person to jump to get to do fun hair. I’ve always been drawn to it and have worked toward honing my blonding skill to be able to achieve the bright tones for years. I’m constantly trying to learn new techniques and drawing inspiration from other artists.
Nate: I’ve been coloring my hair on and off since I was 11. My aunt did it for me then and I wore a plum color for a while. Back then bright hair wasn’t as common as it is now. I basically did it then with a "piss my parents off" attitude. My wife was working in the salon that we built together when I decided to go to hair school and after my graduation, I dove headfirst into creative color.
What are your sources for inspiration typically?
Mel: I look for inspiration everywhere. I’m scrolling through Instagram all of the time. I follow SO many hashtags and hair artists that’s it’s ridiculous. My entire feed is literally hair.
Nate: I’m also scrolling through Instagram all of the time. Mel and I are constantly showing each other photos of different color combinations. I love abstract art especially Cubeism and Impressionism and feel that I draw from there a lot as well when I’m mapping out what I want to see on a canvas.
How do you go about mapping out a Creative Color for a client that gives you free reign?
Mel: Weirdly enough, when a client gives me free reign, I hardly ever know what I’m going to do until the client is pre-lightened and I’m in the back mixing haha. Even my clients and other stylists that we work with will ask, "So what are you doing?" And my answer is almost always, "I don’t know yet." Lol!
Nate: I start with pre-lightening the client safely and then the wheels turn from there. We work with existing pigment as much as possible. You can go all around the color wheel as long as you mix correctly without damaging a clients hair by over processing. I do a lot of split color. I love contrast.
What are your best practices for going about the lifting process?
Mel: I feel like the best thing that you can do with lifting for vibrant hair is to always keep the health of the hair in mind. Damaged hair won’t hold color well and will never appear sleek and smooth. We also love to shift color rather than lifting whenever possible.
Nate: First I like to think about the consistency of my lightener. If I’m painting I always like to mix a little thicker for control verses a root retouch or a global lift. I like to work slow and low. Low volume with more time. 10-20 volume will get you there and the hair will thank you.
What was your formula and placement for this beautiful, fiery color melt?
Nate: This client was a natural redhead and had never had her hair colore before. We pre-lightened a few levels with 10 volume and melted our creatives from there.
Formula 1 (Base): Red
Formula 2 (Mids): Muted Copper, Yellow, Red
Formula 3 (Ends): Yellow
What was your placement and process for this pink and purple perfection?
Nate: This client was a solid blonde pretty much forever and was getting grief from her family for deviating after our last vibrant color. She posted on social media a photo of herself after the lifting process and a lot of people were supportive of her being blonde. SURPRISE she still has creative color and loves it FOR HER.
Formula 1 (Base): Magenta, Dusty Rose, and Clear for the pink
Formula 2 (Mids): Deep Plum, Violet, and a drop of Formula 1
Formula 3 (Ends): Deep Plum, Dusty Rose, and a drop of Formula 2
Omg, I love this winter mermaid fantasy. What was the formula and backstory on this client?
Mel: This client and her hubby had colored her hair blue at home for a while. She hadn’t had a haircut since 2019. It needed some love. We started by lifting her new growth with 20 volume and in the last 10 minutes ran lightener with 10 volume through the rest. She pulled to a nice minty sea foam color which was perfect for our plan. We overlaid our creatives and gave her a nice trim up at the end.
Formula 1 (Base): Blue, Violet (added to counteract yellow), True Black (for depth)
Formula 2 (Mids): Blue, Deep Plum (to cut the yellow in the mint), Clear
Formula 3 (Ends): Yellow (overlaid over minty hair makes a perfect bright green)
Tell us about this client’s colorful sleek look and what inspired it?
Mel: This client is one of my favorite color models, and we have been doing different looks for over a year now. We were great friends in high school, and the first time we did their hair, they had never had color before. We did mermaid hair first and it was amazing and now they absolutely can’t have normal hair. We have talked about doing a non-binary flag inspired look for a while being as they are non-binary, and this session was the perfect session to do it! Also this client is a wrestler on the side so definitely needs badass hair with a personal touch. This hair represents that we and our salon are a safe space for anyone, and we want to help all of our clients embrace themselves with a little color.
What is the advice you give your clients after a fresh Creative Color service?
Mel: Be willing to embrace the fade. I always recommend staying away from heat tools whenever possible and when you need them, always stay under 350 degrees. You’re not trying to broil a turkey. Never get the hair into chlorinated water because harsh chemicals will strip the color significantly. Our unicorns should shampoo infrequently with color safe shampoo, use cool water when shampooing, use dry shampoo, and last but not least, have proper maintenance. We can even send clients home with custom pigmented shampoos and/or conditioners to help longevity.
Nate: Shampoo as little as possible. The mistake that most clients make is over shampooing. Always (when you need to shampoo) use a color safe shampoo and conditioner and cool water. A lot of clients shampoo their hair separately from their shower so that they don’t have to take a cold shower, haha. Dry shampoo is your best friend. Also be prepared to have a ton of people compliment your hair—OH, and tell them where you had it done.
Do you have any favorite custom formulas using Kenra Creatives?
Mel : I love to use the Yellow with a bit of Blue to make the most amazing green. I love the mixability of these shades. I also LOVE to do the Deep Plum with the Dusty Rose. It makes such a gorgeous almost metallic tone.
Nate: My favorite is half Magenta and half Clear. The Magenta is so pigmented so this formula gives you the perfect bright AF rich pink. I also love Yellow with a bit of Magenta for a bright orange.
Any other words of advice for people just starting out in the biz?
Mel: Education, education, education. Soak up every bit of knowledge that you can. Don’t be afraid to ask other stylists for advice or help. When you stop learning, you stop doing. Push your comfort zone, and never stay in an environment that doesn’t fuel you and support you in everything you do. Also don’t be afraid of social media; social media is your friend.
Nate: No matter your situation, don’t give up on your dreams. Things will seem impossible at times, but know that they will work out in time if you go for it. Also don’t be afraid to try new techniques; you can surprise yourself.