“Hair color is the ultimate beauty accessory,” says master colorist Sherry Ratay, salon owner, celebrity colorist, and award-winning expert. Her gift for creating natural and vibrant color for clients was recognized early in her career and since she has taught “The Ratay Way” to hundreds and hundreds of colorists and stylists across the country on behalf of Redken and L’Oreal. Today, she works with Beth Minardi hair color, a brand that agrees with her philosophy to give the power of shade creation back to the colorist. Based in Central Florida, home to her luxurious salon, Sherry also travels several times a month to Los Angeles and New York where she works at Gavert Atelier in Beverly Hills and Julien Farel on 5th Ave in Manhattan.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you discover your calling as a colorist?
I always say that I was blessed because from a very young age I knew that I wanted to be a hairdresser. Right out of high school, I went to cosmetology school and after graduation I became an associate at a salon for a year. Working as a hairdresser was a dream come true, but I quickly realized that I needed more—I wasn’t fully satisfied just working behind the chair. I enjoyed beautifying my clients but I knew something was missing. That’s when I was approached by Redken to teach. I still remember the very first class that I ever taught and from that day forward I knew that my second calling was to inspire other hairdressers in the art of coloring hair. I spent many years with Redken and L’Oreal speaking about haircolor to other hairdressers, and for the past three years, I have traveled nationally teaching “The Ratay Way” of coloring hair. I am also a team member of the Beth Minardi Signature shades collection.
In your opinion, what makes a good hair color product? What brands do you like to work with?
Hair is composed of multiple elements but the two prominent building blocks are protein and moisture. When we brush, shampoo, style, and color our hair, we disrupt the natural fibers comprising the hair strand. This brings me to what makes a good hair color product. I work with Beth Minardi Signature shades specifically because these three haircolor lines are calibrated with phyto-collagen (protein) and ceramide 2 (moisture) to replace what has been displaced during the haircolor service. There are five basic categories or types of hair color: temporary, semi-permanent, demi-permanent, permanent, and bleach. Each of these types disrupts the natural fiber, ranging from mild to aggressive disruption. I tell my clients and students to think about hair strands as delicate pieces of fabric so that the integrity of the strands will not be compromised and will always look and feel touchable.
Many professional hair color brands have over 100 shades. Are these really necessary? How can a salon stock everything?
Unfortunately, many manufactures have way over 100 shades available for salon owners to purchase. As a salon owner myself, I do not EVER purchase all of a brand’s shades. There are a few basics that a colorist needs when creating the perfect shade, and that begins with a BALANCE of brown, blue, red, and yellow. With those tones, colorists can create the exact shade needed for each client sitting in our chairs. Let’s give the tools back to hairdressers so they can blend the perfect shade for each client sitting in their chair.
What are your three most important tips for new colorists?
- Education: Take education classes from any company that will give it to you. Give it your full attention, and take in everything thing presented, even if you don’t agree.
- Always do your homework: Do not believe everything that you are told, go back to your salon and swatch out haircolor. Ask yourself: what is this company’s gold, yellow/gold, green/gold, etc. Use this information to build your own library.
- Take risks: Success always entails failure. Don’t be afraid, just keep taking risks.
What can we do to preserve our salon color at-home?
To preserve haircolor between salon services, choose the proper regimen for your hair color, not hair, but haircolor. Minardi Luxury Color Care products have been designed with a calibrated nutrition system that features phyto-collagen and ceramide 2. The system includes: Wash and After Wash 1, formulated for hair strands with little or no disruption; Wash and After Wash 2, designed for hair that has been touched by a permanent haircolor; and Wash and After Wash 3, which offers the highest form of hydration for hair that has been treated with a high lift, bleach, or relaxer.
If you could invent any hair color product, what would it do?
When the opportunity arises, I would love to create a shampoo that delivers believable tones. Hair color fades, and unfortunately blondes, reds, and brunettes lose color intensity and shine through natural oxidation. My homecare product would customize a blend of tones into one bottle for each individual client. This will keep salon color looking healthy, shiny, and touchable between salon visits.
As hair color director for The Salon and Spa at Saks Fifth Avenue, Brad Johns defines hair color style for women around the world. His illustrious career in the beauty industry began at Cinandre, and he has since worked as color director for Jean Louis David in Henri Bendel, Clive Summers, Bruno Dessange, Oribe at Elizabeth Arden, and as Artistic Director for both Avon Salon & Spa and The Brad Johns Studio at Elizabeth Arden. Constantly setting trends, Brad has been dubbed the Golden Boy, the Color Czar, and the founding father of the “chunking” technique. However, Brad’s look is constantly evolving and his individual approach to hair color has made him a favorite among the film, modeling, and music industries. His work can be seen gracing the pages of every major fashion and beauty magazine, from Vogue to Allure—by whom he was voted the best colorist in New York.
Tell us about your background and what influenced you to become a colorist.
I’ve been into the art of transforming hair color since 1973. I grew up transforming troll dolls’ hair with food coloring in a very poor neighborhood where beauticians would come to color the ladies’ hair, and they always looked happier after. Seeing that transformation stuck with me.
I came to New York to study acting at NYU and ended up coloring all the students’ hair in my dorm. While at NYU, my onscreen dreams were halted after being told my blue hair just wouldn’t do. What could have been a major life blow instead became a new beginning. My best friend Vivian encouraged me to take my talent for hair and attend beauty school. The first day I walked in for my interview and smelled the perm solution, I knew I had arrived.
I thought if I could transform sad, poor women and make them look and feel better, that would be my career, my art. My art evolved from coloring troll dolls to dorm mates to family to women from all over the planet.
What is your personal beauty philosophy when it comes to hair color?
Hair color should complement the eyes first, the skin second, and the season third. The shade range in which someone should stay is determined by their childhood hair color. If I think a brunette’s eyes and skin color might look better as a redhead or blonde, I investigate her family’s hair color history. If I find those colors in their family, I go with my instinct and a fiery redhead, a honey-wheat blonde, or a chestnut brunette is born.
What hairstyle and color trends are you a fan of right now? Do you like the ombre look, for example?
I’m not a fan of fad hair color. I invented “chunking” in the 90s and use it as an everyday highlighting technique, not as a “trend.” I feel that once a trend like ombre becomes a fad, people get tired of it, lose interest, and then nobody wants it. Trends are just that, they come and go. My philosophy is more about identifying your best personal hair color based on your individual features and lifestyle, not trying to match the look of a celebrity.
Do you have any tips for women to maintain their color and keep it looking fresh longer?
Hair color is an accessory that you never take off. Just like any other expensive accessory, you have to take proper care of it. I recommend specific shampoo, conditioner, and styling aides for my clients so they don’t ruin the art of their great color. Women don’t need homework; I advise my clients on what specific products to buy so they aren’t bothered with reading labels and deciphering ingredients on the back of a bottle.
What do you love most about the work you do?
As long I am helping people bring out their individual beauty by adorning their hair with colors and shapes, I’m doing what I love most. I love the idea that when I start working, I feel like a little kid with a paint brush. My art is transforming people into feeling and looking better.
What comes next for you?
I have over three decades of hair color experience and have been a Color Director at many major salons, including Oribe, Avon, and Red Door, as well as running my own salon. I’ve also served as a spokesperson for Clairol for many years. What’s next is a book I’m working on about how hair color has transformed my life.
After training at Bumble and bumble for four years as well as with master colorist Brad Johns for two years, Miguel Angarita, colorist at New York City’s mizu salon, has established himself as one of the city’s most talented colorists. He has solid color background with a specialty in multi-dimensional color. As a mizu salon educator he specializes in hair painting/balyage and the ombre technique.
He is inspired by fashion, summer, nature and “Hollywood Glam”, and a true believer that “hair is the ultimate accessory and it always has to look great.” Miguel regularly works with Elite Models and his work has been seen in television campaigns for Suave Professionals. In addition, he has been featured in Time Out New York, Stylelist.com, TypeF.com, Stylecaster and The Daily Obsession.