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09-13-15 | Posted by

George Papanikolas knows hair and he knows coloring. He knows what is going to look natural, frame your face and make your eyes stand out. He also knows what’s not going to work and will ultimately damage your mane.

It’s a gift, and one that has made Papanikolas among the most sought after colorists in Hollywood, Manhattan and Dubai.  Using the French, freehand technique called Balayage, he creates natural-looking, sun-kissed color for all-comers. He divides his time between Los Angeles, at the Andy Lecompte Salon; New York City, at the Rita Hazan Salon; and Dubai at the Belle Femme Salon.  Papanikolas is also the celebrity stylist for Matrix.

He was in New York City for a fashion week event, and spoke to Beauty In the Bag about when to color your hair, how to choose your color and how to make the color last and last.

Here’s what we learned:

How do you choose the right color?

Find your signature look and stick with it. The most flattering thing to do with is start with a few shades of natural color and add accents. Extreme change or doing something radically different will damage your hair. If you are a brunette and insist on going platinum blonde, for example, the condition of your hair will suffer.

1. Is gray ever OK?

Most women color their hair to hide gray. If you don’t, you will look 10 years older than your peers. Some women may look great when they are all gray or white, but that mix of salt and pepper leaves you looking unfinished.

2. Does shampoo choice make a difference in color longevity or vibrance?

Yes, you want a gentle cleanser. Clarifying shampoos typically will strip out oils, leaving hair dry and damaged. Look for the words ‘color-safe’ when buying a new shampoo. I recommend Matrix Biolage COLORLAST Shampoo as well as the Matrix Biolage Cleansing Conditioners they both gently cleanse and help protect hair, balance moisture and even out the hair’s surface! Moisture is also key to maintain healthy colored hair. Using a hair mask like the Matrix Biolage HYDRASOURCE Mask once or bi-weekly will help hair stay in its best shape and protect your hair and its color from other common saboteurs such as chlorine, sun and ocean water, which can oxidize your hair, leaving it brassy and/or faded.

3. There seems to be a whole language around coloring hair. What is a single process treatment?

A single process is the name for a treatment that covers gray hair or lightens or darkens your base hair color. A double process is when you do your base color plus highlights. Some women may also seek to alter the texture of their hair with a straightening treatment. If you color your hair, color it before you get a straightening procedure.

4. How often should you color your hair?

Touch up the re-growth every four to six weeks. Stack with the regrowth. You shouldn’t be highlighting that often. You can also try SOBLUR, Matrix’s latest product which is color adjuster. It blurs hair color imperfections in a single process that lasts from five to 15 minutes. It’s the treatment you want when you don’t want or need to have your highlights or lowlights done just yet. SOBLUR will help you buy time between these lengthier treatments, and still leave your hair looking soft and blended.

5. Do women in Dubai want the same things as women in Hollywood or Manhattan?

With social media, the business has changed. Because of Instagram, if a girl does something to her hair color in Los Angeles, everyone else will see it and want it too. Women pull up the same photos in Dubai as they do in Los Angeles and New York. Two years ago, it was about very drastic ombre look (With Ombre hair the bottom of your hair looks lighter than the top). Today, we still want gradation of color but we are seeking a softer more blended look.

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