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The Virgin’s Guide to Hair Colour

Salon Era Richmond

Salon Era’s Colour Director Sébastien Pigeon

I must admit, when it comes to colouring my hair, I’m a bit of a newb. I’ve always steered away from colour fearful of the maintenance required for this busy gal. But alas, it was time for change, I was tired of the same old hair cut, same old hair colour. I made my way to Salon Era in Richmond for a session with Montreal-native Sébastien Pigeon, with ten year’s experience at Suki’s, Sebastien joined his former colleague Ken Hung at Salon Era. Ken opened the bright and modern salon in 2015. I peppered Sebastien with questions as he gave me caramel highlights in the secluded VIP room upstairs.

What are the different types of colouring one can do? I’ve been hearing a lot about balayage, what exactly is it?
The different types are ‘one colour, lighter or darker’, “highlights and lowlights’, ombre, colour correction (removing an artificial colour altogether), and ‘creative colour’. Balayage (also known as freehand highlights) is an application technique (just like cap highlights or foiling). The result is a very natural highlighted look.

Salon Era Foils

Can we talk more about how much work it takes to achieve a certain colour. Dying virgin hair vs hair that’s already been coloured. As someone who doesn’t colour my hair a lot, how do I know if I can achieve a certain colour?
For a colour change, the best solution is always to consult your colourist. Sometimes, they will be the only ones who can say if it’s possible or not, depending on their experience as a colourist. Colouring virgin hair (untouched by colour) is much easier because professional colour can lighten untouched hair. That still comes with its challenges, since the natural pigment of the hair will influence the final colour result.

Hair colour will not lighten previously coloured hair (professionally done or box colour from a pharmacy). It will result in no colour change or darken down the existing hair colour. It can also dry the hair and possibly start to damage it. To avoid any horror stories, most colourist will offer a free consultation, and that 10-15 minute conversation is well worth the effort spent to get knowledgeable about the current state of your hair.

How long does colour typically last? How often does the colour have to be touched up? What are some ways that people can maintain their colour with care?
Clients will want to colour their hair as often as their needs dictate it: grey coverage, extreme colour difference at regrowth, their own expectations of their hair colour. It can vary from every 6 months to every two weeks. Typically, clients come once a month.

Hair colour will typically last 4-8 weeks and slowly start fading, but this depends on so many factors:

  • How many times do you wash your hair?
  • Which shampoo and conditioner do you use? Is it colour safe, or colour prolonging?
  • Do you use cooler water to wash and rinse?
  • Is your colour much different than your natural hair colour? Reds, coppers, direct dye pigment colour (usually blue, green, purple) and semi-permanent colours will lighten much faster than regular permanent colour.

The Cavier Treatment by Kerastase is one of the special treatments you have at your salon, can you tell me more about it & the other treatments you have? When and how often one should come in for such a treatment?
The caviar treatment is one of the world’s finest hair treatments. It comes in the form of caviar “pearls” that are immersed in sea water and then release active ingredients like lipids, vitamins A and E and marine nutrients. They’re mixed into a hair creme which is loaded with additional hair nourishing goodies to keep hair smooth and hydrated

It’s an amazing repairable treatments for damage hair, over processed hair, dry bleached hair. It’s probably the best treatment that I’ve used in my 25-year hairdressing career, that can really repair damage hair so effectively. The result is instant, make your hair feel five years younger.

We also carry the Déesse treatment, a 3-step treatment from Japan, which comes with a weekly home care component that improves the quality of hair without a greasy feel. It improves the feel of the hair instantly – even in the most intense cases – providing numerous benefits: silky, smooth, shiny, strong, healthy, moisturized and pliable hair. There’s also a home care treatment: four glass capsules to be used at home once a week for four weeks, extending the life of the treatment. You will feel your hair become the most silky and smoothest ever.

Shu Uemura Salon Era
Shu Uemura is one of the lines you carry at the salon, what are a few of the products in the line that you always recommend to clients and why?

Shu Uemura is like a German car compared to other product brands. They only use rare luxurious ingredients in their products. My favourites are Shu Uemura’s Essence Absolue Oil, Oil in cream. They are the best protective nourishing products that you can get on the market. The Color Lustre series for colour protection and Ultimate Remedy series for ultra damage hair are our best selling at the salon. We reorder bi-weekly because the lines are so popular!

Erica Lam Salon Era

My caramel highlights 

A lot of our readers are of East Asian descent, what are some of your favourite colour looks for them?
East Asian clients lean more towards lighter base colours as opposed to highlighting, usually because they tend to stay away from lighteners (bleach). They like very cool colours, no red or copper pigment, but the lighter you go, the warmer the colour goes. That’s when we introduce the idea of overall full-head lightening. Once in a while, a client will go for it, but usually, they stay away, because the maintenance involves regrowth full-head lightening every time they colour their hair. It’s not always a realistic solution for them.

One very popular colour we’ve been doing lately with our younger East Asian clients is a blend of purple and blue highlights placed underneath the top layer of the hair. We’ve named it “UNDERLIGHTS”. It involved two highlighting processes: one to lighten the highlights, and one to apply purple and blue highlights separately. The whole appointment is 3-4 hours, depending on the thickness of the hair. It has the versatility of being more conservative for school and work (with the top layer remaining dark and natural) and being able to tie it up and having a blend of colourful highlights when they go out at night.

Salon Era is located at 1323-8368 Capstan Way, Richmond, BC. 

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