As I mentioned recently, arrogantly and in a way that assumed you cared, my natural, colour-free hair is fine. Way too fine. Floppy, flat, dirty-in-two days, fine. I enjoy its colour very much, but its texture can suck a doz.
So I decided to have some “underlighting” done, a word I have coined (heck, let’s say dollared) which refers to having highlights painted on around the head, but with the following provisions:
They must not create the issue of “roots”
They must not be applied to or visible on the top layer of hair, but rather, underneath
Maintenance must be at an all time-low
The colour of the highlights must be very close to the natural hair colour
There must be enough of them to create a marked improvement in hair texture, “grip” and body
And so, with that list of cool and easy going rules, (written out helpfully here today in a way that you can use/remember them should YOU be interested in this technique) I slithered into the salon* of one Barney Martin (whose idea it was for me to boof up my hair with highlights for texture inspired all of this) and after a consultation with colour king, James Pearce (who got me from all-over blonde back to convincing brunette in a swift two-hour seating last year) I was lovingly given my underlights.
James explained that they would use two shades of high lift tint, (so, ammonia not bleach), one that was two shades lighter than my base, and one that was a shade or two darker. This meant, James explained, that there would be plenty of contrast, but it would look extremely natural. I liked this. Stephanie, a very talented colourist with the kind of wash-n-go texture that permits her not only short hair, but also a fringe (show-off) applied the colour masterfully, and an hour and a half later it was done.
In the continuing quest for volume, however, I had James cut my hair. There were still some layers in there, which is a shame since I’d had two blunt one-length cuts in the past three months, (the ones around my face I can handle – adds some softness) but the thing about layers is that they cling on to your hair like the scent of fish after cooking. And layers, you see, are the last thing fine-haired dames need, especially when the hair is long, and there are curls lurking around, smoking ciggies until they’re next allowed to roam free.
So, we cut it all one length, and quite a fair amount shorter. I instantly felt more me, and more stylish with the length. To me, long hair feels “pretty,” but slicing it off on the collarbones or above feels more … chic.
Here’s the “before” shot. What a godamn mess.
All that bleach ruining the last few inches of hair, all those limp curls…
And now, here are a bunch photos taken by either me or Mario Testino, I can never remember, in order to show the different lights of the colour.
It looks, overall, a touch lighter, but so very, very genuinely naturally coloured, as if I just happened to be born with the most awesome, flecky, contrasty shade of brunette. It looks like the same natural brunette colour I’ve worked so hard to grow out, but there is all this excitement hiding underneath. If I was being unashamedly braggy, I would say that I feel a bit like I just got the hair colour of a bird in a ’90s Ralph Lauren ad, or Ms Brooke Shields in her Blue Lagoon days. And that’s all I could ever hope for.
More importantly it FEELS thicker, it’s got a lot more texture (the haircut assists this greatly) and I just got almost five days out of it (not even from the salon blow-dry, from my own!)
If you’re a fine haired Shezzi who craves texture, contrast and body but NOT regrowth, then you may just enjoy this underlighting biz.
*Speaking (“writing/reading”) of salons, have you added your favourite salon to the fruitybeauty Personal Beauty Army post?