Portrait of a serial colorist…
The calls began, in 2009, probably inspired by the early phase of young celebs dying their hair shades of silver/ash/pewter. Certain these requests for similarly colored all-over gray tresses had to be a fluke, a fad, a moon in retrograde, but nine years later veteran hair colorist, Anne Marie Barros of Rubann, is still answering several calls a day with questions about how to not only embrace the gray but enhance it to one of these striking shades of silver. In fact, she’s become an expert—the woman you call when you’re ready to commit to the change.
At first, Barros was puzzled, her clients were a steady stream of sophisticated women all battling the natural march of father time (note: the FATHER leads the march) and the havoc he was causing by turning lifelong blondes and brunettes into stripy cats of strange lineage. For years the fashion for obscuring gray hair was to use warm tones of caramel, chocolate and honey and now the opposite is becoming truer every day.
“Gray is an illusion of white against dark, says Barros, and a graying pattern is an individual as a thumbprint—no two are the same. If hair is 5 – 10% white it will appear mainly dark,15 – 30% white and it will appear charcoal, 40 – 60% it will appear classically gray and finally 70 -90%, it will appear white.” Barros won’t transition a client until they are absolutely 100% certain they can handle the change she says: “when they ask, how am I going to look, I tell them I can only transition it for them, but they will have to own it.” The first time, the process will take 4-6 hours and cost approximately $700, so owning it is indeed, required.
The day of reckoning can only begin when Barros sees 4 – 8 weeks of gray growth so that she can see the pattern, after that, the process is quite painstaking as she separates the white strands, wraps them in foil, bleaching them as white as they will get without damaging the hair. Before shampooing the light pieces, she darkens the rest of the hair that’s not “foiled”, to eliminate any warm tones. After that, the whole head gets toned in some combination of white/silver tones. The process takes four to six hours, and the client walks out of the salon fabulously gray.
Although time-consuming and expensive, most clients will only need to have the bleaching process done once and silver toners every six to eight weeks until it’s completely grown out. The only time a client will need more than one session is when the hair is very dark and their natural color is very white.
‘Most women who find me have been thinking about going gray for a long time” says Barros, “I see lots of mistakes: hair that is too dark or lifeless, after years of covering gray. I see women who are tired of skunk lines and trips to the salon every three weeks. What I offer is a beautiful transition is one session. Of course, the hair still has to grow out but the color can be maintained more easily. “
Like any good surgeon, Barros offers instructions on how to maintain color treated hair or any hair, for that matter. “I teach my clients a technique that isolates the hair from the scalp. Women should know “the scalp needs cleaning and the hair needs moisture. They should cut way back on shampoo and protect the hair from the detergent that is integral in all shampoo, no matter how expensive.”
The one-day transitions that Barros and her salon, Rubann, offer is often quite dramatic, and if you are really done with covering your gray hair all the time and ready, really ready, for the surprise, “ says Barros, “it will be a happy one.” Some happy “one and done” clients appear below.