The Light Side of Color

Christopher Stephens Salon West Palm Beach At some point the majority of us with color treated hair have been there before: You leave the salon with a new hair color you think you like, only to get home and start freaking out about how much you look like Carrot Top. In the light of your own bathroom, those reddish tones or highlights are suddenly far brassier than you thought. What gives?

It's all about the lighting: "You are never going to look exactly the same under every single light source," says Travis Starr, a Premiere Stylist at Christopher Stephens Salon, in West Palm Beach, Florida. At the salon, the best way to get an accurate impression of your color is to grab a hand mirror and find some natural light. "Go stand by the window", Travis recommends. "If you like how it looks there, you'll probably like it everywhere."

Don't trust Instagram: "Clients bring in a picture that's taken in a nightclub; emphasis on the word night, and they think their hair color looks red. What they don't realize is that there are different types of lighting that can make your hair appear red or blue, and the flash of night club lights can change the appearance, too. Dim lighting usually gives a warmer effect. But that's not what your hair actually looks like," says Travis.

At a loss for words: "Clients try to describe what they want with words like 'auburn,' but then say they don't want any red in their hair. Or they'll say they want 'gold' hair, but they don't like yellow. My best advice is to rely less on words and instead bring photos of the color you like or of celebrities or friends with the hair color you like. You'll be much more likely to end up with something closer to what you want," he says.

Light can trick the eye: Most salons, including ours, have white lights in every fixture. The reason being is that white light will show your true color. Sun light is yellow to red light, depending on the time of day, so when you go outside your hair will typically look warmer. Now, when you get home and look at yourself in your bathroom mirror your hair may appear even warmer. That's because most bathrooms are equipped with warm light bulbs, so the combination of the darker surrounds and the yellow lights your hair will typically reflect the warmer colors.

Summing it up:  With so many light sources, whether incandescent, florescent, halogen or good old fashioned sun light your hair will always look different; not bad, not good, just different. Travis recommends, "After you get your fab new color and high lights and just before you take that first selfie to show off to your friend, remember one small detail that every photographer and cinematographer knows; and that is, remember the "Golden Hour". The Golden Hour in photography is the period just after sun-up or just before sun down. That is the time when the sun is at its most flattering for photography. Towards the  middle of the day sun light becomes more red and less flattering.   

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