Let’s talk about retouching and I’m not talking about roots.
It’s been around for decades and once upon a time, it was a look that was pioneered and exclusive to the punk scenes of London, New York or L.A. It signified rebellion and a total middle finger to the establishment. Flash forward 40 some odd years and now there is no denying it, the bright, multi-colored rainbow hair is not only here but has carved out a major niche in the hair color market. As the years progress so does the technology and now changing your hair color from the perceived “norm” to your unicorn fantasy fit for a C.S. Lewis novel seems as easy as waving a magic wand and saying Abracadabra!
So here you are, in 2016, gushing over the latest trends of Technicolor dream hair that flows from Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest like a magical waterfall that makes heads turn wherever you go. This is stuff of your deepest hair fantasies that until recently you thought would remain forever in the back of your head.
You save every penny (trust me when I tell you, this ain’t gonna be cheap), check with your work (Starbuck’s still won’t allow unnatural colors….those meanies!) and armed with your favorite looks from Pinterest and Tumblr you head off to your stylist for the My Little Pony makeover of your dreams.
This is when time and time again; those fantasies have to be separated from reality. This is about taking that plunge with realistic expectations. Those amazingly vivid violets to minty green ombres that are dominating all social media are sometimes not what one would expect them to be. This is when the stylists biggest nemesis, Photoshop comes to rear its ugly head to set you and your beloved stylist up for failure.
I’m not saying that these looks are not entirely unachievable with the right amount of time and money (may I remind you again that this is not a cheap undertaking?) but we as stylists not only have the task of creating these looks for you but we also have to become technical experts in spotting the retouching and straight out Photoshoping of hair color into the realm of impossibility. I’m not talking about a simple Hefe or Nashville filter here, but a hair color that is as fake as a selfie from a Kardashian.
With time and a half decent graphic artist anything is possible. What used to be a pretty soft ash blonde balayage (we can talk all about that in the future) they are able to transform this into a work of art worthy of Picasso and his merry band of followers.
I have absolutely no technical expertise by the stretch of anyone’s imagination. I happen to be married to the Photoshop guru of the Westcoast and over an hour or so, with some minor frustration on his part and a quick tutorial, I was able to transform one of my own beautiful ombres into a multicolored vision. Okay, you got me…I suck at Photoshop and it’s a good thing that I do. I know that my photoshopped picture looks like a nine year old did it in tech class yesterday. However, there are others out there that are not as easy to spot as my failed attempt to fool you.
Please remember to have realistic expectations of the galaxy far, far away hair that makes others envious. Ask your stylist about what to expect, how long a process this is and how big a hole this will blow into your savings on account that some unscrupulous “artist” had the nerve to flat out lie and take credit for work that came straight out of a computer. Trust your stylist and under no circumstances should you ever and I mean ever attempt any of the awesomeness that you see at home.
Remember, it is not the box or the bottle that does the work, it is the hands and the mind using the color that is the key.
-Rick Wellman, Master Stylist and Industry Innovator