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Hair visionaries: Tracey Cunningham

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Gwyneth Paltrow’s icy blonde hue, Drew Barrymore’s luminous graduated ombre and Emma Stone’s metallic bronze hair, Tracey is the colourist behind each of these trendsetting looks. Regarded by those in the know for creating supremely natural-looking colour, there’s virtually no A-lister she hasn’t weaved her magic on. An appointment with her has become a status symbol in Hollywood. Stylist was lucky enough to get one…

“Think outside of the box. When Cameron Diaz wanted a touch up before the Oscars, I refused. I’d coloured her hair two months before and it looked so cool slightly grown out. She went to the Oscars with roots and everyone thought it looked great. What is expected isn’t necessarily what’s right. If you’re comfortable with it, own it.”

“Find out what works for you and stick with it. There’s nothing wrong with knowing who you are. Changing your colour all the time causes breakage. You didn’t see Elizabeth Taylor or Marilyn Monroe altering their colour. Norma Jean was naturally mousy brown but she knew she should be blonde. I don’t think feeling stuck in a colour rut is necessarily a bad thing. A few choice enhancements here or there freshen it up while staying true to what suits you.”

“Invest in your colour at home. Gwyneth’s hair is in such good condition because she regularly uses at-home treatments. The biggest mistake people make is over-washing coloured hair. Buy a good-quality shampoo – Pureology ones are great – and wash it every few days using styling products in between to keep it looking fresh. People are cheap with what they use on hair but don’t treat their cashmere jumper that way. Finally, brushing from the roots causes damage – always brush from the bottom and work up.”

“Communication is vital. Great colour is gained through teamwork between you and your colourist. Don’t tell me to do whatever I want. I can turn you any colour but you have to live with it so don’t make it about me. I need your input. Visuals help. Rather than saying you want Julianne Moore’s colour, take photos to show exactly what you mean. One woman brought in a red handbag as an example. You can literally bring anything.”

“Consider your skintone. Developing a client’s colour to suit them is an art not a science. Find a celebrity with similar colouring to yours and use them as inspiration. What looks good on one person may not suit another. For my olive-skinned clients I use Jennifer Lopez whereas blondes ask me for Gwyneth’s colour daily. It’s a base colour with lots of fine highlights scattered throughout. Then I use a gloss all over to make her hair appear whiter without looking bleached.”

“Red is the hottest colour right now but it takes a long time to wash out. A lot of young girls want what I call ‘Rihanna red’ but a shade this vibrant is hard to pull off. Take a look at a real redhead; they have so many different colours in their hair so I’ve developed this technique of weaving really fine lights all over, on top and underneath followed by a red gloss all over to tone it together. It’s much more flattering.”

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