Tuesday, 4 March 2014


Lupita Nyong’o' not only triumphed in the Best Supporting Actress category for ’12 years a slave’ but also demonstrated an elegant and simple hair look that not only harmonised seamlessly with her sky blue dress, but also demonstrated how very short afro hair can be accessorized to great effect.

Whilst Lupita’s style is very cropped at the back, the use of the simple headband framed her face whilst drawing the hair backward at the crown for an almost ‘hair up’ effect.    In recent years many profile women with natural afro texures have typically used weaves or wigs (such as Beyonce) or had the texture relaxed (such as Michelle Obama).  However, whilst the bob is seen as the classic cut for European hair texture, the short ‘afro’ shares identical classic effect for women of colour.   In Lupita’s case, the pure simplicity of both the cut and how she wore the hair (on the night) was not only elegant but demonstrates how wearable pure afro texture can be.  

Afro texures actually respond very well to silicone based serums.  In Lupita's case, a simple serum would have been applied and the hair directed backward before the headband was put into place.  Afro hair is very reliant on moisture, so using silicone based shampoos and conditioners can be a good move.  Many silicones draws moisture into the hair, in hairtypes that are very curly and specifically afro, this can prevent drying, whilst the coating properties of silicone will cover the cuticle and give increased shine.  Coating silicones tend to cause problems on finer and (particularly) European hair textures, because they draw too much moisture into the hair and (with such textures) will build up with continued use.  This causes finer (naturally) straighter hair types to become flat, lank and even damaged.  However, in very curly and afro hair types, high silicone items tend to have the opposing effect and can give hydration, strength and increased lustre. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Cheryl Cole surprised everyone last week with an Instagram photo of (what appeared to be) a very pale blonde Ombre look.  However, today Cheryl arrived at Heathrow Airport with a more traditional ‘soft’ Ombre affect.     Had there  been a dramatic change in colour or was it a trick photograph? 

 My belief (on what occurred) is this:- Naturally, Cheryl has a very dark base, which requires pre-lightening to display any multi-tones or ombre effects.   Whilst the public are familiar with Cheryl’s softer caramel hues, they never get to see the stripped base shade which lies beneath the deeper blonde (artificial) hair colour she always sports.  When Cheryl posted the first Instagram shot, it appears as though she was midway through her (regular) hair colour process and had given us a little trick photography.   However, after this shot was taken, her usual medium blonde overlay colour has then been applied throughout - to give her trademark softer effect.  This was evident when she arrived at Heathrow today.

This method of creating a lighter foundation to overlay a deeper blonde or soft brown shade is deployed by many celebrity colourists when working with natural brunette bases .  It is also a technique I have longed deployed with my own clients. So much so, that it inspired my product ‘Decolour Stripper’.  
People often have the misconception those celebrities sporting muted shades ranging from deep blonde, light brown and carmel have simply had just one colourant applied.  In actual fact, a darker natural shade requires their base to firstly be lifted and the desired colour applied as a tone on tone to just those lightened areas.  This method is known as ‘chamoflauge’.  However, you cannot deploy traditional bleaching on hair you intend to recolour (chamoflauge) as it can cause the cuticle to raise indefinately and fail to hold the (desired) shade you subsequently apply to it.  Whilst in some some instances, using a traditional bleach can also cause that overlaid darker blonde shade to grab and appear too dark or intense.  Therefore, using a gentle, controlled lightener helps to retain the quality of the hair and enables that subsequent tonal colour (applied) to develop effectively and evenly throughout.  

Some tips I give when trying to re-create Cheryl’s soft Ombre effect:-

  • As you can see from the photographs, the key to good display of a soft Over Ombre Chamoflauge is a well lifted base shade.  You can strip the base shade, but always use a tint bowl and brush when conducting Ombre or Balayage.  Precision is key.
  • After you have stripped your desired areas (be it via balayage or ombre) select a 24 wash non ammonia colorant to achieve your desired (deeper) overlay colour effect.
  • Once again, use a tint bowl and brush and apply this desired shade to just your stripped areas.  Do not apply the colourant to non stripped areas as the peroxide in the product may attempt to lighten the natural hair and could kick up warmth in darker bases and confuse your multi-tonal or over ombre look.
  •  If you are sold on Cheryl Cole’s shade, opt for a chamoflauge overlay using a 24 wash non ammonia colourant of a base 7.0 – Medium Blonde (selecting an ash tone to neutralise warmth or a gold tone to create a caramel effect).   

Creating a lighter foundation and overlaying a non ammonia 24 wash colourant (to produce your desired colour affects) is an unrestrictive way of achieving flexible hair colour looks.   Because 24 wash colours are not as harsh to the hair, you can easily remove them (using a hair colour remover), reveal the original lightened base and then replace with another shade, without extreme compromise to the hair quality.  Whilst I do not recommend frequent removal (in this way), you can quite happily adapt the affect for seasons, displaying more muted light browns in the winter, removing to a sharper blonde in the summer and then overlaying a red or warmer shade in the autumn.  

If you need any advice on your own chamoflauge effects, find me on my Facebook page 'Scott Cornwall Hair Expert'  https://www.facebook.com/ScottCornwallHair