How To Make Hair Colour Last and Cover Greys

With clients like Kylie Minogue, Kristen Scott Thomas, and Catherine Deneuve, Christophe Robin is one of the world’s most popular and respected hair colourists. A true artist of hair, Christophe Robin has worked for L’Oreal since he was 17 years old, and now has his own eponymous hair care range. We spoke to Christophe Robin about his incredible career in colouring hair as well as his top tips on how to make hair colour last and cover greys.

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RESCU: Take us back to when you really had the light bulb moment, and realised that colour was a passion for you.
Christophe Robin: The passion for colour came when I was an apprentice, at 14 years old. At that time, we used to spend so much time taking care of hair before colouring it. The products were more aggressive, but at the same time there was the technology of Kerastase systems.
You can have the best makeup but if your skin is not in good shape, the best makeup won’t last all day long. It’s the same thing for hair. If you want the colour to stay for a long time you have to have it in good condition. So I was trained that way.
I moved to Paris when I was 17 years old, worked for Jean Louis David, which was the best studio team at the time.
Once, they called me up on a shoot with Stephanie Seymour. Hair colour was not a trend at the time, it was just to cover greys – it was not the tool it became. But Stephanie liked what I did, and she talked to Elle MacPherson, who talked to Claudia Schiffer, who talked to Linda Evangelista, and all of a sudden, models needed to have colour changes.

RESCU: How can hair colour be used to transform our beauty look?
Christophe Robin: When you wake up you don’t have makeup but you have your hair colour on, which is going to stay there. So colour is a real beauty tool, it can enhance your skin.
When you’re young, you can do anything, but when you’re passing forty, fifty, sixty, colour is the best tool to make you look good. Because it’s going to avoid the dark circles, avoid the deep wrinkles that you have. So, hair colour to me is like better than plastic surgery, you can really enhance somebody with hair colour.

RESCU: What are the biggest hair trends at the moment, and how can we work them into our own look?
Christophe Robin: If you go too far away from what you are, it doesn’t work. With the regrowth, you’ll be maintaining every two or three weeks.
Ombre is doing so well, but when I’m talking about ombre I’m talking about a more subtle ballayage, and you only need to touch up two or three times a year. It catches the light, it looks sunkissed.
Anybody can have a teeny bit of ombre, it doesn’t have to be all over, you can have teeny little pieces that lift, to give dimension to your hair, and to give more contrast and more volume. It looks like you have more hair.
I love red, It’s a trend now, but I have always loved it. To me reds are so sexy and attractive, warming up the skin.

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RESCU: What are some of your top tips for colouring hair when we start to go grey?
Christophe Robin: The first thing that I would say is to stop playing too much with colour and changing all the time. When you are 30 to 50 you should find your colour and stick to it, embrace your personality. I believe there is nothing worse than changing every 5 minutes, one day blonde, one day red – it doesn’t make sense at that age.
Look extremely natural, I believe that’s the key. When you start to cover your greys if it shows it doesn’t work. It makes you look older.
Finally, Take good care of your hair, you need good quality hair, shiny, healthy looking hair.

RESCU: How often should we be washing and treating coloured hair?
Christophe Robin: If you use silicone shampoos you’re going to have to wash it every other day because they create a coat on your scalp, and your scalp doesn’t breathe. But if you use my kind of products, or similar products, you will see that you have to wash your hair every four or five days only. But each time you wash it you do a treatment, you do the real thing. You might use a mask, and your hair will stay clean, as the products don’t leave anything around your hair or scalp.

RESCU: What inspired the move towards creating your own hair care products?
Christophe Robin: At the time, if I go back to that, models loved to change their hair colour, but they were paid $50,000 a day, so I could not ruin their hair.
I began to work on formulations, and products that would be good for them to have. The first two products that I did, the lavender oil and the lemon cream shampoo are still the same formulation since more than 20 years.
If you read the books of herbalists, three hundred years ago they already used sea salt for scalp issues like grease and dandruff. For many women, left over colour residue is a problem, giving them an itchy scalp – so we always use the trick of sea salt. I made a product, I love it, which is a scrub made of two types of salt, thicker pieces, and more little pieces, and it wins every prize. People are crazy about it.

RESCU: Have you ever had an issue with a celebrity that is very sure of their look and you want to change it?
Christophe Robin: The great thing about celebrities is that they’re always serving a story. Whether it’s on a movie, or a new album, so they are very easy to encourage to change. Celebrities are easy because they know their hair is their work too. So, if you tell them use that shampoo, or sleep with this, do that to their hair, they’re going to follow what you say.
Many other women aren’t going to follow your suggestions, they’re too busy, or they’ve got other ideas, but with actresses it’s easy.

RESCU: Who was your all-time favourite celebrity to work with?
Christopher Robin: There are two that I adore, the first one is French, Catherine Deneuve. People say she’s cold, but she’s not at all. She loves to eat, to drink, to garden, she’s so down to earth.
The other one that I adore is an Australian actually, it’s Kylie Minogue. She went through cancer and she’s strong. I really, really like that girl, I like Australian people.
To be honest with you, I’ve worked with so many celebrities, and those two really stand out.

 Image Credit: AmyAdams.com

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