Brush strokes of genius

Hair colour has never been this big – thank you Instagram! We quiz the leading colourists – and a few up-and-comers – about why colour rocks their world

Tracey Cunningham

Tracey Cunningham, Mèche Salon
and Redken creative consultant for colour


There are celebrity colourists and then there’s Tracey Cunningham. Adored by the Hollywood elite, including Jennifer Lopez, Drew Barrymore, Charlize Theron and Jessica Biel, the US colourist has become synonymous with creating beautiful, natural colour for stars on the red carpet and in editorials – a far cry from when she started out as Bette Midler’s nanny! After two decades, Tracey remains at the top of her game. Her work has graced the covers of magazines such as W, Allure and Marie Claire, and she opened her own salon, Mèche, with co-owner Neil Weisberg, in 2012. Regularly jet-setting between Dubai, Europe and the Kardashian compounds in California, Tracey is the undisputed leading lady in the colourist world…

I love Redken Shades EQ because…
I’ve been a fan and a faithful follower of all things Shades EQ for years. It’s one of the top three things I can’t live without – that’s in a group with my son and Americano coffee! The formula, range of tones, and shades are just so easy to use – any other colour brand pales in comparison and I’ve tried the lot.

What does a modern client want from a professional colour?
Thanks to social media, every girl knows exactly what they want when it comes to beauty nowadays, and that’s especially true of hair colour. This makes my life that much easier. When a client comes into my salon, they immediately get out their iPhone and show me images of celebrities or tastemakers with the hair colour they are going for. Most are my clients already in those inspiration pictures, so I know exactly how to apply their colour and the results with Shades EQ is always the desired outcome.

How would you describe yourself as a colourist?
I know what my strengths are and I understand the limits and I stick to it. I’m not into fads or trends – I just want my clients’ hair to be healthy, manageable, and gorgeous.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I’ve had so many! I love my Redken family and I enjoy travelling the globe to educate other hair colourists. The audience and I have a great time and I get to meet all these people who are so supportive of my career.  I get to actually meet people I converse with on social media and that means a lot to me. I just love people and I love this industry.

Craig Purves, Eleven Hair


I love Shades EQ because…
as a colourist I look for three things in a colour range: creativity, results and hair health – I’ve been using Shades EQ now for 15 years as it hits every one of those points. Dependable results and incredible shine, with infinite formulation possibilities.

My advice for a young colourist is…
Being a successful colourist and getting the most from your career isn’t about being ruthless or waiting for things to just happen. It’s about continually learning and putting yourself out there when you can. When you do well, people notice.

Michelle Marshall, Michelle Marshall

@michelle _marshall

I love Shades EQ because…
it’s so easy to use, it’s very versatile. It moves through the hair easily.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
There’s been so many highlights, but I guess it would have to be landing a contract to travel to New York four times this year to work at the Redken Exchange on 5th Avenue. I get to work with two really talented colourists there – Lori Zabel and Veronica Ridge.

My advice for a young colourist is…
Say yes to every opportunity. Expect to do a lot of work for free if you want to get into the artistic side of things. Never give up on your dreams, never cut corners with colour, take pride in your work and maintain your integrity.

Megan Niccolls, Voodou


I love Shades EQ because…
a few of the reasons it appeals to me is that it doesn’t lift the natural hair colour. This along with the consistency of shades that makes it perfect for colour melting, as well as it adding unbelievable shine.

What does a modern client want from a professional colour?
I think the modern client wants seamless, shiny hair, whether that be a natural balayage to a fashion colour, I always use Redken pH-Bonder, which protects and adds shine – healthy hair is beautiful hair!

Harriet Muldoon and Amy Fish, Larry King Salon



I love Shades EQ because…
I love the variety of soft shades and the incredible shine and condition.
HM: …of the gloss! And with Redken it’s all about bringing back the pH. And there’s a shade for every client.

What does a modern client want from a professional colour?
AF: An effortless colour look that feels fresh and exciting.
HM: It’s not about covering greys – thanks to social media and hashtags, people are getting bolder and braver. I have to deliver Instagrammable colour.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Winning The It List It Girl award in 2016; going to Paris to colour models’ hair for a Saint Laurent show and building a new colour department at Larry King!

My advice for a young colourist is…
Don’t be afraid to try something new and working hard does really pay off.
HM: Be open and keep working on trends and techniques.

The Artistic Team, Live True


We love Shades EQ because…
it completely changed our world in terms of colour. The intensity of the hue and the multitude of possibilities to create the perfect tailor-made colour is our absolute favourite part. We can obtain tones that are incredibly shiny and keep the integrity of the hair at the highest level of strength and quality at the same time. Lately, silver tones are on-trend more than ever and Shade EQ offers a fantastic range of icy toners that are perfect for our clientele.

What is your dream when it comes to your colour career?
The dream is to be able to express to the world how fantastic we are.
When we think about it, colour is more than a passion, it’s a way of being, living and breathing!

Paul Bingham, Lockonego


I love Shades EQ because…
…of its incredible shine! It’s a great product that’s got many tones that can be personalised, depending on a client’s need.

Describe yourself as a colourist…
Enthusiastic and approachable. I like to make sure my clients have the best colour experience and service. I do take my job very seriously; I have a lot responsibility as I’m in control of someone’s appearance!

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Becoming an art director for Toni&Guy was big as it allowed me to teach colour in an academy and to work on hair shows and share my colour work with big audiences. I’d love to become a Redken Artist now – I’m working on it!

Claire Bonney, Radio Hair Salon


I love Shades EQ because…
it’s a wonder product, its versatility is its most appealing quality.

What does a modern client want from a professional colour?
A ‘look’ unique to them. We use a carefully designed menu based on our continual search for the current and modern, paired with the Radio aesthetic. We aim to deliver a bespoke experience.

What’s your dream when it comes to your colour career?
To work on campaigns and diverse creative projects, hopefully increasing my travel, too… and years from now maybe work on producing a colour product range!

Samantha Cusick, Samantha Cusick London


I love Shades EQ because…
it is the colour that everyone is using on Instagram. They were creating these blondes and I wanted to do that, too! Those biscuit blondes that are bright but they’re ash? They’re everything! I found the techniques and then it was about getting the right toner. One of the biggest trends is no warmth.

What does a modern client want from a professional colour… and how are you delivering?
Everybody wants that bespoke, tailored approach. Clients are really good at knowing what they want now.