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Paint by anything but numbers

Charlotte McKenna, colourist and “unicorn queen”, gets playful with hair painting. Be inspired…

I studied art when I was younger and I’ve never forgotten the techniques my classes taught me. Thinking outside the box when it comes to hair colour isn’t something I do for the sake of it at. Normally these ideas hit me and I just have to run with them. I understand the processes fully in the art world, so what if I transfer them to the hair world? I like to explore new, different ways of colouring but without compromising my clients’ hair.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with going back to the start and watercolour paints, my first love. Watercolours are beautiful when you let the colours bleed and form new shades on the paper. This got me thinking: ‘what if I mix and blend colours on my clients’ hair?’ No formulating, just seeing how the colours would naturally blend on the hair, making new colours as I go.

I thought back to my college days and how I loved screen printing; using a board, you would pull the colour through the screen onto the paper. I had a thought: I could use two balayage boards to ‘print’ the vivid colour on, but how to actually get the colour onto the hair?

I’m quite a keen baker, so I thought about using duo icing bags. This way you can add random mixes of colour each side and ‘pipe’ the colour onto the hair with minimum mess.

I was well aware this could all go wrong and be really messy, so I made sure that I was well prepared. Piping bags all ready and filled, I tied them off with clear bands. I had a few towels on the floor just in case it made a mess, which thankfully it didn’t. This technique cut down application time by half.

It’s quite a simple process:

  1. Pre-fill piping bags with your chosen colours and bond builder (I use new Innoluxe V2)
  2. Section your towel dried hair into small sections and place a large balayage board underneath
  3. Apply colour via the piping bags to the roots and a few inches down.
  4. Using a smaller balayage board, print the colour onto the hair, pulling it through to the ends
  5. Do this all throughout the head
  6. Make sure you have a towel to wipe your hands on and to keep clean. Watch the video for the full process.

This printing technique came out just the way I wanted with a multi-tonal blend of shades, giving the hair a seamless richness of colour. I chose to use Crazy Color for a smoother application, as it’s a little bit runnier than other brands. Like any new technique, I always test out on one of my model’s first, but what started out as play time actually ended up with me nailing a great quick process I can use on most of my clients!