Does anything ever really go out of fashion? We re-visited four massive colour trends from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s with key colourists to see how you can bring them bang up to date in 2019
The ‘60s – Marilyn Monroe and Hollywood Blondes
As Marilyn mania swept the world, perfectly coifed bleach blondes were all the rage. But that hasn’t stopped the trend from surviving all these years later. “Think Gwen Stefani and Taylor Swift,” Jo O’Neill, Toni&Guy international education director, points out. “The colour is clean, sharp and fresh and often achieved by using a global, all over colour.”
The strides made in technology means we can create better blondes than ever, with less damage and purer results – something Paul Dennison, colour director at Ken Picton Salon, highlights. “Toning has also come a long way since the original era of blonde bombshells. L’Oréal Professionnel’s Blond Studio 8 gives you super lift while maintaining the condition of the hair for ultimate care, and with DIA Light you can eliminate unwanted yellow tones from the hair to achieve a perfectly clear result.”
Rob Czlapka, owner of RCNQ in Manchester, points to the rise of pale Scandi blonde styles as an update to the look. “Scandi blondes are a big ask at the moment, getting lots of engagement on social media. Using Redken Shades EQ, we will use the correct shade (blue/violet) to neutralise the warmth and then add a little orange kicker to stop the colour becoming too ashy.”
Similarly, Lockonego creative director Antony Rawlings loves combining a classic blonde with a modern twist. “I am in love with a ‘Marilyn with a root’, creating a full head of baby lights with a high balayage in-between. Then create a shadow when toning the hair, keeping to the root area only, one level lighter than the natural and the ends cool and pale. The real key to Hollywood blondes is they have to looking expensive and glowing with shine.” Like a classic red lipstick, a Hollywood blonde never dates – it only improves.
The ‘70s – Honey Blondes and Fawn Browns
Like a sepia filter, the softer hues from the ‘70s have seen a huge resurgence in fashion and styling – and hair colour trends are reflecting that. Headmasters colour lead Gareth Williams suggests focusing on the undertones to nail this updated look. “There was a lot of warmth in blondes and brunettes in the ’70s. Now we work with pigments that are warmer but are still really fresh, so they don’t kick back a brassy tone. To achieve this for a honey golden blonde, we would lift the hair a shade lighter than needed, so that when you apply your gold is a true reflection of the gold without any undertone to corrupt it. These ‘70s browns are now more mocha, with a neutral root, so the placement of the warmer tones would be lower with a muted root.”
Focusing on colour placement as a way to really modernise this style, Jason Hogan suggests “a slight variation in shade through the face frame and nape to keep the colour from looking monochromatic. Honey blondes and fun browns have an indescribable innocence to them; with current dishevelled, devil-may-care styling the child of the ‘70s lives on.” Paul Bingham, colour director at Lockonego, agrees: “Working with a natural base colour that is a dark-to-medium blonde will get the best results for a golden tone that isn’t too overpowering, and doesn’t kick out too much red. The best way to bring fawn and golden blonde tones up-to-date is more in a cut or a styling manner, which would completely change the look of these shades.”
On such a neutral palette, accessories stand out all the better advises JOICO colour ambassador Dan Spiller, especially “incorporating the coppers and burnt browns that are so synonymous with that era. I love using the JOICO LumiShine Natural Warm Nude Glow shades for a kick of vibrancy and up to twice the shine.”
If the naturalistic ‘70s tones aren’t quite punchy enough for your client, try a more ugly-beautiful colour. “These days, everything is about extremes,” agrees Casey Coleman, owner of Chair Salons in Cardiff. “So why not put a new twist on the classic honey blonde and turn it into a nicotine-scorched blonde? Think way more raw golden tones with smoky hues for a modern take on ‘70s trends!”
The ‘80s – Colour Pops
Clashing two-tone colours and pops of neon characterise this era. Anything goes, in many ways – and as colour is seizing the consumer consciousness now in a huge way, there’s never been a better time to go Back to the Future.
“When it comes to referencing ‘80s colour trends, less is definitely more for most people,” Paul Dennison advises. “A bright pop of colour can look fantastic even when it’s not a huge section. Bold colours stand out more against dark bases, so try small panels of bright tones to highlight the focal point of a haircut – for example in the fringe, or with some disconnected pieces.”
Antony agrees, pointing again to the upgraded product technology which allows for incredible pops of colour and iridescent finishes. “I love a fusion of neon colours in dark hair, think neon strobes. Look at how your clients wear their hair, then lighten the corners and any areas you wish to pop! A combination of balayage and babylights gives a great balance of drama and delicate shimmers.”
Suzie McGill, international artistic director of Rainbow Room International, suggests mixing up your colour pops with unexpected placement – “It’s important to be able to offer modern techniques that can help clients update their look without having to commit to the colour all over if they’re not yet ready to take the plunge,” she explains. Colour blocking techniques and adding panels of brights are a great way to add a fizzy pop of interest.
A lover of all things bold and bright, this decade is right up Casey’s alley. “Let’s face it, we all love a bleed, but instead of mixing in with the crowd, stand out and take a different approach. Maybe a neon shine band or a mid-dye? Or how about some magic eye colour? When it comes to vivids, the only advice I can give is experiment and have fun together with your client!”
The ‘90s – Tiger Stripes Territory
Is there any way to resurrect this look well? Who would have ever thought the ‘90s would have had such a surge in recent years – from the fashion to The Spice Girls touring, it’s undeniable. Luckily techniques have come a long way since cap highlights. Jo O’Neill points out that the essence of highlighting hasn’t changed, but the approach has developed. “In terms of modernising the ‘tiger stripe’ highlight trend, it’s all about the placement of the colour. In the ‘90s it was considered fashionable to have a full head of this technique, which basically just looked like big stripes in the hair. Now, we’re seeing a slight come-back but with gentle strands that delicately frame the face to produce a much more subtle and blended variation.”
Neil Barton, owner of Neil Barton and Goldwell ambassador, is less keen on any iteration of it. “This hairstyle trend is definitely one to be left in the past! However, for those clients who want to opt for a hair look that contains a couple of contrasting hair shades, there are more up-to-date services today that can help with this,” he says, referencing the huge boom in balayage.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t take inspiration from the decade, as Steph Peckmore points out. As colour manager at Bad Apple Hair, she’s seeing plenty of clients who are digging the nostalgic vibes of the ‘90s. “It’s my favourite era and I always find lots of inspiration from this decade,” she insists. “Tiger stripe highlights should never ever be seen again, but a contrasting face frame has definitely been inspired by this. Lots of celebrities have jumped on this trend from Little Mix to Beyoncé. A lighter panel framing the face contrasting against a brunette shade is a perfect look for summer.”