Hairdressers Journal
Hairdressers Journal


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Conversations on COLOUR with... Sam Burnett

What do you love most about being a colourist?

I love the creative freedom it gives me. Colour is versatile and it provides a platform that can make an impact in a reasonable amount of time. Colour never stands still, it moves and evolves. You can use colour to complement or transform – and it is for this reason I love it so much.

Where do you go for your colour inspiration?

People on the tube, youth culture and the catwalk. I believe inspiration is subliminal so it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where it comes from. Recently I’ve been looking towards the ocean for inspiration. Both the natural elements, such as tropical fish and those less natural such as plastic. There’s an abundance of colour in our oceans and it is the iridescent light that has captured my attention. I used this inspiration for my showcase at the Goldwell Virtual Salon Experience showcase last month. with… Sam Burnett

What are your favourite colouring techniques at the moment?

I still enjoy playing around with balayage techniques and root smudging. Creating a seamless, marble effect on hair excites me. I’ve been working with highlights again recently, which allows me to add an element of detail to the colour. I am also enjoying creating a beautiful true base colour and then applying jewel tones on top. This provides a combination of longevity but with a playful vibe. We’re seeing a lot of scalp bleaching in the salon within our male clientele. This is a direct result of the increase in people  working from home thanks to COVID-19. It’s giving people the opportunity to express themselves.

What colour trends are you pleased to see out of fashion?

I’m glad there’s a movement towards embracing white and grey hair. It's good clients are enhancing what they have rather than shying away from it.

Are there any trends or techniques you’d like to bring back?

I love a classic set of highlights. There’s nothing more satisfying than a perfectly applied, full head of highlights. Classic golden and honey tones, old school Hollywood glamour is something I miss. There’s a strong ‘undone’ attitude to colour at the moment and while I enjoy that, I do appreciate a perfectly polished blonde application.

What are the biggest challenges facing colourists at the moment?

Social media has created a generation of clients who expect huge transformations without understanding the time or cost behind it. Kim Kardashian set this trend but more often than not she is using wigs. We build in a conversation around expectations within our consultations so clients can understand the colour application. We explain that certain transformations are possible, but will take three separate appointments. Social media filters are also misleading, so when a client brings an image, we have to explain the effect of the filter. A colour shot in a studio could appear 4 or 5 levels lighter when viewed in natural light.

What’s been your most memorable colour consultation?

In the 1990s a new client came to me in preparation for her wedding. She was growing her hair long and over the course of three appointments we had a plan for how her blonde hair would look on the day. However, during the appointment the day before her wedding she decided to dye it bright red and get a pixie crop – it was a bold move. She had that style when she met her future husband and he always commented on how much he loved it. She was trying to fit the mould of a typical bride but at the last minute decided to surprise her fiancé and be true to herself. It wasn’t until she lifted the veil in church that he saw her hair – I’m happy to say they both loved it.

What colour creation makes you most proud?

I produced a colour collection in 2019 called Tainted Quartz, powered by Goldwell. It was a directional, forecasting collection that took the pastel trend and made it more sophisticated. I used deep, smokey tones and created a more refined colour. I was proud to see Kaia Gerber model a similar colour and shape in Fendi’s next catwalk show.

What advice would you give to a trainee colourist?

Master the foundation techniques and the science behind hair texture before breaking the rules. 

This article appears in the November 2020 Issue of Hairdressers Journal

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This article appears in the November 2020 Issue of Hairdressers Journal