I trust only a handful of people with my hair. Marco Pelusi, colorist extraordinaire and owner of Marco Pelusi Hair Studio in West Hollywood, Calif., is one of them. His growing roster of celebrity clients (Stacy Keibler, Sophie Winkleman, Carol Alt) have the most amazing color; his salon is so relaxing and down-to-earth; and I’m a die-hard fan of his products.
So, with “holiday hair season” upon us, I thought, who better to ask about getting great hair color? Here are his candid answers to my questions, including how to maintain red hair color and how to avoid disappointment at the salon:
TDO: Marco, the hair color you do always looks amazing. What’s your secret?
MP: Thank you! Years of practice. If you want to get good at something, do it over and over and over again, so you have years of experience to draw upon.
Also, listening is perhaps the most vital component to my job. I must have adequate time for a color consultation; to consider the client’s skin tone, what’s most flattering for her, and her wants and needs. While I’m listening, I’m already formulating the proper color, and then I’m ready to go into my ‘laboratory’ and mix! Also, as I’m mixing, I always keep in mind my personal mantra: to maintain the quality and integrity of the hair while coloring.
TDO: What is the most important or best thing you think a woman should keep in mind about hair color?
MP: The most important thing is [to have] realistic expectations, as well as knowledge of the limitations within her hair. For example, a very dark-haired woman might keep in mind that going too light will not flatter her. Alternately, a woman who has done too much to her hair already, like too much bleaching, should not expect to keep bleaching her hair. It’s always best to think, “What will flatter my skin tone the best? What hair color will keep my hair its healthiest and shiniest?”
The very best thing a client can do is to sit in your hair colorist’s chair with an open mind and a fresh perspective! Another plus is if you’re able to actually find photos of hair color that seems possible, and probable, within the limitations of your hair; that’s something quite good to bring along. Realistic photos can serve as visual guides both for you and the hair colorist. As a longtime client of mine always says, “Let go and let Marco!”
TDO: From a stylist’s perspective, what is the worst possible thing a client can do when she is in the chair?
MP: Again, the worst thing has to do with expectations. Unrealistic expectations … becomes a set-up for inevitable disappointment for both the client and hair colorist. There are some clients who are truly never happy with whatever hair color service they receive. Don’t get me wrong, though; it’s the hair colorist’s job — my job as a professional — to point out what IS possible within the hair during a very thorough color consultation. But it’s just easier to come in having an honest assessment of your own hair before sitting a professional’s chair. It’s just trouble-free on everybody, and will ensure success.
TDO: What’s your favorite hair color … if you had to pick?
MP: I just love reds. A rich, beautiful, well-balanced blood red, or wine red [and] an even color throughout the entire hair. Also I always love a Christina-Hendricks coppery red. I love her color. Gorgeous. Redheads get noticed first. Red cars, too.
TDO: Red is beautiful, but it’s so high-maintenance. How do you keep it from fading so quickly?
MP: For newly colored reds, don’t shampoo nearly as often. That’s a biggie. If you’ve just colored your hair red, don’t shampoo for a few days. Let it settle in as much as possible.
Throughout your red experience, cut down on the number of times you shampoo per week. Speaking of shampoo, it’s vital to select a shampoo that prevents premature color fade. You can literally rinse your red color down the drain if you choose a shampoo that’s not safe for color. I created a beautiful shampoo for this purpose. And generally speaking, perhaps overall, excellent home hair care is a MUST for reds. Conditioning as often as possible, heat styling as little as possible — these are good habits. You must spend time nurturing and ‘babying’ your red hair to keep it in tact.
TDO: The dip-dye trend is still super hot for 2012, particularly in loud colors. What’s your advice for pulling this off?
MP: Yes we’re still seeing this trend, and it’s a fun one! I create an asymmetrical cut on a few clients (we have fun with that!). With one of them, I make her a blonde, and I also ‘dip’ the edge of the longer side in a blood red. It’s striking and attracts lots of attention for her. She’s young, maybe 30, and can really carry an avant-garde look.
I do think youth is one important factor here with this trend, both for men and women. From teenagers through the 20s, this dip trend works beautifully. Everyone sort of expects that you’ll be somewhat of a rebel at those ages. But beyond that, I’m afraid you just won’t be taken seriously in the professional world with this look, unless you’re a musician or an artist, perhaps. Seriously. However, if you are over 30, and wish to do something crazy, and if you have some length to your hair, just tip the very ends of your long hair (has to be long in this case) — and cut the dipped tips off after you’ve had your fun. That’s my two cents.
TDO: What big trends will you be focused on for 2013?
MP: Funny you should inquire about reds — because REDS are my focus for 2013! I’m creating a new photo and DVD collection that will be entitled “Hollywood Reds”! I can’t wait to get started. New, creative ways to approach red hair coloring. Stay tuned!
TDO: Finally, what inspired you to do hair?
MP: My family’s been in the business forever, as they have a chain of salons on the east coast. I was lucky enough to be around this industry at an early age. However, at my first year of college, girls were always asking me about their hair, to style their hair. So I started to do hair upon request as a young college kid. When the world asks you to do something, you have to look into it. It was a blast. Fun times.
Interview has been condensed and edited.
Marco Pelusi Hair Studio is located at 636 N. Robertson Blvd. in West Hollywood, Calif. To make an appointment, call (310) 967-0999. Shop his online store.