Use Hair Colour To Set The Tone


Hair normally gets brighter for the spring and summer, and richer for the autumn and winter.

If “cutting hair is the most basic form of cosmetic surgery” (quote Ricci Burns c. 1974), then “colouring hair is the most basic form of make-up” (quote Lester Baldwin c. 1975, now at John Frieda, I think). Getting your hair colour right will give you that wow effect, make you feel gorgeous, take ten years off (esp., if you have grey hair) and most importantly, make you feel more confident about yourself.

There has been a trend for as long as I’ve been around in hairdressing that hair colour gets lighter (brighter, blonder) in the spring and summer and darker (warmer, richer) in the autumn and winter. If your hair is looking dull, you can have natural beachcomber effect chunky highlights to brighten your hair or rich copper lowlights and natural blonde highlights for a gleaming gold shimmer to warm you up. Highlights are an alternative and effective way of adding colour.

How to choose the right colour for you

Choosing the correct hair colour starts with looking at your natural hair colour, skin tone and your eyes, not the season. Your hair, skin tone and eyes can be warm or cool. Warm colours are based on reds, browns and yellows. Cool colours are based on blues, greens and pinks. To work out what skin-tone you are hold up a pink (cool), yellow (neutral) and peach fabric swatch to your cheek.

Cool, Neutral and Warm Colours

  • Cool hair colours are: blonde, natural brown, black
  • Cool skin undertones are: blue, pink (veins on your wrist look bluish)
  • Cool eyes are (normally): blue, grey
  • Cool clothes: a white trouser suit looks wonderful on you!
  • Neutral hair colours are: can be any colour, however, they are neither warm, nor cool!
  • Neutral skin undertones are: unspecifiable! pink, olive, yellow
  • Neutral eyes are: can be any colour
  • Neutral clothes: you can wear any colour clothing
  • Warm hair colours are: black, brown, red, auburn, blonde, honey blonde
  • Warm skin undertones are: yellow, orange, olive (veins on your wrist look greenish)
  • Warm eyes are (normally): brown, green, hazel
  • Warm clothes: don’t wear white, wear cream. You would look great in earth tones


There are three types of hair colouring: permanent, semi-permanent and something in-between.

A permanent hair colour (called a tint) will change the hair’s colour permanently to almost any colour. As the hair grows you will get roots which will need tinting every four – five weeks depending on the colour and how quickly your hair grows.

A semi-permanent colour only coats the hair with a colour and lasts for six – twelve washes, it gradually fades away in a manner that looks natural. Semi-permanent colour is wonderful for adding shine and depth, however, one can’t lighten the hair with a semi-permanent.

The something in-between (I use Wella Colour Touch and L’Oreal Richesse Diacolor) is a cross between a permanent and a semi-permanent hair colour. It works in a similar way to a permanent but fades like a semi-permanent, lasts for eight – twelve washes. It is great for adding condition, vibrant colour tones and the ultimate intense shine.

Don’t forget, highlights and lowlights.

Skin Sensitivity Test

Occasionally people are sensitive to certain ingredients in hair colourants. I will always do a preliminary skin test on clients who are having a hair colour for the first time. If there are any signs of inflammation or irritation, I will not be using that product on your hair. A consultation and skin test will cost £25.

Please read Hair Colour and Cancer then go to Promotions and get yourself a “first time” voucher!

Curly Hair And How To Sort It

© Model: Cassie, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. London

Curly Hair

If you have curly hair and are having problems with it, the reason is usually the cut. A precision hair cut combined with the correct hair style will almost always get the right result. If not, you may need a perm to unify the wave – which may sound a little odd! Curly hair needs special handling; if you want your hair to be curly and not a frizzy puff ball, don’t brush or comb it when your hair is dry. In fact, hardly touch curly hair when it’s dry, otherwise the curls will break-up and become fluffy; use some form of product like a spray-on gel, which will help to create a lasting texture.

Movement, texture and body can be added to curly hair with highlights. Highlights can really enhance curly hair; however, I don’t recommend highlights for frizzy hair.

Frizzy Hair

Curly hair can go frizzy with moisture and a gust of wind. But I am not talking about curly hair, I am talking about hair that is naturally frizzy. This type of hair is crinkly, not curly, it looks dry and damaged although it is not. You need help, a consultation, a truly wonderful hair cut, straightening irons and some form of frizz ease.

Frizz Ease

Apply 1.5ml of oil (any oil, Baby to Mazola – I like grapeseed oil) to the scalp / hair-roots after washing when still wet, this will eliminate most frizz. Note: it will take the oil about three hours to work after applying it to the scalp. For an extra smooth finish also use a setting gel or mousse. The combination of 1.5ml Mazola corn oil and a setting gel or mousse is as good and cheaper than John Frieda’s Frizz-Ease. BTW, I like Frizz-Ease® 3 Day Straight™ Semi-Permanent Styling Spray.

Hairstyles – A Personal Fashion Statement

Robin sitting in my fav. rustic Eton salon!

The two truths are: my sole aim and purpose is to make you look attractive and sexy. a good haircut is the basic ingredient of good looking hair.

However, the main question hairdressers get asked is, “can you do it like this photo?” Well, 49% of clients failed to get what they want because the hair stylist lied about their ability and what was possible to achieve, according to a survey – I will always tell it like it is, so you won’t become another disastrous statistic!

While styles may come and go with the changes of fashion, the essentials of good hair design remain the same. Simplicity and purity of form. Broadly speaking, good design starts from the premise that living is more than just a matter of existing, and that everyday things which are both effective and attractive can raise the quality of life. Well, hair Is everyday! Good hair design is more than a particular style, it is an attitude to the hair’s intrinsic qualities. Meaning, A hairstyle designed with common sense is better than one designed to fit a trend.

The process of creating your new look – as with all hairdressing operations – starts with a consultation. Not telepathy. Before I start cutting I always want to understand and discuss: you, your life style, your hair type, texture and colour, how it falls and grows, and of course your face shape. I’ll explain your options so you can make a considered choice. I won’t be doing all the talking and I will be listening.

There are many diverse influences that go into creating your new hairstyle, the three main ones are: you and how you are influenced by fashion. your hair. me and how I am influenced by fashion. I am influenced by Vogue – mainly. For the last 100 years it has been ahead of the crowd. As you can see in my resume I’ve had my work in Vogue. Vogue is how I keep up with high fashion, it gives me the inside scoop on the looks and styles that make the fashion world tick. If you want to lead and not follow, then you’d better read it. I also keep my finger on the pulse of the fashion world by following the industry Online – Follow me on Twitter.

sandy beach, the sea is rolling in

Now I want you to relax, here’s some visual methodology

Relax, relax.

Cup your hands over your ears, close your eyes and imagine that you are sitting on a beach. The sea is rolling in, the wind is warm and filled with a salty perfume. To your right there is a smooth sea worn rock sticking out of the sand. Look at its shape. Hold the shape in your mind. Now open your eyes and relax. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Explanation: when your hair is sticking out at right angles to your head, it forms an outside shape. It could be the outside shape of your rock. I’m visualising ‘it’ when I cut your hair. Each style has a different shape. Simple. It’s why I find my work so enjoyable and relaxing.
©1975 Ian Robson. My discovery.

There is no perpetual best hair style. All that exists in the world of fashion is a perception in the mind. The perception is the reality. Everything else is an illusion.

The Haircut

Hair grows at the rate of half an inch or thirteen millimetres per month. It may grow a little faster in the summer than in the winter! My cuts have have a life span of about five weeks. Always have your hair cut regularly. I hate razors and thinning scissors – I will never use them on your hair. If a stylist comes at you with a razor, run away screaming and shouting, they’ve gone mad. A style needs to develop. It will always take two or three haircuts to get the perfect shape – no matter who’s doing it. I am available from 07.00 to 19.00 – Monday to Saturday.

SlashHair Update

Persephone, Bath

I’m in the process of updating to make it a little more interesting and colourful, and at the same time turning it into a weblog. Here are the links from the old site: SiteMap – on with the new!

Written by Ian Robson
SlashHair the sex, politics, religion and philosophy of the fashion industry, from the perspective of session hairdresser & stylist Ian Robson – “When you look good, I look good.” Find Ian on Facebook and Twitter. © SlashHair is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, which means: quote me and steal my images, but give me credit by Linking Back.