Q&A with a Celebrity Colorist

If you’re anything like me, you feel that hair is a fundamental part of your identity. Finding a hair professional who understands what you’re trying to achieve is like finding a new best friend.

Shortly after David and I got engaged, I moved to San Francisco and had to find new hair providers. I did a lot of research before settling on Studio 323, which is where I met my incredible colorist, Jerome Molles. Jerome had the privilege of training at Byron and Tracey salon in Beverly Hills (a salon with celebrity clientele like Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, and Nicole Richie). He is a perfectionist and approaches his job like an artist. The color he paints is incredibly natural and – the best part – it grows out so seamlessly that I only colored my hair once or twice a year.

I have never received as many hair questions as when I was seeing Jerome for my color. I saw him on a business trip to California this spring and pulled together a Q&A with him on all things hair. Hope you enjoy!

(Disclaimer: My hair is not colored by Jerome in the photographs below! I’ve had no success finding someone as detailed and thorough as him in North Carolina, so I am in the process of returning to my natural, ashy blonde color. However, you can see photos of his work on me in this Instagram post here. He also did my wedding hair.)

1. What are the best products for healthy, beautiful hair?

Women tend to use cheap products, but a quality shampoo and conditioner can’t be replaced. Choose cleansers and conditioners that serve your hair’s needs (dryness, volume, etc.). If you color your hair, a color-specific, sulfate-free line is key for the color’s longevity. (Natalie’s Note: I’m currently using Oribe’s Signature Shampoo and Brilliance & Shine Conditioner.)

2. How often should I wash my hair?

Shampoo your hair 1-2 times a week, max. If you go to the gym and sweat, you can rinse the hair and run a light conditioner through the ends, but don’t use shampoo. Washing too often leads to a dry scalp and dry hair. Also, using cool water is especially important for colored hair. Hot water actually pops open the cuticles and pulls the color out.

3. What are your favorite products for heat styling?

If you blow dry, curl, or straighten, a heat protectant is key for your hair’s health. Use it all over the hair, not just the ends. I love Oribe Supershine Light because it adds moisture but doesn’t weigh the hair down. Kerastase Ciment Thermique is a great option as well. Be sure to wring the hair out thoroughly before drying. Don’t brush or dry when the hair is wet; squeeze the water out to avoid friction.

4. What are your favorite masks and how often should I use one?

A mask is a great option to replenish the hair week to week. I recommend once a week; leave it in as long as you can. One of my favorite, secret, old-school products is L’Oreal’s Mega Moisture Creme. It’s about $10 for a huge pot on Amazon. I recommend putting it all throughout the hair, tying it up loosely in a ballerina bun, and just leaving it all day. If you want a luxury option, there’s Oribe’s Gold Lust Deep Conditioning Mask.

5. How to you grow hair long and strong? 

In L.A., I had a celebrity client who was constantly chopping her hair short and growing it long again for different movie roles. She swore by a combination of Prenatal Vitamins, Biotin, and Black Currant. I personally don’t think what you eat has any role in hair growth or health, but people have varying opinions about this. Seeing a hair stylist or getting a trim is a one time thing, but what you’re doing day to day – the home care – is what makes the biggest difference in the hair’s health and vitality. (Natalie’s Note: I love HUM Nutrition’s Red Carpet, which has 1,000mg of black currant. I have also seen results with Hair Anew, which has 5,000mg of biotin, and my sister in-law recommended the Garden of Life Prenatal.)

6. What should I look for in a hair colorist?

Word of mouth is best. If you see someone on the street and love their hair, ask them where they get it done. Another resource is the Redken database; search your area with the filter “certified colorist.” Yelp reviews and Instagram portfolios can be skewed because clients are incentivized to review and stylists use filters on their photos. I always say that “Your hair is the one piece of jewelry you can’t take off. You have to love it all the time,” so don’t be afraid to interview colorists or set up a consultation before booking. Ask if they adjust their photos on Instagram, and make sure they care about the integrity (health) of your hair over time. Also, the more detailed someone is, the better. If they throw the highlights in, let you sit and have someone shampoo it out, it’s a no go in my opinion. (Natalie’s Note: Jerome customizes color by combining balayage and traditional foiling techniques, so consider asking your colorist about this.)

7. How can I prevent breakage and split ends?

The heat protectant, mask, and regular care will help, but I also recommend gentle hair ties – cloth, bungee, or silk – to prevent breakage around the place where you tie it up.

8. Do you have any tips for girls on a budget who need low-maintenance, lasting color?

The skill of your colorist will come into play here. Ask for a very thin weave on the part and on the hairline so that it doesn’t grow out quite as blunt. For blondes, a purple shampoo 1-2 times a week will also help with maintaining the brightness and tone of the hair.

Thank you for reading! What are your favorite tips from Jerome? Is there anything in your hair care routine that you love? Let me know in the comments.