We don’t mess around with hair color. Any shade that graces our lovely locks needs to be carefully planned and reviewed with a professional who knows his/her stuff. So when we were introduced to Tracey Cunningham, Redken Celebrity Colorist and owner of Mèche Salon in Beverly Hills, we jumped at the chance to grill her on a topic that is hot, hot, hot right now: highlights. Who better to get hair color advice from than the woman responsible for that of Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen and Gwyneth Paltrow, right? Check out what this hair guru had to say about lightening up for summer!

Celeb Stylist Talks About Summer Highlights

MAKEUP.COM: What kinds of highlights will we be seeing in the summer? How are they different from what we've seen in the past?

Tracey Cunningham: Babylights are big this summer! They consist of fine highlights that are placed around the hairline and are much more natural and subtle. They are very on trend and we’ll see them continue into the fall! They freshen everything up and aren’t just for blondes or certain skin tones. I’ve done babylights on many of my brunette clients as well — they’re so flattering on everyone!

MAKEUP.COM: What highlights/shades would you recommend for lighter skin tones? Medium/olive skin tones? Darker skin tones?

TC: Your hair should complement your skin tone, not the trend. That being said, you’re in luck with babylights, because they are flattering on almost everyone. When determining what highlight shade best suits you, have a consultation with your colorist. Start by looking at your natural hair coloring and then find shades in that family. There are a variety of tones that one can pick in each color range (blond, brown, red, etc.).  It’s just a matter of finding the best shade that fits your skin and eye colors.

For example, for blondes, it’s a matter of warm versus cool. Gwyneth Paltrow is the icon for cool blondes everywhere. I keep her really blonde but utilize the babylights to add dimension and create  luxurious depth. When your hair is all one color, you can’t really notice how light it is unless you have something lighter or darker next to it to make the base color pop. Charlize Theron is another classic blond icon. She sports much warmer and more vibrant hair color tones than Gwyneth. The warm blond hues really enhance her beautiful medium skin tone. 

MAKEUP.COM: What are some hair care rules of thumb for keeping up highlights?

TC: When it comes to hair color, your at-home maintenance plan is just as important as what’s done while you are in the salon chair. After a highlights service, it’s crucial to use sulfate-free shampoos, like Redken Blonde Idol Sulfate-Free Shampoo or Color Extend Magnetics Deep Attraction Mask, to help lock in and maintain the color and keep your highlights looking fresh in-between appointments.

Color-depositing products also help to preserve tonality until the next salon visit. For my blondes, I always recommend the Blonde Idol Custom-Tone Conditioner Violet for Cool Blondes  (to thwart brassiness) or Gold (to add golden warmth). I also love the Blonde Idol BBB Spray because it balances, beautifies, and brightens!

MAKEUP.COM: How often should highlights be retouched?

TC: If you have highlights, I recommend scheduling salon appointments every eight to 12 weeks. Typically with highlights, your natural color is woven throughout, which makes root exposure an easier transition as it blends well with the rest of your hair. If you have grays, which typically first show at the hairline, do a touchup every four to six weeks.

Redken recently launched the perfect solution for highlights maintenance with the new Blonde Idol Base Breakers from the Blonde Idol Professional Haircolor Collection. Base breaking services are perfect for in-between highlight appointments as they brighten your natural base color, taking the edge off the contrast between your natural color and your highlights. 

MAKEUP.COM: Why do you feel this look is so popular in the summer season?

TC: Although more people generally tend to go lighter when spring and summer come around, in reality, these looks aren’t just trends. They are looks that are embraced all year long. Getting babylights allows for subtle transition that takes you from season to season, keeps the hair multi-dimensional and creates depth.

MAKEUP.COM: Are there any hair types you don't recommend for highlights?

TC: The look is so versatile — highlights and babylights aren’t just for blondes! I do babylights on a lot of my brunettes. Obviously we don't make them really light or bright but by doing babylights, it makes it softer and more natural-looking.

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