George Papanikolas is one of the hottest and most sought-after colorists in Hollywood — his signature highlighting style is in high demand with LA and NYC’s most discerning clientele.
We got the scoop straight from George on the most popular colors and techniques of the season, in addition to tips on getting the hair color you want from your salon. That’s right… no more guessing games!
WorldLifestyle: What’s the most popular color-request this spring?
George Papnikolas: Spring is the time where many like to brighten up their hair and amp up their color. Sun-kissed highlights are timeless, and I have been getting tons of requests for warmer, rose-gold tones. The funny thing is, almost everyone has said they don”t want ombre! But the inspiration pictures they show me are a variation of ombre. The difference is that they want a soft, subtle graduation of color. What makes it current is that it should look sun-kissed and not over-bleached or dip-dyed.
WL: Khloe Kardashian has a fun new look that you created. How can we achieve it?
GP: I started by richening up the base color. This time, I didn”t take her any darker than her natural; instead I gave her a richer, warmer, milk chocolate version. If you are starting with a naturally dark base, you may need to lighten your base color to achieve the milk chocolate foundation.
The real artistry comes with her highlights. I do balayage, a French highlighting technique where the highlights are directly painted onto the hair. I start with fine, delicate highlights at the root, gradually getting thicker, chunkier, and heavier toward the ends. Because I can control exactly where the highlights are placed and the amount of lightener used on each hair strand, I get a variation of different colors, tones, and intensity. The parts that get less lightener only lifts to a caramel, and where you go heavier with the lightener, you get honey tones… the result is a seamless gradation of multiple colors.
WL: How do we maintain balayage?
GP: Balayage should be really low maintenance. By keeping the highlights soft and delicate at the root area, you are able to go three to six months before needing a refresh. If you add the base color in, then you will need to come in more often, usually every four to eight weeks.
The most important part of the maintenance with balayage is keeping the hair healthy and hydrated. Any time you lighten hair, you are more prone to dryness. That”s why it”s crucial to incorporate a repair strategy, like Joico”s K-Pak Revitaluxe. It repairs and softens the hair at the same time, and keeps it looking its best!
WL: Minimal color change with big impact — is it achievable?
GP: Strategic color placement is crucial for getting maximum impact, especially on brunettes. With Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian, I actually don”t put in a lot of highlights. I focus on where they naturally part their hair. By making the highlights chunky at the ends around their face and where the hair naturally parts, you get those bold pops of color. And by chunky, I don”t mean color from root to end; that”s where the ombre effect or gradation of color makes it soft, seamless, and modern.
WL: Sometimes the color we envision when walking into the salon doesn’t always translate. How can we avoid this?
GP: Images are the best way to communicate, but the reality is that your hair has its own color range that”s most flattering, so it”s up to the colorist to give the best interpretation of the color of the photo.