11 Things To Know Before Colouring Your Hair, By The Balayage Expert Himself

Can you go blonde without using bleach? Is a breakup a good time to change your hair colour? Hair expert (and balayage whizz) Jack Howard gives his tips

how often should you get your hair coloured?

by Hannah Banks-Walker |
Updated on

Jack Howard knows a thing or two about balayage. It may be a technique that was invented by the French, but Howard popularised it on our shores, and essentially reinvented it for the Instagram age. He's now responsible for many a famous head of hair and is certainly the man to see if you're contemplating any sort of colour change. Navigating such change can be a minefield, though. How do you know if something will actually suit you? And is colouring your hair post-breakup ever a good idea?

Luckily, Howard is generous with his knowledge and experience, so was only too happy to tell me everything I've ever wanted to know about hair colour. Don't even think about highlights until you've read this...

What’s the most important thing to think about before you change the colour of your hair?

The most important thing to think of firstly is the commitment – how much it’s going to cost to maintain it both financially and time-wise. Nothing’s worse than having a hair colour you can’t look after. For instance, I love my hair bleached and toned but the upkeep is a real pain. Make sure it's something that works for you.

How important are trends when it comes to hair colour?

We all love a trend on Instagram and, I don’t care what anyone says, it impacts our thoughts and how we feel about hair colour. Some trends, however, are fleeting and can last 24 hours, whereas others have more longevity. What’s most important is being able to communicate to your colourist. What I like to stress about balayage is that it’s not a trend, it’s a technique that allows you to create the trends – the freehand application is what makes a colourist skilled in being able to choose the placement of the colour for really amazing results.

As the OG of balayage, what should everyone know before they get it done? And what’s the most common misconception about it?

I think the biggest misconception is that everyone can be a cool tone from root to tip, when the reality is that all undercoats of the hair are warm (red/ orange/ yellow) and a glaze (toner) will only work for a while and only if you lift to the right undercoat. Toners are only a temporary fix and need to be refreshed. The other one that kills me is that people think balayage can be done once a year. Well, it can .... but it looks like it was done a year ago! It is low maintenance but 3 or 4 times a year is more realistic.

How do you know if a hair colour will suit you or not?

The usual tricks – hold gold or silver jewellery against your skin and see which best suits the tone. Also, make sure you have conversations with your colourist. Usually, the more extreme styles are harder to pull off, but if you want it and can maintain it then why not?

What’s the worst time to colour your hair?

I believe breakup hair is a no-go. I mean, we want a change when it all goes wrong but don’t take it out on your hair. Change your shoes, buy a new outfit but wait until you feel calmer to radically change your hair colour.

Should you take in a picture?

Hell yes! Pinterest, Instagram, whatever it takes, it’s an amazing way to communicate with your hairdresser. Pictures connect the client to the colourist without getting technical or boring – they are more emotional and should be well received by hairdressers.

Is there a way to go blonde without using bleach?

I think that’s a really interesting question because what is a blonde? It depends what base you’re starting from and what blonde you want to be. I, for one, think that prelightner (aka bleach) has a bad reputation historically but they are so fantastic now as technology has advanced. I use Schwarzkopf BlondMe which has a plex built into it. In my opinion, bleach is what goes down the loo; pre-lightener is a lot more sophisticated! Again, it’s a conversation to have with a pro about the varying levels of what blonde can look like.

How often should you get blonde hair coloured?

As a colourist, I encourage clients to book in for a root touch-up every four to six weeks. This is very important as the keratin in the hair is softer at this time, so the colour will go on more easily. If left longer, for example eight to 12 weeks, the Keratin isn’t as soft so the colourist has to commit to a long regrowth application plus add the colour development. This is an unnecessarily lengthy process and will cost a lot more money.

If left longer than four to six weeks and the regrowth application is ignored then the client will be left with ‘hot roots’. This is when the root colour is brighter than the rest of the hair.

What’s the most popular hair colour at the moment?

We’ve seen a shift and everything is getting warmer – coppers are having a renaissance and it’s lovely.

Is there a celeb hair colour that people ask for more than any other?

Lots of people bring in all sorts of celebs but the influencer I get most request for is Emma Louise Connolly.

If you could only give one piece of advice about hair colour, what would it be?

Healthy hair is the sexiest so look after it and don’t abuse it – whatever colour you're going for, it will only look fantastic on healthy hair.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned during your years of being a colour expert?

That you’re not going to make everyone happy, which is hard if you’re a people pleaser like me but I need to like my clients to be engaged and produce good work. If they’re always late, stressful, or just plain unhappy all the time then our colourist-client relationship isn’t going to work!

To book an appointment with Jack Howard at the Paul Edmonds salon in London, click here__.

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