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Patrick McIvor Guest Blog: Rethinking Color

2016 was a very good year in my life and career. I stepped away to develop a more independent/agnostic look at color and focused more on outcomes and approaches used to create those results. From working with the Arrojo team, to observing Ramirez Tran’s approach to hair and watching countless online videos, I love the strong techniques and approaches different colorists have. From specific “lived-in” results and extended highlighting appointments, to patterns and applications that create consistency and always beautiful results, hair color today has evolved to a highly curated look many guests are seeking.  
I think the trends we are currently experiencing are about to change, fragmenting with more variation than we have seen in the past. Five factors will play a big part: increased layering, the return of texture, globalization/global beauty, population growth and Millennials/Generation Z. The future of color has always belonged to the youthful. Since the 1980s, people have colored their hair not to only to conceal gray, but to have fun with fashion or personal expression. Clients may still be covering some gray, but hair color now goes beyond gray coverage to be big business, both in salons and at home. Today, hair color is changing with bright, unnatural tones and hair painting and ombrés moving us forward in disruptive new ways — not historic regurgitations. So, how will these five factors change us going forward?
Increased Layering
Layers have been long for a long time. The shortest hair for many looks has not been the hair in the crown or on top of the head, so things like partial highlights and hair painting worked well because the hair both moved and covered other strands. But, as layers increase, the hair on the top gets shorter and all of a sudden, highlights on top stop and don't have the sexy flow that current styles offer. Increased layering will create a return to placement and more individual strand selections instead of the graduated looks we see now with color.
Return of Texture
From natural to chemically enhanced, we are making a shift to more curls, and that will change what we do and can do with color. As curl increases, refraction of light increases and shine decreases. As texture increases, a different color effect is created. Increased texture will result in new, more dimensional canvases, creating an increased third dimension in which to create and express.
Globalization/Global Beauty
As our world becomes more of a melting pot, what is considered beautiful is becoming more varied. Instead of one traditional expression of beauty — the all American girl, Eastern European, Brazilian or Scandinavian looks ruling the runway and magazines — more individual, unique looks grab our eye. People look like themselves, more ambiguous as to where they are from and more unique to themselves. As populations grow, communication and travel grows. Trends and ideas spread faster too; it becomes less important to look like where you are from. As this happens in more places around the world, it becomes faster to share ideas of beauty around the world. We see traditional tribal looks mix with technology to create new looks, something people like Gwen Stefani and Rihanna have always done. Now, others will too, and it will change color as they set their own trends.
Millennials/Generation Z
Millennials grew up with technology and Generation Z is growing up with it too — neither knew a time before technology. Millennials, like most of us, probably can't remember a time before social media. But for them, technology and social media are different; it’s personal. For Baby Boomers, technology was a way to put money in the bank and social media is a way to see what their grandkids are doing. For Generation X, technology is something they used to create with at work. Social media is something they use to show people where they are, what they have, who they are with, or to find a new partner. For Millennials, technology is what makes things work and social media is how you express yourself. For Generation Z technology and social media are simply how you create yourself. This will change hair color.
The biggest change to how we will have to think about color is, I believe, a combination of technology and social media showing and allowing us to express ourselves around the world instantaneously via images of ourselves. Either by accident or by intentional research, we can find inspiration for ourselves or inspire others with our expression of beauty and color, right now.