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Interview with Celebrity Hair Colorist Rona O’Connor

Rona O’Connor is owner of Beverly Hill’s Lukaro Salon and celebrity hair colorist who has worked with Hollywood’s most famous redheads: Debra Messing, Blake Lively, Bella Thorne, Joanna Garcia, Laura Prepon, Melissa Gilbert, Rachel Boston and Jayma Mayes.

She sat down with H2BAR to share her expert advice on attaining the perfect red and the work she has done on our favorite redhead celebrities:

H2BAR: Can you explain how you transformed Blake Lively’s hair from blonde to red?

RO: I first conditioned the hair, since it was blonde and therefore, more porous.  I wanted the hair to be in it’s best condition and also wanted to even out the surface of the hair, so that the color would take evenly and hold better.  I then used an overall golden-red color wash on the roots and ends. After-which, I added three shades of red-lights from gold to fiery copper and finished with a gloss. Blake said the final result of my color combination looked like the colors of a fire opal. So, I refer to her red as “Fire Opal Red”.

H2BAR: Tell us about the process it took to turn Bella Thorne’s hair from brown to red?

RO: As for Bella, I call her red “Golden Sienna.” I used a Red Level 8 base color and added red and gold lights throughout her hair every other visit. I finished with a golden apricot glaze.

H2BAR: Many are turning to the drugstore aisles to purchase at-home dyes. Any recommendations?

RO: You won’t achieve exact looks in a box because true dimensional color takes multiple shades and an artistic hand. But, the good news is, you can achieve similar hues.

Bella’s color would a be a level 8 or 9 copper on a level 7 natural base.

To attain Blake’s red, I’d keep it safe and start with a level 9, golden copper, since she was going from blonde to red (not recommended on bleached hair).

My biggest piece of advice is to always make sure you follow the instructions on the box. Don’t take the dye off sooner because you think it’s better for the hair because they are formulated to process in a certain amount of time for the best final result. I like companies that give you a shade reference on the side of the box and that also give you maintenance conditioning treatments — it helps the color last longer!

Another thing that is important for at-home maintenance is to use red-pigmented shampoos and conditioners or red pigmented glazes to keep the color vibrant for a longer period.

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H2BAR: As a stylist, do you think it takes someone special to go red (i.e. skin tones, personality characteristics, etc.)?

RO: The color red is bold and makes a statement; whether it is about fashion, looking fierce or just for fun. The color red isn’t shy and everything about it is uplifting. Red hair can suit several skin tones if the right shade is chosen!

Do you have cool skin and blue eyes? You’ll look great with a cool red, either a rubied red or rich copper with ruby undertones.  This will bring a blush to cool, pale skin. Think: Debra Messing.

Do you have warm skin and green, hazel or brown eyes? You’ll  look great with a warm red. Think of a tanned Blake or Bella who has porcelain, but warm skin.

Not every person looks perfect with red hair, but there is always a way for everyone to wear a little bit of red!

H2BAR: Do you think there is a particular hair trend that is timeless?

RO: The Keira Knightly bob! Keira’s bob is a classic cut that is timeless and has a great shape that can soften and bring symmetry to a square or round jawline when cut in an A-Line shape.This cut is always in!

H2BAR: What is your favorite hair trend for the fall season?

RO: My favorite trend for color is light, bright golden reds. I love a bold color with multiple hues and tone on tone shades.

Quick one process fixes with fewer foils, and glosses with tone are the way to go.

For the fashion forward and daring, I think the light, bright golden red could be very modern and something new if cut into a pixie for someone with very feminine features.

H2BAR: Do you advise special hair products/brands to keep red hair from fading?

RO: I love color shampoos and conditioners for in between visits because they reinforce color. Bottled reds do fade quickly and some natural redheads go brown; the color shampoo/conditioner will help keep the red vibrant. I recommend Aveda’s Color Conserve Set. It has been around a long time, smells really nice and leaves hair really shiny and silky. Also, Goldwell’s red color enhancing products are wonderful!

H2BAR: We LOVE Debra Messing’s curls. What techniques do you suggest to attain this look.

RO: Use a 2 inch barrel curling iron with medium heat. Take 2 inch sections, wrap vertical, keep ends smooth inside the barrel (flat and neat is so important!!)

For a larger curl, after curling, tousle the hair.

For a smaller curl, take a smaller section, about 1 inch, and make more curls.

Important tip: Use a flexible curl enhancing product!

H2BAR: What life advice do you have for our wonderful redheaded readers?

RO: Life is too short, so do what you undertake well, or don’t do it at all.