George Papanikolas, A-list celebrity hair colorist, got his feet wet studying under Negin Zand, color director at West Hollywood’s John Frieda Salon.
“Balayage is essentially when you brush bleach under the hair to give it a sun-kissed effect,” Papanikolas says. “I’ve always been obsessed with blonde hair and color since I was a kid. I colored my sister’s hair when I was 8! Kids’ hair has been an inspiration to me with its dimension and variety of color. I [also] look at high fashion; Gisele Bundchen, for her beach look; and Sarah Jessica Parker, for her multidimensional color.”
When searching for the right product, Papanikolas looks for results (performance) and how the product maintains hair integrity. “I look for moisture and texture, without weighing [hair] down,” he says. “On my own hair, I like using Joico Paste. It gives hair a ‘piecey,’ cool, modern texture—a more pliable, softer feel. On my clients, I like to use thickening spray.”
With help from his boss and inspiration, Chris McMillan, Papanikolas has garnered magazine photo assignments to expand his portfolio. In between highlighting jobs, “overwhelming” Beverly Hills nightlife and trips to Palm Springs, California, according to the colorist, he has noticed some notable new trends in the salon scene. “Everything’s becoming much more specific as far as servicing clients’ needs go,” says Papanikolas. “Instead of one product for everyone, people are targeting specifics—scalp issues, frizzy hair, colored hair. People don’t want cookie-cutter hair, but they do want natural styles.”
With a flare for the natural, tousled summer look, Papanikolas is a must-stop for Hollywood starlets seeking a color boost. In the coming years, he plans to train other hair colorists and stylists on how to translate runway style to the salon.