Making Waves: The Color Expert

This stylist has advice that’ll color how you think about changing your hair’s hues.
Photography by Jes Nijjer

A SEASONED STYLIST, Corbin Smith grew up with a mother who owned a salon, which he calls an “extension of home.” After graduating cosmetology school, Smith at first excelled in cuts and didn’t gain true admiration for the art of hair color until years into his career. “I noticed that my clientele’s services had become very color heavy, and I appreciated the control and customization you have with hair color.”

Despite a nearly endless number of hues available now, Smith notes his clients gravitate to certain shades. “Red hair has come back,” he shares. “Whether it be strawberry blonde, cowboy copper, or crimson, adoration of redheads has seen a huge resurgence.” Smith also sees women beginning to embrace their grays. “I feel like it has been an ongoing trend since the pandemic to either work with or enhance graying or even white hair, which I am a fan of. Another trend I see is more of a gray-blending technique, which steers away from high maintenance opaque coverage and gives someone a liveable color without a ticking time limit.”

Smith recognizes that maintenance for colored hair can be tricky. “A lot of brands have so many products to choose from. But in my opinion, your most important ones are a color-safe and sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner.” Smith has more advice for keeping your gorgeous color vibrant as long as possible: Wash hair as infrequently as you can and rinse with lukewarm water. Limit hot tools like curling irons to special occasions. When blow-drying your hair, stick to the low heat setting, even if it takes a little longer. And finally, the more your hair is exposed to UV rays, the more the color changes. So when out on a sunny day, consider a hat.

Smith endeavors to color clients’ hair with pizzazz and in shades to match their personalities. Their reactions are an exhilarating payoff. “Any experience I have with a client that ends with them feeling ‘back to normal’ or saying, ‘This is exactly what I meant,’ are my favorites. That means I’ve intuited my clients correctly, and that’s wonderful to me.”