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Secrets of a Color Whisperer

dylThere are many things that I love about working at Vain Beautyworld. Mostly, it is the other people who work there. The staff is an interesting, eclectic and talented bunch of people who are eager to learn and share what they know. There is a strong spirit of community and support at Vain that keeps us there.

Vain stylists are carefully curated by a selective process which determines who is good Vain material. Unlike many salons that would value a stylists ability to conform, Vain flips the whole thing upside down. Being open-minded, eager to learn, and having a strong sense of personal style are crucial.

DylanMeet Dylan. She started at Vain at the front desk in 2009, and then went to beauty school and started hairstyling 2 years ago. Here is a link to her Vain profile for more specifics, and you can follow her on Instagram at @hairbydylan.

Dylan is a masterful hair color chameleon. She pulls off the almost-impossible color changes on her own hair and her client’s hair in a creative and thoughtful ways. If you could watch her work, you would understand. It is a precise, methodical, beautiful explosion of perfectly toned colors.

After writing Do’s and Don’ts of DIY color, I decided that interviewing Dylan was necessary to get some juicy bits of color knowledge from a pro who also DIY’s her hair.

So for DIY hair-do-ers, salon go-ers, and stylists alike, read ahead for some super special secrets from the color whisperer.


Interview Dylan McCord, master hair colorist.


Dylan, we want to know how you pull off changing your hair color so often and having it look consistently great. To begin with, what color changes has your fantastic hair seen in the past 12 months?


I started the year with baby pink, then went to grey, then purple, neon green, copper, blonde, red, black, brown, rose gold, magenta, kimchi pink, and now peach.


How many times have you had to bleach your hair to achieve that range of color?

I’ve only used bleach on my hair during my transition from pre-black brown to where I am now:) 4 times total: bleach and tone, foil and two French shampoos. The process took a little over a month with treatments in between each process.





What is your secret to changing your hair color often and achieving the perfect shade? 

I would say timing and patience is key! Trial and error. It definitely helps to have a very solid knowledge of color theory before you start coloring. If you can break down the whole process to the specifics and follow the rules of the color wheel you can’t really go wrong.

You have to be willing to take care of the health of your hair, though. That is really important.

How do you keep your color fresh?

I don’t wash too often. I like to add some of my hair color pigment into my conditioner and use it every other time I condition to add a little color back in. (This only works with deposit-only color but is a great way to maintain bright hair hues!)

My color is always changing though, so I am constantly re-toning and conditioning to keep it fresh and healthy.

Where do you get hair color inspiration?

I am constantly inspired by other stylists hair, nature of course, and a good challenge…..I love making the impossible possible with hair. Making hair dreams come true!

When you decide on a hair color, how do you prepare your hair for the process?

I use Redken Extreme Cat Protein Reconstructing Treatment Spray to rebuild protein and strength. I will do it maybe twice a week for a couple weeks before and after bleaching. You don’t want to overdo it with protein, though because it will make your hair brittle.  Also, Redken Cat needs to followed with a deep conditioner, as a two step process. I like to use Davines Nourishing Vegeterian Miracle for a deep moisture treatment.

Because I like having the freedom to change my hair color frequently,  I am always planning ahead for future hair colors down the line. So frequent conditioning, and strategic tone and color choices so that I know what will look good and be easy to remove in the future.

What are your go-to products or methods for color removal?

My favorite way to remove color without bleach is mixing deep cleansing shampoo like Maxi Wash by KM with a lot of baking soda and applying it thick all over the hair then sitting under heat with it. It will eat up so much color! You can do it a couple of times in a row if you need to.

I save the french shampooing for removing really stubborn color that the Maxi Wash and BS won’t strip out. Vitamin C works alright, and I’m not a big fan of Color Ooops. Rusk Eliminate smells really bad and it is unreliable.

What is your go-too toner for toning out that baby chick bleach brassiness?

I often use Wella Color Charm T18 White Lady toner to cool down bleached hair before coloring. You have to consider the tones left in bleached hair before re-coloring. Using a toner before a veggie dye really helps to get you to just the right shade, especially with the more muted and pastel tones that are so in right now.

What is your go-to veggie dye company?

I love them all. I’m constantly mixing and cocktailing them. I’m loving the Pravana colors because they tend to be more primary and really mixable. Special Effects colors are great of course, although they need to step up their game a bit. And I’m starting to come around with Manic Panic.

What has been your personal favorite hair color?

IMG_9750I really loved the red. I bleached out my black hair to a level 7 or 8 copper, then applied Special Effects Hot Lava over it. It was so beautiful and rich. I also loved my IMG_9727 IMG_9725 Special Effects Blue Haired Freak and Fishbowl Blue cocktail, and the whole progression from that to pastel pink was beautiful. Pretty light blues, purples and pinks. It was unicorn hair all the way.

And I continue to go back to pink because it has so many variations and it doesn’t set you back because it is an easy color to remove without having to re-bleach.


What was your least favorite?

IMG_9746I didn’t love super gold yellow. It washed me out. But I loved what happened after I applied dark blue over it!



What aspect of hair coloring are you comfortable with DIY-ing? At what point would you have a fellow stylist of friend help you?

I am totally fine putting an all over color on my own head. Balayage with bleach I would DIY. I cut my own hair all the time.

All over bleaching and foiling? I would ask a friend for help, mostly for timing sake. It is quicker when someone else does it and sometimes you really need speed!

Ideally though, I would pop my own head off and just do it myself any time.

Who are your hair color inspirations?

Hmmmmm……….That is going to take a while. Let’s come back to that one……..

(later on)

Okay my inspirations are definitely Siouxsie Sioux, and Jem (and the Holograms.) And Frenchie from Grease.

What are your favorite hair products, in general?

I love Shiny Dancer for heat styling, moisture, and as an end treatment. Kevin Murphy Anti Gravity Spray for blow-drying. And Schwarzkop Dust It for bangs and creating interior hold and texture and oil absorption.

What advice would you give someone who has their heart set on a very specific hair color overhaul?

I guess that anything is possible if you are willing to take it slow and be patient. Sometimes you have to decide between having a fantastic color and having healthy hair, and often its worth it for the color!

The first time I bleached my hair it felt very different and damaged but I took care of it and it regained it’s health and strength. The color was so beautiful and new to me that I didn’t mind that it was damaged…..I had achieved a hair color goal that I thought was impossible.

Dylan, we salute you and your hair knowledge and your great hair, in general.


To end this post on a bit of a different note my dears, I learned a trick recently about removing hair color stains from clothes that I wish I would have learned years ago. Hand Sanitizer. Yep. Put it on your color spots asap, and watch them disappear before your very eyes. Why just the other day I saved my favorite pair of jeans from permanent purple spots.

Thanks for being here!

If you are a DIY hair-cutter who is curious about DIY home-hair coloring, I highly recommend using DIY hair color by Madison Reed, which Resorcinol-Free.

If you purchase a Madison Reed Radiant Color Kit, you will receive not only the colors of hair colors your choice, but also the necessary tools to apply it. The entire line is designed for the DIY hair colorer! And if you need to tone in between coloring, be sure to check out their Color Reviving Gloss to refresh and revive your hair.

Also, I recommend a shopping stop at Beauty Store Depot for all your other DIY hair cutting and coloring tools to fill your toolkit!

Need a custom DIY hair color consultation to help troubleshoot your hair color at home?

ad$30 buys you a one-on-one online consultation with HTHG regarding your color and how to get it where you want it. Click here.

xoxo, HTHG

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