We're kicking off the new year with a week full of makeovers on Who What Wear staffers—from new makeup looks to the best fitness trackers, we're armed with plenty of new year resolutions. To start, a hair makeover on Who What Wear's graphic designer, Sarah Chiarot. She's been chasing the perfect ashy blonde for years, ever since a teenage Sun-In experiment gone awry. Countless trips to various colorists since then have left her hair shades of golden yellow, so we shipped her off to the Andy Lecompte salon in West Hollywood to score that perfect ivory.
Though she considered doing a 180 (going brunette a la Miranda Kerr) it didn't take long for Chiarot to realize she was really just interested in a better, meaning icier and healthier, version of her current fade. A change needn't be dramatic to make a difference.
At the salon, Chiarot showed celebrity colorist George Papanikolas a few inspiration photos, including a white-blonde ombre on Annabelle Dexter-Jones.
"The rule is to stay within a few shades of your natural color," says Papanikolas, who works with clients like Kerr and Kim Kardashian. "Sarah's in the middle of the spectrum so she can go either way." With naturally darker roots and lighter hair, the familiarity of Dexter-Jones' rock and roll fade-not to mention the easy maintenance-convinced Chiarot to try baby blonde tips. Papanikolas added a final vote of confidence: "Going brunette is a major change. Unless you're prepared to embrace it, I tend to not recommend it."
To start, Papanikolas tackled Sarah's roots. "We're going to richen up her natural color and take the roots just one shade deeper to keep the maintenance low," he says. "And because she's been really highlighted we have to go with a warmer tone on the mid-shaft to keep the hair from turning green."
Hairstylist Cristina Rocha cut Chiarot's hair in between the base color and the highlights, to make sure the baby blonde reached her freshly cut ends. Since Chiarot was terrified of losing length, Rocha didn't go quite as short and layered as the inspiration image. "Longer pieces around her face are more flattering, given her face shape," Rocha says. "It's going to make her face look too round if she has a lot of layers on each side."
There are two different ways to score natural-looking ombre hair. "Balayage is a hand-painted French technique that gives a sun-kissed effect; and then there's backcombing," Papanikolas says. "With the latter, the painted hair sits in foil for stronger lifting power, making it the best way to achieve that super pale ivory tone."
After Papanikolas lightened up the ends, Chiarot headed back to Rocha's chair for a blowout. "I usually just let it air dry," she says, adding that dry shampoo's her only go-to product. "If you do nothing else, you should use a lotion to tame the frizz," Rocha advises. She favors Moroccanoil's Styling Lotion
Though intimidated by the new length, Chiarot was thrilled with the icy blonde. A brighter, polished version of what she walked in with marks the perfect start to the new year!