Tracey Cunningham's One Tip For Getting Your Hair Colored

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When I first pitched this story, I had a grand plan. Give Tracey Cunningham, kolorist to the Kardashians (and also Lily Aldridge and Jessica Biel) a stunning picture of Karmen Pedaru (above) Tom took during Fashion Week and have her run a diagnostic of sorts. I wanted to write a “Get The Color' story. Karmen, of course, doesn't dye her hair. Her color is an amalgam of going bleach blond a couple of years ago, some streaks from the sun, and her natural color. Which is to say, you'd need a pretty expert colorist to recreate it for you.

So I called Tracey after her last appointment of the day and right before she hopped on a jet to Dubai (oh, to be Miss Cunningham) and asked her: How would you highlight, balayage, and tone your way to this level of perfect? Put it in layman's terms.

'Bring a picture,” Tracey said. But, is there a way you would recommend— “Emily, bring a picture,” she said again.

This is not the first time I'd heard this from her. She says the same thing every time she's asked about the proper chair-side manner for both clients and colorists (I heard it when I was her hair model at a master class back in August). Turns out, people are not good at either explaining color complexity in conversation, understanding conversations about color, or both. So take words out of the equation because your definition of ash-y blond and your colorist's definition could be drastically different. When in doubt, “Bring a picture,”

Greg Ruggeri was also there—I had no idea he'd seen my hair on display until he mentioned it to me during an appointment at his salon last weekend. I relayed my conversation with Tracey and he agreed. But he also had an addendum.

'Bring two pictures,” he said. “One of what you want, and one of what you don't want. That way, you can show the difference,”

It's simple. It's brilliant. All it takes is an Instagram search or two. Color problems, solved.

The second step is knowing just what to ask for—using ITG's Haircut Dictionary.