Marie Robinson, Colorist


"The first time I ever colored my hair was when I was 18 because my grandma wouldn’t let me. She was a really strict Catholic woman, but she was Irish and I was obsessed with wanting to make my hair red like hers. So I did it myself with at-home hair color. Before that I would always play around with other people’s hair, and more than 22 years later I could never imagine doing anything else. When I was learning, though, most of my friends were pretty conservative and nobody was willing to let me experiment, so I’d meet women of a certain age—who were probably my age now that I’m saying this—at the bus stop in Queens and they’d actually let me try things on their hair. [Laughs]

I’ve got into a bit of an aesthetic now and that’s to treat hair color as you might makeup. Even colors like pastel pink or blue... I try to think, if it were an eyeshadow, would it be nice on you? I don’t want anyone to walk around looking like they’ve been ‘done.’ Hair color itself doesn’t have to be as strong as it used to be in order to make a change on someone. I think the technology has changed for the better—it’s much more conditioning than it's ever been and I think that’s wonderful. And people’s tastes have improved. People are much more in tune to seeing what’s pretty on themselves, so [in my work] it’s not what I think is trendy or whatever, but sort of what I think a person’s aesthetic should be. That took me a long time to figure out, and it’s the thing I think most people struggle with.

For myself, I do what is as easy as possible. I love doing hair, I can spend hours doing hair, but I don’t like having my hair done. I’ve been platinum for at least 10 years and I love what it does to my texture. My hair is very heavy and very straight and this gives me more body and lift, but platinum hair is like a white towel—it absorbs everything and it shows everything, so I try to stay away from products with any tint in them. I love Christophe Robin’s Clarifying Shampoo with Chamomile and Cornflower, it’s brightening without being yellowing. I wash my hair usually twice a week, and then I use Christophe Robin's Regenerating Mask with Rare Prickly Pear Seed Oil. That’s it—the less you put in, the less your hair will absorb. But if there is one piece of advice I could give people it’d be to stay their natural color as long as possible. There are days I wish I had more photographs of myself when I was younger with my natural color. Nothing ever makes your hair like your natural color, nothing can replicate that.

I feel like my makeup has become just my blush and my eyebrows. I use RMS because her brand works well for me—it’s all very sheer, without ever looking like there’s a lot going on. I just put Un Cover-Up where I have dark under my eyes, then use the Lip2Cheek in Smile. I like the Living Luminizer because it brings out a little bit of the cheekbone. If I’m going out somewhere, I do a little bit more makeup, generally eyeliner and then two dots under my eyes and a bright lipstick in a coral peony color. I like Max Factor Liquid Eyeliner in Black, and I’m a big fan of Nars Lipstick in Shiap, Goodbye Emanuelle, and Funny Face.

We have an eyebrow guru here at the salon, Landy Dean, who tints them for me. I think generally someone’s natural eyebrow is going to be the best color for them and frame their eyes best—even with platinum hair. If anything, they should have their natural brows more. If I need to do touch-ups, I’ll use a kohl pencil from the art store, and then Landy’s gel formula. I recently started getting eyelash extensions done by our eyelash person here at the salon, but she does extremely natural ones that I don’t have to wear mascara with. In fact, when I got them, people didn’t even realize I did... They just kept asking me why I looked so good and if I’d ‘done’ something. I’m like, ‘No, I did not do Botox, I just have eyelash extensions!’

I take care of my skin pretty much like I take care of my hair. I use the Biologique Recherche Lait U Cleansing Milk to wash my face and then a Biologique Recherche Creme Dermopurifante. It’s really gentle and there’s no fragrance. A couple times a year I’ll get a microdermabrasion up at The Peninsula. This girl there did it once for me years ago and I swear my skin looked amazing for six months. Now that I have a toddler I don’t get to take baths anymore, it’s all about quick showers. I do exfoliating gloves on my body once in a while, and I use California Baby Shampoo and Body Wash with that. I like it because it’s not a major scent. For moisture I stick to Neutrogena Sesame Formula Body Oil, and then my signature scent I’ve been using for years is Costume National 21. I buy it in bulk and keep it in my freezer in case they discontinue it."

—as told to ITG

Marie Robinson photographed by Tom Newton in New York on April 4, 2016.