Tag:  tracey cunningham Archives - Beauty Banter

Pro Talk: Tracey Cunningham

By | pro talk | 7 Comments

“I first realized I wanted to be a hairdresser when I was 8 or 9 years old and I would do my Mom’s hair like the girls from Charlie’s Angels, Farrah Fawcett or Jaclyn Smith. I grew up in Seattle, Washington and it was in highschool that I met this girl from Norway and she just looked so blah. I looked at her and said, “You need to dye your hair either really dark or really light.” So we picked out a box of dye that we thought would suit her and we colored her hair. The next week at school she was such a huge success and it was at that moment that I realized then how important color was. That was a very Clueless moment; “Oh okay, I get it now. I get why people color their hair.” That was kind of a big deal.

I moved out to California and of course, I got a little lost and I wasn’t doing hair. Instead, I started working for Bette Midler as a nanny to her daughter Sophie and my favorite moments were when Robert Ramos would come over and style her hair. I still think he’s one of the greatest. He just styled her hair so amazingly and I told Bette that I wanted to style her hair in the mornings, every morning. Robert did her hair for all her big events and right away, she let me style her hair in the mornings. My formal training up until that point included doing hair for my Mom and my friends.

Bette paid for me to go to beauty school, which was great. I walked into Estillo Salon where Robert worked and he told me to go to the cheapest school because you have to assist for so long after. Not an expensive school like Vidal Sassoon, just any school will do. And that’s what I did, I went to Marinello’s and it was fine. I realized later that the kids that went to Vidal Sassoon had a much stronger knowledge with hair cutting and were just more knowledgeable overall; but I did assist for a long time after school, so it worked out fine.

When I finished school, I went straight to Art Luna Salon and I assisted Sherry and Art Luna and Sherry decided she was going to start taking Saturdays off, so I would come in and work on Saturdays. It was a bit of a risk because Art didn’t work on Saturdays either, so no one was really watching me. No one was seeing what I could do. One day Art stopped in and he saw me working and he said, “Oh my God, you should be on the floor. You’re really good.” I was really scared because I wasn’t sure if anyone would come and pay me to co their hair, but Art was amazing. For the first six months he was building me and I was doing really well, he gave me Portia de Rossi, Angie Featherstone and Nanci Ryder, who loved my blow dries. Nanci sent me to do Renee Zellweger for the Tonight Show and Renee loved my blow dries, which was good news. Then I started doing her color. At that point I had Portia, Angie, and Renee as clients and then one day Harper’s Bazaar came in and saw me with all these girls because, as luck would have it, I happened to be doing them at the same time. Harper’s Bazaar ended up writing about me and I still have clients that come to me from that interview. That was a long time ago, around 1999 or maybe earlier. Nicky and Sherry Hale, two of my favorite clients, mother and daughter, came to me from that article and I still see them.

After Art Luna, I moved to Sally Hershberger and I was there for quite awhile. I was nervous when I began; I was kind of an outsider and no one knew me, so it was like being the new kid at school and no one wants you to sit at their lunch table. They initially hired me for three days a week and I said, “Well, if I have a client that wants to come in on a Friday, is that okay?” So I thought I would be working three days a week, but I can tell you now, I never worked part-time because people would always call for me — “can I have Tracey on Friday, can I have Tracey on Saturday, can I have Tracey on Thursday?” I was really apprehensive about leaving Art because I  thought I would fail. I also lost a lot of clients too because Art was such good friends with these people that came to his shop. Later, I also gained clients of my own. I worked my butt off. I never said no. Around this time, Allure Magazine did an interview with me, which was so awesome because it couldn’t have happened at a better time. I gained so many clients from it. It was amazing. So I would like to thank Bette Midler, Nanci Ryder,  Harper’s Bazaar and Allure!

When I do color, I try to do what nature would do naturally. I do client requests too, for example, a client said to me yesterday, “I want my hair very, very blond and very chunky.” I said, “Ok,” and she said, “Nothing fine.” Then afterwards, she asked me what this bit of color was and I told her, “That’s the chunk.” So you follow what your clients say but at the same time, you need to put your own spin on it. I spend a lot of time looking at natural hair color, it’s my obsession. How it naturally grows out, how it naturally comes to be. Like when people don’t color their hair, they have natural highlights, natural red heads, natural brunettes, and how the sun would naturally highlight hair.

I used to work with Neil Wiesberg at Art Luna and he and Amanda George had teamed up to form Neil George. They got this space and became partners and I said I was going to leave John Frieda because I wanted something a little more low key, a little less corporate. Neil was telling me about this great new space and I ended up going there. I had a great job, I was the first one there and the last to leave. Then I thought I really wanted to open my own place. I had people begging me to do a salon with them. I had backers for my own salon and then Byron [Williams] had asked me to come over to be a partner. We’ve had Bryon and Tracey for 3.5 years and it’s been a great ride.

I’m opening up my own salon. It’s going to be called MECHE and I’m partnering with Neil Weisberg. Neil and I work really well together and Byron and I work really well together. But I’m really excited because I feel like I should be opening up my own place; This is where I should be. Meche means highlight in French. It could either mean a lock of hair or highlight. For example, if you were to say “I’m going to get my highlights done,” it would be the same as “I’m going to get my meche done.”

Color advice I would give: Less is more, meaning don’t go crazy. Be sure you really, really want to do something before you do it. Highlights are not a big deal. You can go crazy on your highlights because you can always low light them. For example, somebody going from blond, who has always been a blond and people see as a blond, and they themselves see as a blond, decides to go with a trend like ombre, red, dark brown, etc. I need them to make sure they really want to do that because when you’re a blond and you’re a natural blond, they tell me, “Please don’t overlap on my hair, I don’t want it to be damaged.” Well, color correction is basically a big overlap and you really have to make sure that’s what you want.

I used to do a lot of styling and I’ve traveled with Renee Zellweger all over the world and Reese Witherspoon as well. I just did Amanda Peet for the cover of Self Magazine last year. I’ve done a lot of editorial but color is my real passion. I love styling hair but I don’t think I’m a Robert Ramos or an Andy Lecompte. I loved the travel but I also had to make a decision because my own clients would suffer when I’m away for two weeks. Being a colorist, I don’t go on tour, or go on set, or go backstage. Jennifer Lopez had me come to the set to do her video and I was out of mind with excitement. I was so excited. Today I’m going with Kate Beckinsale to the Ellen Show to style her hair and I’m so excited. I’m usually at the salon or in their bathroom. I don’t get to see the glamor of it all. But if you want to build a good business you’re either a salon hairdresser or a set hairdresser. I personally like the security of the salon.” — Tracey Cunningham; @traceycolorist


Bathing Booty: Bryan Smith of Starworks Artists

By | bathing beauties | 6 Comments

Last week I brought you The Wall Group’s Kim Meyer (refresh your memory here), so I only thought it fair that this week I bring you Bryan Smith Director of Public Relations at Starworks Artists, the equally fabulous and renowned agency representing an elite crop of beauty and fashion experts (Tracey Cunningham, Kate Lee, Molly R. Stern, Mark Townsend, Adir Abergel, Mai Quynh, and fashion styling dream team Emily Current and Meritt Elliott, to name a few). And yes, this is a first for Beauty Banter as we’ve never featured a man in our Bathing Beauty section before (note the title change from Beauty to Bootie, Bryan’s idea – and a good one).

A favorite part of my job is getting the chance to interview talented makeup artists, hair stylists, manicurists, facialists, and the like. Learning their tips and secrets, watching their artistry come alive, and their careers grow is truly a wonderful perk of being a beauty editor. And the men and women behind these talented artists – the agents and publicists that I work with on a daily basis – have grown to be friends. Full disclosure: Bryan is one of my favorites. He’s funny (and it’s hard to be witty over email), he’s quick (which is an attribute that I very much appreciate when working on a deadline), and, most importantly, he has an altruistic love for his job and his clients which is evident – even over email.

So, once again, when it comes to great products, beauty secrets, and insider tips, there really is no one better to ask than the person who has devoted their career to building the career of a beauty industry artist.

Here are Bryan’s favorite beauty products and tools and the ones that he can’t live without.

What are your top 5, can’t-live-without products?
1 – Kiehl’s Sun-Free Self-Tanning Formula – 9 to 6 Monday through Friday I’m (grateful to be) trapped at the office, and don’t get to see the outside world as much as I’d like to. This self-tanner is non greasy and gives me the natural glow I’m looking for in about an hour.

2 – Le Labo’s Santal 33 – This fragrance is my jam. Masculine, but not overly so, the mixture of Australian Sandalwood, Papyrus and Cedarwood creates an addictive scent that in some cases has literally drawn people in for a closer whiff.

3 – Diptyque ‘Baies’ Scented Candle – The scent of this candle is perfect. I light it the second I walk in the door every night. It just makes any space feel instantly clean & beautiful.

4 – La Mer’s “The Hand Treatment” – This stuff is GREAT. Super Luxe. I use it almost obsessively.

5 – Marvis Toothpaste Jasmine – Great flavor and a very satisfying texture: Light grit, just enough to scrub, and a great foaming quality – not enough to be soapy, just enough to really clean your mouth.

What is your all-time favorite product? 
Moore Unique Razor Rash Relief Bump Eliminator Cream – This product I discovered in a Waco, TX grocery store about 6 years ago and haven’t been without a tube since. I put it on after I shave and it completely prevents irritation. The smell is a bit intense but the effects are worth it & you can’t beat the price at $7.99.

What product do you buy in bulk?
Malin & Goetz Mojito Lip Balm – I have to buy these in bulk because: a) I misplace them constantly; b) I can’t live without them. I’m seriously addicted to this stuff! It’s a super soothing gel that tastes great and provides long-lasting moisture.

Favorite hair product? 
I can’t/won’t leave the house without Oribe’s Crème for Style. With it, my hair is always frizz free & stays in place all day without being too stiff.

You moisturize your face with…
La Mer’s Moisturizing Gel Cream – I don’t love heavy cream moisturizers and this one is a lighter weight version of the famous Crème de la Mer. Unfortunately, I’m out right now so I’ve been using Fresh’s Soy Face Cream (which I also love.)

Favorite body product? 
Kiehl’s Original Musk Lotion – This moisturizer is lightweight and can be used all over the body. It has such a sexy and rugged scent that lasts for hours.

Favorite beauty secret you’ve picked up along the way? 
Live well – hydrate, sleep, and exercise. And be nice to people.

Beauty icon you admire? 
I’m going to have to go with Paul Newman on this one. I realize he isn’t your traditional “Beauty Icon,” but damn that man was beautiful.

*follow starworks on twitter for tips from their artists, @swartists

Spring Hair Color Trends With Tracey Cunningham

By | hair | 28 Comments

One of my all time favorite colorists, the fabulous Tracey Cunningham of the Byron and Tracey Salon  in Beverly Hills – and Redken Creative Consultant – (known for coloring the locks of such A-listers as Gwyneth Paltrwo, Fergie, Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez – the latter of which has been rocking some fierce highlights on American Idol this season) shares her Spring/ Summer color tips for blondes, brunettes and redheads.

Holy run-on sentence!

Here is Tracey’s trendiest advice for each hair hue:

Spring/Summer 2011 Trend #1: Brunettes

”The beautiful chestnut brown, seen on Jennifer Lopez, will be huge in the Spring and Summer months. A great base with shine and vitality with some beautiful light highlights close to the face creates an amazing glow. Also, the ombré style will be another great transition into summer for brunettes, with the gradation of color as it gets lighter towards the ends. As the weather warms up, even brunettes like to brighten up their color – it won’t get too dark or dull!”

Spring/Summer 2011 Trend #2: Redheads

“The reds moving into Spring will be really strong and vibrant. Emma Stone loves to play with different shades of red, but always has a really strong base of deep, almost burgundy color that gives her that extra sass and personality. Redheads will definitely trend in this direction!”

Spring/Summer 2011 Trend #3: Blondes

“As we move into Spring/Summer of 2011, the ombré style will be extremely prevalent with the blondes. Like with Drew Barrymore’s look, the roots that fade into blonde gives her a natural summer beach feel.”

Hope you have some new color inspiration… I’m loving the ombre look (as I have been seen last season!)… and will def be sticking with the darker roots, lighter locks for Spring.

How about you?

Fall HAIR Color Trends

By | hair, trends | 4 Comments

Tracey Cunningham, arguably the most famous colorist in Hollywood (she’s dyed the manes of celebs like Cameron Diaz, Lindsay Lohan and Jennifer Lopez) and Redken Creative Consultant for Color, is dishing on fall color trends for every hair hue. We also asked Tracey to give us the 411 on our personal prediction for fall: lowlights. Naturally, she obliged.

Mega Trend: Cooler Tones

“When summer comes to a close, I plan to cool my clients’ shades down this fall/winter season with Redken’s new Color Gels Ash Blue creating sophisticated, cool shades. A color is said to have “cool tones” if it tends toward blue or violet, such as platinum blondes, ash browns, and plum reds.”

Trend #1: Brunettes

“Brunettes will go to a whole new level this fall/winter with an overall cooler base. Think Fergie’s shade; her lighter highlights really show through her dark, chestnut base making her haircolor look so flawless and effortless.”


Trend #2: Blondes

“Blondes will be blonde this fall – think Drew Barrymore’s cool, nearly platinum blonde shade for this inspiration. Client’s can often be concerned with the cost to achieve and keep the perfect shade of blonde, but I find that women cut back in other areas rather than haircolor as it’s one of a consumers’ most prominent and most seen everyday accessory!”


Trend #3: Redheads

“I brought Lindsay (Lohan) back to her original roots as a true redhead. This fall/winter, redheads will be more sophisticated, and playful with their beautiful shade, with deep red tones and a few cool, blonde highlights throughout to enhance the red even more.”


Trend #4 Lowlights

“Lowlights will be trendy in the upcoming seasons. Many of us are familiar with highlights which lightens the hair 2 shades lighter, lowlights are the opposite. They darkens the hair 2 shades darker than the natural color. It usually isn’t as dramatic as a highlighted look and can help blend with your natural locks. With many of my clients darkening their shade for the Fall, you will see a lot of lowlight looks on the red carpet.”

*originally published by Sarah Howard on Hollywoodlife.com

About Beauty Banter
Beauty Banter was launched in July of 2006 as a comprehensive beauty blog covering trends, tips and tricks, insider secrets, and weekly must-haves. Beauty Banter has a reputation of being on the cutting edge of emerging trends and product launches so our readers are always the first to know what’s hot and what’s just not.