Story Time: The Perfectly Executed Style Transition Wednesday 27 February, 2013

In need of a hair change, but not willing to make a total about face? Try a “style transition.” Let me explain.

I’m no stranger to über-talented colorist Cherry Petenbrink—and neither is FNB founder Karie—so rather than ramble on about her incredible artistry or why any person would be lucky to spend some time in her chair, I’ll simply say that when I enter Petenbrink’s private studio at West Hollywood’s Salon Republic, I know I’m in good hands. (After all: If someone can come up with the haircolors of a gazillion Capitol folks in the Hunger Games movie as Cherry did, she can certainly color and style my hair with vast ease.)


(Prior to my style transition, my hair rocked a very grown-out ombré that wasn’t quite doing it for me anymore.)

When 2013 arrived, I realized I was long overdue for a haircolor update. Not that ombé is out, but mine had grown out far past the point of looking chic or edgy. (Yes, there is a threshold where this happens.) It was time to make a date with Petenbrick. Something (among many things) that I love about her is her can-do attitude. This is a woman who doesn’t so much as bat a lash at any of my ridiculous style requests; one time, like many clients do, I pleaded to have my haircolor EXACTLY like a celebrity. Rather than give a million excuses as to why this color may not fit or flatter me, she flawlessly executing a perfect recreation of Ashley Greene’s gorgeous honey-dipped locks—and it looked damn good.

So when I walk into my appointment toting a pic of Jessica Biel’s obsession-worthy caramel tresses (offset with deliciously deep chocolate undertones), I know the master would be up to the task. Sure enough, Petenbrink’s excitement over the style is downright contagious. “Oh, this will look amazing!” she exclaims. “It’s a perfect style transition.”


I should pause to mention that I’m a big fan of style transitions rather than going for a full transformation. While going to extremes can be cool, for those less inclined to do 180-degree changes, think about instead developing a look that is your own and continuing to incorporate subtle updates in order to keep your look current. For me, I’ve experimented with going blonde and even red, but I’ve realized I feel most like myself when I stick to variations of brunette.

Before I knew it, Petenbrink mixes and strategically applies a collection of caramel and chocolate hues to my mane. Watching Petenbrink’s application process is mesmerizing. Her technique is totally unique and includes using a teasing brush to push up and separate strands before applying the lightest shade. “This technique helps the lighter shade blend out better,” she explains. Petenbrink then brushes dabs of different shades directly to my loose locks (as if painting on a canvas). Many know this technique as “balayage,” but it’s not an easy art to master (and if you find a colorist who has a knack for it, you are one lucky person—believe me).


(My Jessical Biel-inspired haircolor, spruced up with a new, layered cut.)

After trading stories amidst mixing and foiling, Petenbrink rinses my mane clean, trims me up (adding a few fun, flirty layers to the ‘do), dries and fluffs my hair, and then spins me around for the big reveal.

Now I may not look like Jessica Biel (sigh), but I’ll be damned if my hair isn’t pretty close! A picture really is worth 1,000 words when it comes to helping your colorist execute your vision, but it’s also important to remember two things when it comes to haircolor:

1) Make sure the celebrity look you choose suits YOUR own personal style.

2) You might have to date around before finding the right colorist, but when you’ve found the one, you’ll know.

Visit to book an appointment. —Jillian Gordon


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