The hair colourist Nicola Clarke may not be a household name, but the women on her client list certainly are. She’s coloured Kate Moss every shade of blonde, Madonna’s poker-straight hair platinum, pink and back to platinum again, and finely-tuned the honeyed tones of Kate Winslet’s Hollywood waves.
So when it comes to new hair colour trends that suit midlife women, Clarke is the woman in the know. The latest colour technique she’s using in her Mayfair salon is “glow lights”, a mix of balayage and highlights to mimic the brightening, sun-kissed effect you get when your hair’s been in the sun.
Consider glow lights the updated version of beachy hair, but more refined and glossy (no crunchy sea-salt spray, please). This is the hair version of healthy, dewy skin.
Moss, 48, is the poster girl for the look, Clarke tells me. “Kate has been on lots of warm trips this year so we wanted to find a way to maintain that childlike glow you get on the hair after being in the sun,” explains Clarke, who has been colouring the supermodel’s hair for 25 years. “Kate has been every variant of blonde in the past, but this slightly brighter face-framing immediately makes the skin look more glowy.”
Clarke coloured Kate’s hair just days before appearing via video link in the Johnny Depp trial. “The whole experience was nerve-wracking for her, so when I coloured her hair we just concentrated on not talking about it,” she tells me. “Having hair that looks good is so tied to confidence, self-esteem and the way you present yourself.”
Glow lights aren’t just for blondes, either. Clarke has recently added glow lights to the actress Emilia Clarke’s hair, another of her regulars. “You’ve got to be careful when lightening or adjusting colour on brunettes,” Clarke explains, “as it’s so easy for brunettes to suddenly go a little too blonde or bleachy.” But not in Nicola’s expertly-trained hands; with an artful mixture of highlights and balayage, Clarke keeps the colour in the foils slightly warmer and softer, simply lightening the mid-lengths and ends, “so the colour lays on top of the hair as a glow rather than a streak”.
If you’re a redhead, you can benefit from glow lights, too. Earlier this year, the actress Haley Bennett booked in with Clarke. For inspiration she came in with a picture of her young daughter, with all of the glow of natural blonde hair. Rather than taking Bennett completely blonde in one sitting, Clarke imitated the iridescent light on her red hair with a mixture of lighter, shinier pieces of colour around the mid-lengths and ends.
“Glow lights is a technique that works for women of all ages and all hair colours,” says Clarke, whose clients are mainly women between 40 and 70. For all women, shiny, glowing hair is always going to show off the hair beautifully. If booking in with your local salon, you can ask for a mix of balayage – which is finely painted colour on specific strands of hair – with highlights that add a glow to the natural hair colour.
Most salons also offer glossing services, which can add coolness or warmth to the hair all-over rather than specific sections of colour – leaving the hair in great condition with a shine that is difficult to imitate with at-home products. But if you do want to work with a deep conditioning product or range to help your hair maintain a glow, Clarke suggests the best-selling Restorative Treatment Mask by American brand Virtue, which her clients use in bucketloads.
“The overall brief from most of my clients over the summer months is ‘healthy-looking’ hair,” Clarke tells me, “which can be achieved through glow lights, glossing treatments and any products that encourage and maintain the hair’s shine.”
Six products to help maintain glowy hair at home
L-R: Restorative Treatment Mask, from £25.50 by Virtue; Super Colour Conditioning Gloss, £12.99 by Glaze; Dream Coat Super Natural Spray, £26 by Color Wow; Elvive Wonder Water Colour Protect, £4.99 by L’Oreal Paris; Supershine Moisturising Cream, £55 by Oribe; Happy Endings Nourishing Balm, £36 by Hair by Sam McKnight