Hair colourist Jack Howard: My Colourful World

Jack Howard is a global celebrity hair colourist based at Paul Edmonds London. He has tended the tresses of stars including Poppy Delevingne and Suki Waterhouse and is widely credited with bringing Balayage to the UK. He is also L’Oreal Professionnel UK Colour spokesperson, as well as teaching at Toni & Guy and Trevor Sorbie. Here, he tells Martha Roberts, creator of The Colour File, about what colour means to him…

Martha: Can you describe your first colour memory?
Jack: I had to think for a minute for this one as my world is full of colour, but I actually think it was in the garden with dandelions and buttercups, so yellows and green.

Martha: Do you have a favourite colour and has this changed over the years?
Jack: I love gemstone colours; I once had a house where all the furniture was really colourful and the walls were white – I just loved it but hey, marriage brings compromise, so it’s not so vivid now!

Martha: What is your favourite colourful object/objects and why?
Jack: I have a hand-blown purple bowl that I bought in Martha’s Vinyard that I love, and two amber glass ladies.

Jack’s purple glass bowl
…and one of his amber glass ladies.

Martha: How does colour make you feel?
Colour excites me, not just hair colour but any colours. I love seeing the options and shades and how other people use colour to influence mood, inspire hope and have fun with.

Martha: Do you have a colour you could happily do without?
Jack: I just love colour, so no – I’m drawn to oranges, yellows and reds though…

Martha: What does colour mean to you in your day-to-day life?
Colour is my job and in my life as a hair colourist I’m always working on delivering the right shade for the right woman. I can weigh up skin tone, eye colour and know immediately what will suit them. In hair colour, I love natural looking shades, especially hand painted blondes that look like the sun has kissed the hair, rather than been under my brush. But in other areas of my life, I love bright colour.

Martha: Do you think there are rules about colour or are rules made to be broken?
Jack: Like anything, rules are made to be broken: one month people are saying you can’t mix patterns then someone does and you’re like, “I love that!” It’s the same with colour: it’s a matter of taste and style – your own, not anyone else’s.

Martha: Do you have a colour story or anecdote?
Jack: When I first went on the salon floor, one busy Saturday morning I was helping out with a colour for one of the senior staff members. On the lady’s record card, it said ‘mix one tube of high lift tint and half a tube of blue concentrate’. It didn’t sound right to me and I asked EVERY senior staff member there, all of whom waved me away saying ‘If it’s on the card, it’s right, just get on and do it’. It turned out it was supposed to say half an inch not half a tube. I knew in my gut it would be wrong and sure enough, the lady’s hair went electric blue. I then got told off because it had to be bleached back out and I went ballistic that no-one had listened to my concerns and then I was getting the blame! Lesson learnt – go with your gut…

Martha: If you could give people advice about using colour, what would it be?
Jack: Play with colour, see what excites you in fabrics and paints, mess around, stretch yourself.


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