Legendary colourist and haircare expert Christophe Robin shares some of his expertise on the right way to treat and revive dry, damaged hair, with our friends Zoe & Sarah from INÈS.
Christophe Robin is the go-to colourist for many celebrities. Including icons Claudia Schiffer Stephanie Seymour, Catherine Denueve, Natalie Portman, Natalia Vodianova, Natasha Poly, Eva Green, Lea Sedoux, Tilda Swinton and more. The list goes on, and you get the drift. He's a Parisian icon! His salon turns into a revolving door of high profile clients getting their colour tended to during Paris Fashion weeks. His products are so expertly tailored to different hair types, hair colours and concerns, there is something for everyone. We were first introduced to his range via the shade variation care (the baby blonde mask is the best on the market for blondes) and quickly became obsessed of the rest of his products. He is all about hair health, with a variety of masks, scrubs, pigment treatments and oils, to really achieve healthy hair at the root, and completely enhance colour.
Q. Which celebrity’s hair are your responsible for? And will you divulge your favourite celebrity client?
Catherine Deneuve, of course! And Kylie. Catherine is a legend for blondes and the most iconic French actress. She is my most inspiring client for her wonderful hair type, her grace and career. She was one of my first clients when I opened my salon in 1995. One day, I got a telephone call; “Hi, this is Catherine Deneuve.” That day was a turning point in career. My heart was pounding as I heard her say. “I saw Claudia Schiffer’s hair a dinner party. My colour isn’t working for me, so I’d like to make an appointment.” Today, I’m still taking care of her hair.
Q. You frequently speak of the importance of washing and drying hair properly - can you talk us through this?
Hair is at its most fragile when wet, you must look after it delicately! The night before shampooing your hair, I recommend putting some of my moisturising hair oil with lavender – or almond oil – onto the ends for a natural pre-shampoo treatment. Then brush it with a hair brush with natural boar bristles that will not stress out the hair. In the morning, detangle your hair before you shower. Then use warm – not hot – water to wash your hair. Use a little amount of shampoo (1 teaspoon) just onto the roots, and instead of re-using more shampoo, add a little more water and emulsify with a good massage to the scalp. Slide the product along the entire lengths of the hair, there is no need to rub. Most of the time, people never rinse enough when they wash their hair, so the scalp quickly becomes greasy again as it can’t breathe and they need to wash it again the next day. Rinse well. Use cold water at the end to lock the pores of the scalp and close the hair cuticles. If you decide to use conditioner, only apply on the ends. I recommend using a deep conditioning mask once a week. Then, dry it very gently with a towel. After the blow dry apply my daily moisturising cream. It has a very light texture and won’t greasy your hair. It will give texture and brilliance to the hair.
Q. Explain to us the benefits, and importance of introducing a hair scrub into our routine.
Women love to use dry shampoo and styling products all the time. These are like make-up, they need to be removed every night before you sleep to let your scalp breath. A hair scrub, like my Purifying scrub with sea salt, will really clean your scalp and remove build ups from dry shampoo, styling products and dry skin which helps the scalp regulate natural oils and stimulates circulations. A hair scrub is also incredible for women who experience discomfort and complain of itches after colouring their hair. For decades, grandmothers have exfoliated their scalp with sea salt and water in order to eliminate chemical residues left by colouring treatments. Apothecaries have always recognised salt as the solution to sensitive scalp too.
Q. What is your top advice for at home hair maintenance in between salon visits?
Women have to colour their hair every 4 – 6 weeks. In Pairs, women tend to space out more and more their coloration, they opt for care that extend the vibrancy of their colour and nourish the fibers. To look after colour at home, use products tailored to your needs. For every woman, and specifically blondes, I recommend the moisturising hair oil with lavender and the cleansing mask with lemon. This routine nourishes the fiber, products colour and gives incredible shine. Dry and and bleached hair needs more nutrition. Colored hair is less sensitized. It needs a mild wash and more acidic pH to properly enclose the colour pigments in the fibre. My colour fixator wheat germ line was designed for this. In both cases, always use a deep mask after your shampoo. The shade variation care masks are incredible, they will deeply nourish and enhance your hair colour without silicone
Q. Have you observed any differences in European VS Australasian women’s hair? And do you have a haircare tip specific to Australian + New Zealand women?
Australasian women have a very different lifestyle, it’s a lot more athletic and the sun truly has an impact on the hair and skin because it is so much stronger. Therefore, Australasians was their hair much more often and need to protect them from UV rays and salt water with oils and SPF. Its also a more laid back perspective on hair, it doesn’t need to be blown out on a regular perspective. French style is different, it is more a city life, blow dries are more common and they don’t need to wash hair so often but French women know how important it is to care for their hair. To get a bright colour and a nice texture, they dedicate several hours per week to apply masks and natural oils.
Q. It is a common struggle for blondes to achieve the perfect shade. What are your recommendations for blondes?
Its about a beautiful woman, with beautiful hair, not beautiful colour. Stay close to your natural hair colour, no more than two tones up or down to flatter your skin and eye tones and create contrast. When the root grows its not too obvious. If you find your skin feels to pink, or you need to wear more make up to counteract, it’s a good sign that your tone is wrong for you.
Q. The questions everyone wants to know- What is the key to achieving effortless Parisian girl hair?
It’s very important to care for your hair. To keep a hair colour looking fresh and to create perfect texture, you have to dedicate time to apply masks and natural oils. Having healthy hair is the secret to spending less time styling. French girls try to keep hair washing to a minimum to keep it looking its best and longer lasting colour. For a gentle wash, never use aggressive shampoos and avoid products with silicones, SLS and paraben .
ON CHRISTOPHE ROBIN PRODUCTS :
Q. We love the simplicity of the Hydrating shampoo bar. For those not used to using bar soap as a shampoo- can you explain the concept of this multipurpose product and how to use it?
This bar uses very simple ingredients – aloe vera, glycerine and castor oil to care for hair and body. The aloe vera is hydrating and vitalising, full of amino acids and vitamins. I wanted to have a multi-use product to take with you wherever you like. We used an ancestral process of cold saponification to create a very ‘clean’ and modern product. Use in place of liquid shampoo, and follow with a shot of hydrating mist before you comb through. It may take two or three washes to get used to the new routine but your hair will quickly become glossy and vibrant.
Q. How do you select the ingredients to formulate your products? And how important is natural?
Many of the rare and natural ingredients in my products I have discovered through my travels to Morocco, Polynesia and the orient. The secret oils and techniques have been used for generations, passed down through families and celebrated for their properties. For example, prickly pear seed oil has been well known since the beginning of time. Berber women use it sparingly to nourish and protect their skin, treat wounds and for its anti-aging virtues. I was immediately taken with its characteristic light and refined texture. I brought it back to my lab and worked with my formulators to introduce the oil into hair care products. At first they said it was too expensive because its 1000 euro per litre. But we did it anyway, and it is one of our biggest successes.
Natural ingredients are important as it is like food - or the vitamins you take. Your body grabs the natural ingredients more easily than chemistry, that’s for sure!
Interview | Sarah & Zoe at INÈS
Images | Christophe Robin Instagram page and Unconditional Magazine