Johnny Ramirez’s ‘Lived-In-Color’ Look Is Totally Worth The Hype (And The Wait)

“See you soon,” I texted my husband just after I arrived for my 1 p.m. appointment with celebrity colourist Johnny Ramirez at Toronto salon Lac + Co, where he was being hosted for a few days.

Nearly 10 hours later, I returned home with hair so expertly sun-kissed that being a beauty hostage for an afternoon (and evening) felt like a small price to pay. “My clients entertain themselves by bringing a laptop, tablet or books,” says the Los Angeles-based hair painter. Getting his trademarked Lived-in Color look can take six hours or more to achieve, but it took longer in my case because of staffing issues: Half of his team en route to Toronto were stranded at the Las Vegas airport.

Scroll through his Instagram feed and you can see why his New York-based clients make the pilgrimage to Toronto when Ramirez is in town. His signature look has the similarly subtle effect of balayage or ombré, but Ramirez says it’s totally different. “Ombré doesn’t lighten hair around the face,” he says, while balayage involves painting strands freehand with a brush. Ramirez’s technique is more like fingerpainting as he rubs freshly bleached strands between his fingers to blur any hard lines.

For women who routinely colour their hair, perhaps the biggest draw is the low-maintenance factor: Ramirez’s work lasts for six months. He achieves this by creating a faux root that blends seamlessly with the hair’s natural colour.

As someone who had never coloured her hair, I assumed that my virgin strands would immediately soak up all of the sunny pigment, allowing me to breeze out of the salon and be home in time for dinner with my daughters. Instead, as I was being shuffled back and forth from the lounge to the sink to Ramirez’s station, I kicked myself for not bringing healthy snacks and a charger for my phone.

Was it worth the wait? Yes: Ramirez took my blond hair from dishwater to Gisele, and six months later I’m still receiving compliments.

Would I do it again? You bet.