Pret-a-Reporter

Mane Monday: How Tilda Swinton's Hair Colorist Maintains Her Signature Shade

Matthias Nareyek/WireImage
Tilda Swinton

Christophe Robin, who also works with Catherine Deneuve, has developed a new hair product that helps "remove and absorb all of the residues after coloring the hair."

A colorist in Paris for nearly 30 years, Christophe Robin has given some of the most iconic women in film and fashion their signature hair colors.

Catherine Deneuve’s gorgeous warm blonde hue? That's him. He also tends to Tilda Swinton’s ever-changing mane, which has gone from shocking crimson to sheer platinum.  

But as much as Robin cares about color, he also cares about maintaining a healthy scalp.

"A lot of people suffer from itchiness because residue from bleach and color stays on your scalp and it’s very unhealthy," he says. "Think about the bleach they used in the '50s and '60s, it was so aggressive. Look at Kim Novak — she had one of the first chemical cuts! Same with Marlene [Dietrich]."

Though the products used to lift color from hair these days are less intense, there are still risks, especially to actresses, who can change hair color up to several times a week. 

"You have to change their hair so many times, the color needs to stay intact for three months of shooting and styling 10 times a day," notes Robin. "You need a product that will make the hair resist."

The product line he began developing and selling 20 years ago addresses both color maintenance and scalp health and has become a cult favorite of fashion and entertainment insiders who appreciate the gentle formulas and natural scents of rose and lavender.

His sea salt scrub ($52) specifically is a riff on what Robin refers to as an "old grandmother’s recipe" he picked up when starting in the industry. "They would cook sea salt and apply it to the scalp to remove and absorb all of the residues after coloring the hair," he says.

This back-to-basics approach sets Robin’s products apart from mass-produced beauty lines and has made them popular with clients at Los Angeles' Goddard + Bragg salon and in New York at Marie Robinson and Serge Normant.

It was at Goddard + Bragg’s West Hollywood space last week that Robin hosted an event featuring the products, where he discussed the difference of beauty in L.A. vs. Paris.

"Here in California, they love to be blonde!" he says. "In Paris, all of the cool girls are brunette. Think of Eva Green or Juliette Binoche — they look very natural. That’s why they look young, they don't look too done."

But, he warns, "once brunette turns flat or too brassy or mahogany, it shows that you’re covering your grays. It's hard to make it look natural."

Robin says that clients no longer bring in pictures of a celebrity as a color reference. "That’s been lovely," he remarks about the shift to more individualized color. 

Robin is no stranger to Hollywood. Over the years, he's traveled here often for film work.

"For movies, they come with pictures and a mood board and how they imagine the color," he says. "I also have to consider the lighting. Each DP [director of photography] has a way of lighting, so I have to know their work and how they light. I have to make sure I understand what they’re doing."

But now, Robin tries to stay in L.A. a little longer before zipping back to Paris, so he can hit favorite vintage stores in Burbank along Magnolia Avenue.

"I collect dressing gowns, and here you find beautiful ones from the '50s," he says. Robin even created his own collection years back and sold them at Maria Luisa boutique in Paris: "I only sold two, one to John Galliano and one to a French singer."

He sometimes wears the robes around himself. "People will look at me when they come to the house, even the delivery boy who is, like, 'Whoa, whoa!'" says Robin.

But presumably, not while he's working with all that color. 

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