Last year in August when I had my first phone chat with hair color artist George Papanikolas (pronounced papa-nikolas) I had no idea just how fast the charming hair man's career as a celebrity hair colorist/hairdresser would blow up.
Blow up indeed.
From Chris McMillan to the Andy LeCompte Salon
Shortly after our first conversation George left his hair colorist position at the iconic Chris McMillan Salon (Jennifer Aniston's hairdresser's haunt) in West Hollywood.
George was originally recruited to the esteemed McMillan Salon by Chris McMillan himself. At the time McMillan was impressed with the new, fresh color techniques George was becoming known for.
One celebrity client who loved how George brilliantly colored out the lines, was actress Mila Kunis. George hand painted rich chocolate brown highlights on top of Mila's gorgeous brunette base with stunning results.
After leaving McMillan's Salon, George landed a highly coveted position at the equally chic Andy LeCompte Salon
George and renowned cutter Andy met during their joint tenure at the McMillan Salon. When Andy left to start his own salon he invited George to step into the role of head hair colorist at the West Hollywood salon.
Note: Call George to experience his hair color artistry in Los Angeles at: 310-273-4100. He also is available for appointments at The Rita Hazan Salon in New York at: 212-586-4343 and in Dubai at: +971 4 4370207.
Andy LeCompte Salon Oozes Artistic Inspiration
The 2,500 square foot salon is inspirational for any true hair artist like George.
Designed by Johnna McHugh and Janet Perkins the stunning space honors the history of the location complete with carefully preserved cracks and lines which gracefully snake through soft brown cement floors and charming windows.
The gorgeous modern loft-like feel contains carefully selected art from Paul Rusoni, Robert Rauschenberg, Marilyn Minter and none other than art history making Andy Warhol.
Pushing The Boundaries Of Color
George explained "he left Chris McMillan on good terms" but wanted to push his boundaries as a hair colorist working with like-minded artists.
He dreamed of growing his reputation as a brilliant go-to balayage expert creating signature color blending like no other hair color wizard in Hollywood.
Around the time George was literally helping Andy move into his newly established shop complete with nine stylists, three colorists and related services he took on a new iconic hair color client.
Designing Britney Spears' Hair Looks
For Circus Tour
As his career was heating up he added one of the reigning Queens of Rock, Britney Spears, to his appointment book.
Over time George and Britney developed a fantastic working relationship. Ultimately their hair connection led Britney to invite George to design all of her hairstyles and looks for her eponymous Circus tour.
George threw himself into architecting the entire show's hair designs and related accessories such as hats or other show head wear.
The result? A dazzling array of hair creations for all of Britney's performances.
He also designed and developed the hairstyles for the entire supporting cast of dancer and performers for the US leg of the tour.
Traveling With Circus As Britney's Personal Haircolorist/Mane Man
Consenting to sign onto the Circus tour as Britney's traveling personal hair colorist and stylist George packed his bags for the road. He joined the Circus tour for three months starting in February of 2009.
George who previously confessed his lifelong "obsession with blondes" to me in our first interview was truly in the blonde zone with Britney.
He explained he took Britney "really blonde for her Circus tour".
George started with "a golden blonde base interwoven with lighter “balayage” (pronounced bell-aye-rjsh) applied creamy vanilla blonde highlights.
He interwove slighter darker golden blonde lowlights to create beautiful ribbons of rich hue variation and dynamite dimension.
Dizzying Array Of Wigs, Hair Extensions, Clip-ins & Hair Pieces
George noted her "show hair incorporated" a dizzying array "of wigs, hair extensions, clip-in hair and extra hair pieces."
While George personally coiffed Britney's hair for every appearance, there were "three assistant hairdressers" who styled the rest of the cast on a nightly basis.
I mentioned to George I'd just received press photos of the new 2009 Candie's Britney ads. I expressed my appreciation for her stunning blonde tresses.
The Mastermind Behind Candie's Blonding Of Britney
It was no surprise to discover George was the color wizard behind Britney's eye popping flaxen blonde tresses.
Who better than George, the architect of perfect blonde on blonde designs, to mastermind the blonding of Britney?
There's no denying she had spectacular blonde hues in all the Candie's ads.
I asked George how often he had to touch up Britney's color on tour.
Imagine my surprise when he said he "colored her base every month" and touched up her "highlights and lowlights every 8-10 weeks."
Since George was working on Britney's hair for every single performance he told me had the advantage of knowing exactly when color maintenance was required and applying it so seamlessly it looked like the gorgeous silken blonde hues were bestowed by nature.
Hair Career Crossroads For George
Swirled into the mix of an exciting tour with Britney was the nagging question about George's ultimate career as a high profile hair colorist.
Although being with Britney and the Circus tour "was fun" and fulfilled his true "love of travel" George noted there were some challenges.
While George was "on tour" his regular stable of celebrity hair color clients were unable to visit him for their color work.
When a celebrity finds a true hair color expert like George they're unhappy when he's not available to work his magic on their tresses.
As Britney's personal hairdresser George found himself slowly transitioning away from doing only color and doing more cutting and styling. He enjoyed his foray into those hair worlds.
After doing some hard soul searching George listened to his heart and decided to leave the Circus. He appreciated the opportunity but wanted to return to the salon where he could focus on his true passion - the love of hair color.
Hair Colorists Get No Respect
Returning to Los Angeles George picked up his balayage brush and resumed free hand painting his signature colors which have been described as a gorgeous hues inspired by the way a child's hair looks after a whole summer playing on the beach.
I reminded George that celebrity hair colorists often are ignored in the grand scheme of the Red Carpet worlds where the media is obsessed with the hair lengths, styles and accessories various paparazzi princesses are spotted wearing.
Even though hair color can ultimately make or break any hairstyle, the press often ignores the obvious.
George doesn't care. He knows that his brilliant color works are noticed and admired in all the right circles including his stable of celebrity clients.
His clients include, but aren't limited to Britney, Sarah Michelle Geller, Mila Kunis and Hayley Bennet.
George agreed, "baylage does require a bit of natural talent".
Indeed, when you're free hand painting directly onto hair, George noted you "truly are an artist", except painting onto a different type of canvas.
With every new head George does, he has a special vision of what needs to be done.
Onto High Fashion Hair
With help from Andy, George's color work has garnered recent fashion runway assignments helping to expand his budding portfolio. The buzz about George as the hottest new Hollywood hair colorist garnered invitations for him to coif hair in New York.
Of course when he's home in LA he continually attracts all of the new models being launched by L.A.’s hottest agencies including Ford and L.A. Models.
George's Balayage Techniques
Can any hair colorist do baylage?
According to George, "any hair colorist with proper training can learn the technique and do it well."
Explaining more about his legendary balayage techniques George stressed “application is extremely important”.
The color, since it is carefully hand painted on the hair, must be done “very fast” and George explained "you have to watch it closely" to get the "proper level of lift".
Unlike foils, where you just “slap the color on and let it process”, the balayage techniques developed by George, are "extremely precise and involve "as much art as science" during the application.
He finds baylage "pushes him to use his natural artistic talents" to create hair color in completely new ways.
George specifically works the strands from the roots outward. It's important to always "slightly adjust the baylage so the color remains fresh, different and never boring".
Where does George get his inspiration for his balayage work?
His inspiration comes from the gorgeous highlighted tresses of supermodel "Giselle and actress Sarah Jessica Parker" of Sex And The City fame.
What celebrity would George love to personally work with? “Giselle of course".
Using The Right Products For Colored Hair
Although in high demand by celebrities, George continues in his role with Joico's (a division of Shiseido, Inc.,) team of elite hair color experts, representing the esteemed company and their amazing award winning hair products.
Since George believes it's "extremely important to use the right products on color treated hair" and he already was useind the Joico VeroColor line on his clients, he was a perfect addition to the team.
George utilizes VeroColor because it "offers rich, long-lasting results, spectacular condition and shine", which obviously his hair color clients love. And who wouldn't?
After working so hard to create those luscious balayage highlights, George encourages his clients to utilize the Joico Color Endure line consisting of shampoo, conditioner and leave-in protection to help extend the overall life of the highlights and keep them looking "as great as possible".
Besides VeroColor, George is a fan of several of the Joico styling products.
Joico Hair Products Allow George To Create Hair Masterpieces?
He uses "the Joico Paste for his own hair, because it allows him to effortlessly create a cool, modern texture "which is more pliable and has a softer, piec-y feel".
When working to create lots of lush volume for a finished style, George may spritz on Joico's Body Luxe Root Lift. Or to add thickness he uses Joico's Body Luxe Design Form.
George also utilizes the Fine Mist Aerosol Hairspray to lock in curls.
In keeping with notable new trends in the salon industry, George utilizes Joico's products to target specific hair issues.
As far as servicing clients' needs go, George explained "instead of one product for everyone, people are targeting specifics—scalp issues, frizzy hair, colored hair."
People don't want cookie-cutter hair, they want unique natural styles.
Joico offers these types of products, which George appreciates when working with all of his clients.
What The Future Holds
George has enjoyed amazing success creating signature hair color and natural, tousled hairstyle looks.
As a result, George Papanikolas, who's part of the esteemed stable of Exclusive Artist Management has become a must-see for Hollywood starlets seeking his special color boost and sassy styles.
Note: As of 2021 George is represented by The Wall Group.
What’s next for this talented colorist? His career will only continue to skyrocket.
Print, Films And Training Other Hair Colorists Is His
Long Term Goals
Although he's worked on some "wonderfully challenging print shoots", the amazingly talented celeb hair colorist definitely wants "to do more of that in the future".
George definitely loves that part of the business. He also wants to do more free lance work and would love the opportunity to work on films.
His ultimate goal is to train other hair colorists in how to translate Red Carpet and runway styles to the salon.
Luckily George is always willing to make room for new hair color clients who'd like to experience his spectacular work.
To book with this hot celebrity hairstylist call him directly at: 310-273-4100.
Please tell him Karen Shelton at HairBoutique.com sent you. I'm a huge fan of his work.
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