If You Favorited Miley's Golden Grammys Hair, You Need To Know Colorist Alexis Yoshico

The colorist talks collaboration, hair care, and the best hair color trends for spring.

Miley Cyrus’s hair is a fascination of the world. She’s already had nearly every hair color and cut possible and still, when her hair changes, it sends ripples through the media and the salons. Over the past year, the colorist who has been responsible for her ever-changing hair is New York hair colorist Alexis Yoshico. Post Miley’s stark, platinum-and-black lowlights phase, Yoshico has been a part of ushering the singer into a new era of softer, but still playful, hair color. Their collaboration includes Miley’s most recent headline making look at this years Grammys — where the singer’s hair was fluffed and teased to the heavens, showing off golden highlights weaving through her now long, bronze hair.

Day to day, Yoshico works out of Jerome Lordet Salon in New York City, where she exercises her full range of impressive coloring skills as a specialist in rainbow and pastel hair color. But whether she’s creating a look that’s subtly sun-kissed or unicorn-inspired, her favorite thing about her work is the joy and satisfaction that comes with translating her clients’ dream hair colors into real life.

We caught up with Yoshico to talk all about her career, her predictions for the biggest hair color trends for spring, and how Miley Cyrus became her first celebrity client.

Alexis Yoshico

How did you get your start doing hair and color?

I have straight, jet black Asian hair, and nobody could ever give me the color I wanted. So I thought, maybe I’ll become a hairstylist and one of my coworkers would be able to do my hair the way that I like it. That was one part.

I also grew up in Japan, but my family moved to Canada when I was in my early teens. I figured if I wanted to live somewhere exciting, then I needed some sort of skill that was worldwide. I don’t have to speak the language — as long as I have the skills, I can go anywhere in the world. I chose hair. I felt like I needed to be in Paris, Milan, or New York. New York was an hour flight away, so I thought, “Why don't I start there?” And 20 years later, I'm still here.

What did you want your hair to look like?

I wanted to do everything. I wanted to be blonde. I wanted to be red. But no one would do it — everyone said my hair was too black, too fragile, and too straight. I couldn't do anything or no one was good enough to do it.

And then, of course, moving to New York, everybody has every hair color. So I started getting all these compliments about how good my hair looks, shiny, black, stick straight, and down to my butt. So I was like, “I guess this is my look.” I started to love it and I stuck with it.

And so you started doing hair color on other people, instead. When did you first start working in the fashion and celebrity space?

My husband was Bob Recine's assistant for a couple of years. Bob, who we respect so much — I named my daughter Recine — one day Bob goes, “I want you to help me because I can't dye all these wigs to my satisfaction. I need someone who can do whatever I want them to do.” What he wanted was someone who could do whatever he created in his brain.

I think there are two kinds of hair colorists, the ones who are very good at coming up with all the crazy ideas and crazy colors, and then other ones that are very good at delivering what we’re asked for, perfectly and precisely. I think I am the one who can do what I'm asked better than coming up with a new creation. Am I making sense?

That makes sense. You put it into action and interpret the vision — there are dreamers and there are actualizers.

That’s exactly what I mean.

So I started helping with wigs and models and stuff like that. Then, one day he goes, “Are you ready to do celebrities?” I was like, “No.” And he says, “You're coming to LA with me to see Miley Cyrus.” I thought we would start with someone famous, but not that famous.

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When was this? What was the look you did at the time?

This was fairly recent. It happened last year when Miley had her “Flowers” look. She had the blonde, blonde hair with black highlights underneath, but she wanted to change. She wanted to be herself, rather than what everybody else wanted Miley Cyrus to be. So, we thought, “Let's do something new and create something that we don't even have a reference picture of.” And that's when we did her “Used To Be Young” music video hair color. Then we started to play with her hair — giving her chunky black lowlights in the front and making her really dark. As for her Grammys look, we were trying to have fun the way that Bob and Miley like to have fun. I'm just a small piece of their creation, but I'm very honored.

What does that collaboration process with the three of you look like?

Bob and I usually go to her together, but with no planning. Well, some planning, maybe — but it's simply, go darker or maybe lighter or something like that. Then we sit and chat and come up with something together because it's one of those things where all of us need to be happy. And then, we just go with it — we say we’ll start with this and see how it goes. Sometimes it's only a half hour process, sometimes it’s a nine hour process.

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I have to ask, do you have any upcoming projects with Miley?

Yes. And I have to stop there.

Ooh, so a new look, maybe?

I would be able to answer if I knew. Like I said, every time I fly to LA, I have no idea what I'm doing until I get there. Actually, not until I actually see her. Bob doesn't know either.

You do a lot of unconventional colors, too. Do you have an aesthetic that you usually go for or feel is your specialty?

That's a good question. I think I do love everything. I love when my clients tell me what they want and I get to feed it to them — that's a great satisfaction. I will tell them if something’s impossible, or I will give my opinion, but I try not to lead my clients. Again, I grew up having all these hairstylists telling me what I couldn't get done. So I tell clients when there are risks or if something takes hardcore maintenance — If you're Asian, and you want to be platinum blonde, there’s a very good chance of damaging the hair — but I wish somebody offered me that. Maybe I would’ve taken the risk.

Courtesy Alexis Yoshico
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What’s your favorite thing about doing the rainbow colors?

It's the way that clients look coming back from the shampoo bowl. The look on their faces. They're not even looking at me, they're looking at themselves in the mirror and with bright smiles on their faces. I feel like I did something good that day. It’s so much fun.

What colors or looks are you predicting will trend this spring?

It’s not only because I did Miley's Grammys look, but I see that mixture of chunky and fine highlights. I actually don't want to call it a chunky highlight, because I’m not trying to bring back the ’90s. I felt that it looked like a golden ribbon — I would call it a ribbon highlight.

A lot of people have also started to do peek-a-boo crazy colors rather than the whole head. People know those colors cost a lot and the maintenance is a lot, but they still want to have fun, so they're doing smaller pieces. I've also been noticing a lot more buttery, creamy, and honey blondes over the Elsa, ashy blondes. Chocolatey brown and bronze-y colors are back. Warmth is back.

Why do you think that is?

My honest opinion is it looks much healthier than the ashy tones and it does give you this warmer overall look. When you have icy blonde or ashy brown hair, that does make you look like a “cooler” person – which also is a compliment. But warm doesn’t have to be too professional — you can do warm hair colors with a lighter blonde or bronze balayage, it doesn’t have to feel boring at all.

What’s something you think everyone could benefit from doing in their hair care routine?

I want people to invest in their hair if they can. A lot of people spend hundreds of dollars on their face, but would use whatever for shampoo and conditioner. It’s good to invest in it. I do love Olaplex products — I like their shampoo and conditioner. I love their No. 7 Bonding Oil — it's weightless, it shines, it seals. But my to-go for younger crowds or whoever isn’t willing to spend, is coconut oil or apple cider vinegar from Trader Joe's.

My favorite shampoos and conditioners are from Milbon. They’re Japanese, I’m Japanese. I love the brand because they have everything for every type of hair — whether your hair is coarse or fine and colored. I've tried a lot of their shampoos and conditioners and I have to say, I like them all.