"Rootflage" Answers Dyed Hair's Prayers
When it comes to colouring your hair, the options are usually quite messy. Constantly bleaching hair will inevitably fry it to a straw-like texture, making life very difficult for those who like to use their hair to express themselves. And even while the regrowth trend from the 90's is cropping back up, especially in the era of COVID-19, those who get their hair dyed are constantly having to visit the hairdresser every few weeks to top things up. But what if there was a simpler solution? Turns out, there is.
I was recently able to chat with Lucy Williamson O'Quinn, the woman behind the Rootflage hair chalk empire. Rootflage is a revolutionary temporary hair chalk in powdered form, with a dynamic and mess-free brush tipped packaging.
A screenshot from the Rootflage website.
As a rebellious, punk pre-teen, I was always looking for ways to colour my hair temporarily on the fly. My options were not too great. I would furiously rub my scalp with little crumbly bricks of pigment that would stain my fingers and my pillow, and I can never forget the horror of trying to use a very mushy and just as messy "hair chalk" kit from Claire's that would turn into a paste when warmed up between my fingers, and ended up in the trash after just a couple uses (where it belonged).
You can smell the asbestos from here... (Photo from Ebay)
As well, I'm a model, and I have to keep my hair consistent to the silvery-blonde shade on my comp card. If I showed up to a casting with let's say, a shock of bright pink hair, when they were expecting something else, I could kiss goodbye to that opportunity. And don't get me wrong, I love being a blonde, but my god, the upkeep! What happens if I am called into a casting for that day but I haven't been able to visit my hairdresser in a couple weeks? If only there was some way I could colour my hair freely, temporarily, with no mess and no staining, and could easy wash out in the shower... Sounds like a pipe dream, right?
Not for Lucy, a fellow blonde herself, who was suddenly struck with inspiration while visiting a beauty supply outlet in 2012. She noticed that there was no easy way for blondes to cover their roots in between salon appointments. Thus, Rootflage was born.
It began with the basics - blonde, brown, red and black powders meant for simple touchups. But as popularity and demand grew, Lucy soon began launching colours. "One thing that sets our root touch up apart is that we have all these fun colors too," Lucy explains. "And as it turns out, Rootflage isn't just for roots. So you can create so many fun and avant-garde looks, but without the commitment. We currently have 32 colors and growing."
Their powders are perfect for those who want to dress their hair up maybe for a shoot, or to match their outfit for an event, young teens who want to experiment before they (or their parents will let them) commit to a real dye treatment, or even just someone who wants to get Billie Eilish roots without going through all the bleach! And no need to worry about all ages experimenting with Rootflage - the formula is mostly corn starch, and contains no parabens, gluten, synthetic fragrances or phthalates.
Courtesy of Instagram @BILLIEEILISH
As for launching her own brand, Lucy has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, admitting "I always wanted to invent something."
And she knew she had found that something with Rootflage. "I used to own a maternity t-shirt line called Belly9 from 2002 to 2012. I did that on the side while I was raising my 2 kids. Then I had the idea for Rootflage in 2012 and sold Belly 9. I immediately created Rootflage that same year."
I have been lucky enough to collaborate with Rootflage multiple times, and I have them to credit for my signature dark silver locks that I try to wear for every occasion. I've always wanted grey hair - as a young teen, I idolized (and still do) Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick, known for rocking their signature silver crops back in the 1960's heyday of the Silver Factory.
Yeah, like that! Pic from here.
Dying your hair silver at a salon is difficult, to say the least. The amount of bleaching required takes hours and hundreds of dollars, and most places can't get the shade just right. After years of frustration, I was so relieved to see that Rootflage worked - In about a year, I've burned through about 5-6 bottles of their Titanium colour, and I plan on using it for the rest of my life! I'm so happy that I'm able to achieve the look I want, and then I can wash it out to back to my natural blonde for the next day if I wish.
The application for Rootflage is unique and simple - the powder is stored inside the bottle and gently comes out of a hole in the brush when you pat it onto your hair. You could unscrew the brush and use the powder straight from the bottle as well (and Rootflage does sell refills of their colours, hello sustainability)! It works both on wet and dry heads, but if you choose the former, a tiny angled brush is included for fine-detail work. Every unit comes with one of them, and I tend to use them as makeup brushes as well (they are the absolute perfect shape for a fine brow!)
Some uncapped pigments, and the angled brushes included in every box.
I was sent a couple other brightly pigmented shades from them as well (Purple Reign, Green Dragon, Pink Parade, Peacock Blue and Hello Yellow) that I have used to add some real oomph to my creative shoots. When I was gifted product for a content collaboration with Canadian hair tool juggernaut Trade Secrets, I wanted to really draw the attention to my hair, and Rootflage did just the trick! I was actually able to create the orange by combining the Pink Parade and Hello Yellow powders - and when you think about it that way, the colour combinations are endless.
ASTRID x TRADE SECRETS
As with any entrepreneur in the digital age, online marketing can either help or hinder your brand, and an online store is almost inevitable. Though Lucy started small, opening a store online helped her business flourish.
But this isn't to say she didn't have a couple of hurdles to overcome along the way. "Rootflage was one of the first ones on the market for root touch up. I used to have to try and sell the concept of a root touch up to salons and stylist, but initially they saw Rootflage as competition to their business," she explains. "They didn't necessarily like the idea at first."
"But as more and more large companies started doing root touch up, salons could no longer deny that products like this do exist. My company is still a really small indie brand, I just need to make sure Rootflage doesn't get lost in the sea of big brand names."