If you watch Netflix, chances are you’ve binge-watched Riverdale, the Archie comic TV spinoff. Not only is it filmed in Vancouver, but the hair colourists responsible for some of the iconic colours are based at Vancouver salon BRUSH. As a fan of the show, I had the opportunity to ask them some of my burning questions when they were in Montreal for L’Oreal Professionnel’s bi-annual workshops.

Michael Gibson and Calvyn Cass, owners of the BRUSH Salon in Vancouver and L’Oreal Professionnel Portfolio Artists, have been celebrities’ favourite hairstylists since long before the show’s debut. And they’ve been together even longer: “Since we’ve opened, for about four years now, we’ve been together, but we’ve been in the industry together for quite some time. We used to work in a salon before we decided to open BRUSH together. It gave us a little test to see if we could have a business together.”

When I ask about how they’ve changed since Riverdale, Calvyn tells me how everything has changed since the opening. “When we opened, we were very green and very obviously diving into something that was much bigger than what we could handle, as far for our knowledge of business and really what our big picture dream was, and now we know. It’s very clear to us now. We’ve renovated the space three or four times – so obviously [we were] feeling out what we like, what we don’t like, and in that time, our clientele has grown, our demographic has slightly changed. I’d say that more than anything, working with celebrity clients, you attract people that like those people and want to look similar. So, we see a lot more reds,” laughs Calvyn about how business has changed since Riverdale in particular.

Molly Ringwald (Mary Andrews, Archie’s mom on the show) first came into the salon to see Michael and Calvyn at the beginning of the first season. “Basically, how this all came about – and I think this is a testament to seizing opportunities when they come, when sometimes you’re not going to get paid for something, that doesn’t mean it won’t be beneficial – So, I had been booked to do a photoshoot with Madelaine [Petsch, Cheryl Blossom on the show] for Bello Magazine. It was really exciting. At the time, I didn’t know who she was. And Michael was just having kind of a bad day, and I thought he could use a bit of inspiration, so I decided to send him to the photoshoot in my place. They hit it off; they had a great time. And Madelaine decided to refer us to the hairstylist on the set. So, it obviously ended up well for us. It was like a full circle experience – getting to know her and getting along well and just her kind of being on board with having the rest of the cast come to us for colours,” Calvyn says of their initial introduction.

The most shocking discovery for me is that Madelaine is actually the only “natural redhead on the show. So, we based KJ [Archie]’s hair and Natalie, who plays Cheryl’s mom, off of Madelaine’s colour.” They do add some treatments to Cheryl’s hair, but no colour. “The only thing she does is a clear gloss treatment just to get some shine, that’s it. And sometimes she’ll do a treatment as well.”

How they achieve the same bright hair colour for the others differs from person to person.

“KJ is from New Zealand – his family is Indigenous, so he’s got much darker complexion naturally. He’s quite pale on the show, but that’s because he doesn’t go in the sun. His hair is black. So, we have to lift him quite a bit to get to that red colour. I use medium blond; I don’t actually put any copper in the initial formulation, and then I add copper after.”

Another shock is finding out that KJ needs to get this process redone every 7-10 days! “Most of the others will come in normal – like 3-6 weeks depending on their filming schedule. But it’s pretty often for poor KJ.” And he doesn’t even like having the red hair. He tries to come into the salon immediately after shooting is done to get it back to his normal black. “Generally, he’ll come and go back brown, and then he goes to LA and hangs out on the beach and it washes out back to red in like a week, so it never lasts very long.”

“With Natalie, she’s a bit lighter, so we can just put copper in her hair, and it goes to the right colour. That sounds a lot simpler; it’s a lot more complicated than that.”

“And Cami [who plays Veronica Lodge] for example, she obviously has darker hair too, so I use L’Oreal Professionnel’s Colorful that’s been out for a couple years. I always glaze her hair afterwards with a blue-black from Colorful, so that’s a fun little insider secret that no one knows.”

And with all these treatments, how do they keep the colours so bright and vibrant? “L’Oreal [Professionnel] launched a product called Smartbond, which multiplies the disulfate bonds (links) in the hair. So, if you imagine inside your hair there was links or chains, this product re-fuses those links and makes them stronger, which gives a stronger reflection. And then we use a lot of the Powermix treatments, and glossing – a lot of clear glossing to give it some added shine.”

Not everyone who changes their hair on the show needs to go to the salon. The character of Betty will pop on her edgy dark wig and transform into a completely different person. I ask Calvyn and Michael their thoughts on changes in hair relating to changes in personality:

“I feel like hair is your biggest accessory. So, it’s just one of those things we wear. I mean, obviously it grows out of our heads, but the fact that we can colour it, change the shape of it with haircuts or styling tools or whatever it might be, I think that whatever you’re feeling in your life at that moment will be expressed through your clothing and your hair. And sometimes we have good days, and sometimes we have bad days. And you can usually tell when someone walks up how they feel by how their hair looks.”

Get your hair to look as fabulous as your favourite character: https://www.lorealprofessionnel.ca/ca-en

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