I’ve been there, bringing a picture to my stylist to illustrate the way I want her to cut my hair. I usually screenshot the first look I see, and pretty often, it’s a picture of a white woman. (A white woman with a flawless cut nonetheless, but a woman whose hair looks nothing like mine.) Sure, I get tons of inspiration straight from the explore page on Instagram, and Pinterest can be helpful, but I don’t always find what I’m looking for. Beauty editor-turned-lawyer Debra Shigley knows the struggle. And that’s exactly why she started the Colour app, the first-ever hairstyle inspiration database for women of color.
I browsed through Colour and was delighted by what felt like a multicultural hair magazine in digital form with so many styles to draw inspiration from. With categories like Straight, Updos, Curly, Bob, Bantu, and many more, it’s hard not to find the perfect hairstyle idea. Colour is so genius that once you’re in a category (like Waves), you can also filter by occasion (date night, work, gala, wedding, vacation, etc.). If you live in Atlanta, you can also book and confirm appointments through the app with a Colour stylist who comes to your home. Though you can’t book an appointment if you’re in, say, New York City or Stockholm, the app offers phone consultations with clients worldwide. There’s even a review section where you can see real people’s pictures and feedback on their experience with Colour’s stylists.
I chatted with Shigley over the phone and asked about her own personal hair experiences. She described a “lifelong” struggle with hair, starting with having a white Jewish mother who did the best she could styling her daughter’s kinky hair (Shigley’s father is Afro-Jamaican). She spoke of past experiences going to mainstream salons which would often have no clue what to do with her hair texture, before finally experiencing the world of black hair salons. With Colour, Shigley wants women of color to feel beautiful and included in the beauty world. She aims to eliminate a lot of the issues many have with traditional salon experiences and make it easier for us to get our hair done.
If you do happen to live in Atlanta, you can browse through the looks, book, and pay for your appointment much like you would an Uber. Upon confirmation, you have a welcome call with your stylist who tells you what to expect during your appointment.
And if you’re wondering how Colour vets their stylists, rest assured that the process is no joke. Shigley has them go through a very thorough natural hair audition (they’re instructed to blow-dry and thermal style hair in a specific way), a structured interview, and a criminal background check. She also has the stylists do her hair, which is the kind of quality control I am here for.
Shigley plans to expand to new cities including Los Angeles, D.C., and Chicago, but her style database is, of course, open to anyone who downloads the app. I for one plan to be using the app heavily in my never-ending pursuit of new hairstyles. With Colour, Shigley hopes to create a shift in beauty and the way women of color view themselves.
Find it in the Apple app store.
More beauty apps we love:
Now, let Justine Skye give you a lesson on selfie-taking: