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Colorist Jessica Jewel Turns Basic Buzzcuts into Works of Art

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Getting a buzzcut has always been a bold statement. But lately, we’ve seen the cool cut take on a whole nother level of daring by serving as a blank canvas for some truly stunning creative color masterpieces.

Yep, shaved head hair art is totally having a moment right now and artist turned hair colorist Jessica Jewel is one of the creatives helping to lead the charge. Scroll through the LA-based hair artist and Pulp Riot educator’s Instagram feed and you’ll find an array of amazing buzz cut color creations. Her hand-painted designs, which span multi-hued smiley faces to color-blocked animal print, are impossible to stop staring at or obsessing over.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7r-rbVFyDR/

We had the opportunity to chat with Jewel about her colorful hair art and what you need to know about pulling off this fun look.

The Tease: How did you first get into coloring hair?

Jessica Jewel:  I actually feel like I’ve always been an artist since I was a child. Before I was a colorist, I was actually a painter. The reason why I feel like I was so drawn to color, in the beginning of getting my license, was I already knew color theory and it’s the same for hair. So, it was really easy for me to just segway right into pulling inspiration from my history as a painter and using that to kind of grow my love for hair.

That makes so much sense when I see your work! From your Instagram it’s clear that hand-painted buzzcuts are sort of your specialty. What drew you to this particular style?

I do natural color as well but, I’ve been doing creative color and specializing in that for about five years now. I wanted to kind of bring my painting background into the hair world, like in a more literal sense.I was like I should just start painting onto really short buzzcuts. The first one that I did was actually the silver and blue flames. I’ve only been doing this type of work, before quarantine, probably like four or five months.

Wow. So, the buzzcut really does act as the canvas for your designs then?

Exactly! And a lot of people do ask, “how do you find people that want this kind of thing? How do you do that?” What I did is, I just found models and I worked for free in order to have creative freedom. I would be like, “Hey, I feel like your look would be really cool with a painted buzzcut. Here’s my idea. Would you allow me to do this ?” And then I would get content out of it. Once people see that it’s an option, they just start asking for it. It worked out pretty well!

That’s so smart! So, I’ve seen you do everything from roses to smiley faces and even leopard print. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Honestly, I really love street style. I love punk, old street style and I love current street style. I really like looking at a person’s entire look from head-to-toe and kind of pulling from that and creating a look around that. In the past, when I would get models, I would kind of turn them into what I wanted to see. From years and years of working with people and creating, I’ve found a way to really look at their look from head-to-toe and pull out something that makes sense for them and enhances or elevates them as a person and as someone who puts their style out there.

From your perspective, why do you think buzzcut art has become such a huge trend?

Like I said before, I really love old school punk style. I feel like I have to definitely pay homage to that and say that I feel like people have been doing this for awhile. It’s just more visible because celebrities are doing it and there’s more of a platform for it. The more people that are seeing that it’s not so underground, the more people want it. Also, I feel like a lot of people are exploring with their styles during quarantine. So, the mixture of that makes for like everyone wanting it.

Since you’ve done so many awesome designs, do you have a personal favorite?

I really love the flames. I really love the rose. Honestly, it’s really hard to choose.

Is there a design that you’re hoping to do next?

 I wanted to do an illustration of the neurotransmitter that is serotonin on the side of someone’s head. I struggle with anxiety and depression. I really like to use the pieces in a therapeutic, lethargic way of bringing out certain things that a lot of us struggle with. I thought it would be a really cool way to highlight that in a symbolic way.

Getting The Look:

Proper Tools:  When it comes to hair dyes, Jewel says Pulp Riot is the best. “Pulp Riot is definitely going to be your number one coloring to use for this because they don’t bleed into each other,” she said. “If you’re taking all this time to paint colors next to each other, especially if you’re using a black detail color, no other color line is not going to bleed into each other.” As for actual tools, she uses an actual paint palette and paintbrushes from an art supply store.

Hair Length: As far as hair length, for pulling off this look, Jewel recommends about 1.5 guard. “You can do a little bit longer than that depending on the hair’s thickness. You want enough hair to where when you lighten it and color it, it shows up and you’re not seeing too much of the scalp,” she explains. “You also don’t want it to be too long to where the hair starts moving and you lose the detail work.”

How Long Does It Take: It depends on the design. “If it’s something like a bleach-out [getting it to a clean, light canvas] and then doing like two-tone color on it, that will be just like an hour,” she said. “If we’re doing something more detailed like the smiley faces or the rose, that’s going to be around two to three hours, depending on how dark the hair is to start out.”

How Much Does It Cost: It varies depending on the artist. According to Jewel, because buzzcut art is considered somewhat of a luxury service, a higher price point should be expected. “I generally do $100+ an hour if it’s in a salon or a house call,” she said. “A house call is obviously going to be more for travel.”

How Long Does It Last: Two to three weeks. “You just kind of buzz it down and start over again with a clean canvas,” Jewel said.

Maintaining The Style: According to Jewel, it’s best to apply a color-safe oil to the scalp afterwards to help with any dryness from lightening the hair. She recommends Pulp Riot Munich Hair Serum or Olaplex 7 Bonding Oil. She adds that you don’t want to wash the hair too much. Just once or twice a week with cool water and a color-safe shampoo and conditioner is fine.

The Grow-Out Process: It’s the exact same as with a regular buzzcut, but just be mindful of the color work. “The better they maintain the color, the better the design is going to look as it grows out,” Jewel said. Most designs tend to have a two to three week like span before it’s time to buzz them off again. She adds, “If you’re going to let it grow out for longer than that, it would probably eventually fade out.

Who Wears It Best: All hair colors and hair types can rock buzzcut art. “You really just want to make sure that your client is comfortable because anyone getting their hair lightened is going to feel a little itchiness or inflammation on the scalp,” she said. “Just make sure that your client’s skin is reacting well to the whitening chemicals. Other than that, you should be absolutely fine.”

To see more of Jessica’s hair designs, be sure to follow her on Instagram.

Camille Nzengung
Camille Nzengung
Camille Nzengung is a Features Editor, based in Georgia, covering all things hair at The Tease. You can find her writing about the best hair products, the coolest hair trends, and all the exciting new hair launches.