Celebrity colorist Tracey Cunningham opens up about her A-list clients and caring for color-treated hair

Products in this story are independently selected and featured editorially. If you make a purchase using these links we may earn commission.
Credit: Courtesy Luke Austin

We’d be hard pressed to find a beauty guru who tends to more A-listers in the days leading up to an awards show than Tracey Cunningham. The L.A.-based colorist has been known to transform dozens of clients in a single day, including Golden Globe Awards nominees Emma Stone, Mandy Moore and Sarah Paulson. And now she’s revealing the tips she only shares with her cohort of color-treated clients so your hair can shine like a star’s too.

W Magazine Celebrates the Best Performances Portfolio and the Golden Globes with Audi and Moet & Chandon
Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty

Emma Stone

The Color: “Royal Red”

Their Meet Cute: “I first met Emma in 2005. She was filming Superbad and she had brown hair at the time. I changed her from that to her signature red. She came to my salon, Méche, and I instantly loved her! She is such a talent on-screen, but her true talent is her loyalty to her family and friends. Oh, and me!”

Her Current Shade: “I made Emma’s color a rich yet natural shade so it truly pops when being photographed and under bright lights. I also added in some highlights and a few lowlights to give her color a multidimensional look. I forget Emma is not a natural red-head — she’s a blonde! She looks like such an authentic red-head with this coloring, and her personality!”

How to Care for It: “To keep your color-treated hair healthy, manageable and strong, use Olaplex No. 3 at home at least twice a week. All my girls, including Emma, love it. To ensure your hair is also super-soft, I recommend using the treatment first, then shampooing your hair and after that applying a conditioner or mask.” (This and this Redken option are Cunningham’s mask must-haves.)

The 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards - Arrivals
Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty

Mandy Moore

The Color: “Sultry Siren”

Their Meet Cute: “I’ve known Mandy for so long. From the first time I worked with her it was non-stop chit-chat about travel plans, work plans and family. She’s another triple threat with her achievements in music, movies and now a nomination for her TV role. This is Us is my new TV guilty pleasure for binging! I’m a so proud of her!”

Her Current Shade: “Mandy’s color is a warm brunette. Those warmer tones just soften the color up a little, especially around her face. With her, we found a great color we love and we stick with it. She’s definitely a true brunette girl. “

How to Care for It: “There was a time when I thought shower filters were merely gimmicks, but reading about various research findings changed my mind. Unfiltered water can deposit minerals and chlorine leaving you with an altered hair color that lacks shine. I say the investment is worth it!”

Screening Of David O. Russell's "Past Forward" Hosted By Prada - Arrivals
Credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Sarah Paulson

The Color: “Old Hollywood Blonde”

Their Meet Cute: “Like most of my clients, I’ve known her for many years. Her sense of humor had me at hello! She’s so remarkably funny, then I see her on the big screen or TV playing a part and she just transforms. She’s incredible.”

Her Current Shade: “Sarah is definitely an ashy blonde right now, with a little root. She’s not a typical blonde bombshell, she has the most gorgeous face and one of the wittiest girls I know. She’s a true thespian, so I don’t allow her hair color to distract her audience.”

How to Care for It: “Blondes may have more fun, but their hair needs way more love and attention! Stocking up on sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner and getting a gloss between colors is a no-brainer. But the sun can also strip your color, even when it’s not summer. Always apply an UV-filter spray — or if you’re going for a wet-look, comb a cream with a UV-filter through your hair. (Among our faves, this and this.)”

What color tips do you find the most helpful? Share below!