Colour Lab 12
Colour Lab 12 is the first salon in Toronto that is exclusively about colour. No cuts, styles, perms (do people still get those?), trims, or anything else unrelated to hue. Just as Doll Bar is to extensions and Fuzz Wax Bar is to waxing, this salon is sticking to one thing, and striving to do it impeccably well.
The idea belongs to Raphael Ness Azran, who I meet in his new salon along with colourist-colleagues Meghan and Shu. Raphael tells me he was literally born into the hair industry (both of his parents are stylists), fostering his skills at the Sassoon Academy out in California before returning to Toronto to work at various salons. "It's time hairdressing had a wake-up call," he tells me is his sleek new Rosedale spot. The salon has a bit of a black/white dichotomy going on, with a Coco Chanel quote on the wall reading, "The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you."
Raphael says that he spent some time reflecting on the hair industry overall, paying special attention to the wrongs and rights of colour. "There are a lot of mistakes going on," he says. "A lot of burns, a lot of over-colouring, and the process sometimes just take too long."
The approach Colour Lab 12 takes, he says, is almost scientific (hence the "lab" in its name). Clients can either book an appointment or walk right in, then choose from a menu of options that include the "Balancing Act" of highlights and lowlights ($85), the "Virgin Tint" of semi-permanent colour ($65), or a "Sun Kissed" ($55) natural look.
The stylists then convene on the best approach (while consulting with the client), following by mixing some of the 95 Goldwell products in stock. The colour is set with the help of Colour Lab 12's climazone processors, which, according to Raphael, accelerate the waiting time to somewhere around 15 to 18 minutes.
But best of all, in my opinion, are the three iPads waiting for unoccupied client hands. "We didn't want to do magazines," Raphael says. "We have one iPad for each chair; you can go on Facebook, Flipboard, whatever you want." Just don't forget to log out, of course, less your colour experience be marred by an unwelcome falsified status update.
After the colour is washed out, clients can opt to blow dry their hair themselves (saving time and money) at Colour Lab 12's blow dry station. This strikes me as a fantastic idea, especially since restlessness usually strikes me around the wash-out phase. The station has brushes, products — pretty much anything else you need, allowing you to dry as much or little as you want before heading out the door.
The salon also has its own line of sulfate-, phosphate-, and SLS-free shampoos and conditioners, all of which are produced in Ontario and priced between $20 and $24 per bottle. The line has been designed, of course, to enhance and protect coloured hair. And for all your cut and styling needs — yeah, probably best to head down the road.
Photos by Jesse Milns