One of the silver linings of 2020 is that many of us have—albeit under pressure—learned what’s possible to do at home. Add “attaining salon-quality men’s hair-coloring” to that list.
Ten years ago, entrepreneur brothers Tamim Mourad and Omar Mourad launched eSalon. Their mission: to bridge the gap between salon-quality hair for women and at-home boxed dye from the pharmacy. Since its first order was shipped 10 years ago, they have shipped over 8.5 million orders throughout North America and the EU, and are now capable of producing over 20,000 units daily, all managed in-house. Most crucially, eSalon’s commitment to true customization has seen them dispense more than 227,000 unique—not premixed or premade—hair color combinations to customers.
This year, the minds behind eSalon have launched Colorsmith, an easy at-home hair color experience for men, with the same attention to customers’ individual color needs.
“Historically men have only had two options to color their hair: one-size-fits-all boxed hair dye from the drugstore or frequent visits to the salon,” says Colorsmith CEO Graham Jones. “Colorsmith provides a solution to common hair color issues among men with a custom color that yields natural looking results.”
Every Colorsmith order comes with a customized color along with coloring tools and easy-to-follow instructions. The formula contains high-quality ingredients including Vitamin E, keratin and soybean protein. It’s also ammonia-, PPD-, resorcinol-, paraben-, and phthalate-free.
A 20,000-sqft production space dominates the eSalon/Colorsmith headquarters in El Segundo, with shipping boxes, accouterments, hair care inventory and thirteen industrial tanks that resemble brewery fermenters. At the center of it all, a robot-armed machine named Polly (for “polychrome”) works like a tireless mechanical chemist, plucking seven bottles at a time off a conveyor belt, deciphering their ID prescriptions, and loading bottles with their precise color combinations.
“The mixing of hair color does not follow the same rules as mixing paint,” explains Rabih Zaouk, vice president of research and development, who joined eSalon in 2012 and prototyped and built the dispensers that are at the core of eSalon and Colorsmith’s high-precision color-mixing technology. “It is possible, for instance, to mix color that normally appears copper with a color that looks brown and generate a slightly violet hue depending on the dye molecules and alkaline agent used. At Colorsmith, it is our job”—and Polly’s, of course—“to compensate for these shifts and send our customers formulations that will give them great results that are natural-looking, and replicate them every time.”
The team has also introduced with what they call the Gray Reduction Program, allowing men to replace their grays on the sly or, should they prefer, to retain some of that salt and pepper.
Finally, Colorsmith knows that ambience is important too. They’ve created a Spotify playlist—Hair Color Jams—best enjoyed during your DIY makeover in the comfort of your own space. The description says it all: “Just like our hair color, this playlist is tailored for you. Listen as you apply your hair color, and before you know it, your grays are gone or blended to perfection.” Coincidence or not, the playlist happens to be big on some of rock’s most impressively hairy acts. Time to get back in black while rocking out to “Back in Black.”