New ‘virtual salon’ lets you change your hair colour with amazingly realistic results

Oh what we wouldn’t give to visit the hair salon right now. Settling down with a stack of glossy mags while a professional works their magic on months of roots and split ends has become the stuff of fantasies.

Alas we may have a long wait before our dreams come true, but in the meantime there’s a new way to dive into our deepest hair desires. Redken has just launched an online virtual hair salon which lets you digitally try over 70 shades via smart facial recognition technology.

It’s perfect timing considering that searches for “when will hairdressers reopen” have rocketed by 950% in the last week alone. Clearly we are not alone in our agony.

Head to the Redken Virtual Hair Colour Tool here on your phone, laptop or iPad, and you’re presented with an initial choice of five “colour palettes” – blonde, brunette, red, silver and fashion shades. Click on one and you’ll then get a further choice of 10+ shades in that colour spectrum.

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Now for the fun bit – try-on time! You can take a selfie or upload of a photo of yourself, then simply click on the colour you fancy. When you’ve found one you want to save, just hit download and you can add it to your camera roll or splash your new colour all over your social media.

There’s a hashtag of course – #findthehueforyou – and even a salon locator service so you can make an optimistic appointment for your future glamorous self.

But is it actually any use or is it a virtual waste of time? OK! beauty director Lynne Hyland gives it a try.

Lynne says:

My only recent contact with hair dye has involved a DIY root touch-up job in my own bathroom, so I'm desperate to get back to the salon for a full colour refresh. The idea of testing out a few shade options in the meantime was rather appealing, especially as there's no money and no patch test involved.

I started off trying to snap a selfie but my hair is currently so straggly, overgrown and shapeless, it didn't look any better with a different virtual colour dolloped on top. The image quality wasn't great initially either, although it did help when I moved into a brighter room.

However, things vastly improved when I uploaded a photo from my camera, wisely choosing a selfie from a more groomed past. The virtual makeovers snapped instantly into focus; suddenly the hair colours looked more accurate and I could compare my various shade selections far more easily.

The tool is quick and simple to use, and although it might sound a bit gimmicky, I found it surprisingly useful. The digital wizardry does a neat job of superimposing the different shades over your own hair, and I suspect the results could even prove quite a money saver.

For instance, it has confirmed once and for all that any attempt to go blonde would be an expensive disaster. It’s also given me some genuinely helpful inspiration – I'm rather taken with Polished Ruby but have decided against the more caramel brunette I'd been toying with.

It’s handy for asking other people’s opinions too. Once I'd introduced my family to the fun it had practically turned into a gameshow. Lighter? Darker?! Redder? Crazier??

Needless to say, the kids wanted a go too, and spent a good half hour testing out hair colours that would most certainly not pass the uniform test once school finally returns.

Best of all, it made us all guffaw out loud several times. And that’s definitely worth a few minutes of anyone’s time right now.

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