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I Was A ... Hair Stylist on 'The Hunger Games'

Elizabeth Banks as Effie and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in The Hunger Games
Lionsgate

If you have seen and/or read "The Hunger Games," then you know that the vibrant hair colors are very much a part of the characters, especially the sophisticated, fashion-forward residents of the Capitol.

Hair colorist Cherry Petenbrink was tapped to create the hair color concept for the entire film. She worked under hair department head Linda Flowers, who also supervised all the hairstyles, including the soon-to-be iconic braids worn by Katniss Everdeen. They devised artistic interpretations while making sure they stayed true to the expectations of legions of fans and the requirements of the film's producers and costume designer Judianna Makovsky.

It was a huge job, requiring styling for not only the stars, but for nearly 500 extras who mainly rocked futuristic hairstyles with vivid colors. Petenbrink supervised the 35 stylists who worked on the tresses of the cast, making sure everything was just right.

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Jennifer Lawrence came in as a blonde and had to be transformed ... Author Suzanne Collins described Katniss’ hair color as a dark brown shade without any warmth. We used a two-step process with Joico Vero Chrome demi-permanent color to change her shade. Then, we had to refresh it every two weeks and retouch it on set every four weeks for continuity during the five-month shoot in North Carolina. It was hot and humid there, and she had to shampoo her hair frequently. She’s a great girl, very dedicated to her craft and very focused. She was willing to do whatever needed for her finished look.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta in The Hunger Games
Lionsgate

Josh Hutcherson also needed a radical color change to play Peeta ... He has really dark brown hair, almost black. What was requested was sandy ash blond, but we didn’t want it too look brassy or orange or yellow. We used crème lightener from scalp to ends and then we did a highlighting process so it would be more dimensional for the end result. The maintenance was quite easy and we only had to retouch every four weeks. At first I think he was a little bit nervous. As soon as they wrapped, he came back and wanted his hair back to his natural color.

No, of course that wasn't Elizabeth Banks' real hair ... We had three wigs for her as Effie. It was a matter of getting them colored, doing a camera test and making sure it was the end result they wanted.  We got it nailed on the first day.  Wigs never need to be retouched, but they sometimes need a bit of refreshing.

Effie isn't the only one with crazy-colored hair ... When you work with these colors, it's a challenge to make them look trendsetting and visionary and not clown-like. It was a lot of pressure to come up with 500 completely different looks, but it was also a really fun and creative challenge. They all have some element of color -- pieces, bangs, flashes of something interesting going on. I truly think that once they see the hair, people will say that nothing like this has ever been done.

The hair trends are already showing up on spring runways ... Even a conservative line like Kate Spade is showing pastel hair. This trend is different than the punk color look from awhile back. It’s classier and more couture. While we were filming, we were trying to make it avant-garde. I wanted to make it look runway. McQueen and Galliano were the key words I kept hearing.  We didn't want it to look like Mardi Gras.

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Katy Perry is a perfect example ... Her colored hair is coifed, finished and healthy.  What’s different is a thought process resulting in a look that’s beautiful, sexy and trendy but that has an edge. This will definitely have some influence even into the general population, with the trend of wearing hair up. We’re going to see more of that put-together look.

When she’s not on set plying her trade ...I work at Salon Republic on Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights in West Hollywood, California.

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