We Tried the VIP Treatment at Christophe Robin’s New Salon

Christophe Robin
Take a tour of Christophe Robin’s new salon in Paris. Courtesy Christophe Robin (2)

I am sitting on a vintage pink leather reclining shampoo chair in a Parisian salon while an Adonis-like man named Arnault (a dead ringer for Djimon Hounsou, really) massages fiery red pigment into my scalp and hair — continuously, and with purpose. How did I get here?

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I was on vacation in Paris when I received an invite to check out the new salon of Christophe Robin, the hair colorist behind Natalie Portman’s chestnut, Léa Seydoux’s buttery blonde and, oh, yeah, Catherine Deneuve’s iconic honey highlights. Robin (pronounced “robe-ahhhn”) had recently moved his luxe hair studio from a two-room suite at the swanky Meurice Hotel to the tree-lined, cobblestoned Rue Bachaumont in the heart of the 2nd Arrondissement, the city’s equivalent to NYC’s up-and-coming NoMad neighborhood. Here, anyone can walk in and get her hair washed for free — in a larger-than-life Botticelli-inspired shell sink, no less — plus a tress assessment and product trial with Robin’s eponymous line of pH-balancing shampoos and treatments. There’s even a secret entrance that leads directly into a VIP room, away from the eyes of the paparazzi. As the beauty director of a celebrity news magazine, this is, of course, the treatment I must experience!

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Christophe Robin
To enter the VIP entrance of the Christophe Robin salon in Paris, you must first walk through a courtyard. Gwen Flamberg

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After replying with an enthusiastic “oui!” the next day I walk to an adjacent block (I wish I could tell you the street name, but remember, this entrance is secret), punch in the code to an apartment building, walk into its courtyard and there, across the way, is the door to Robin’s VIP room. The jewel-box space is decorated like the rest of the salon, with leopard floors, walls hung with bright pink velvet curtains, antique gilded mirrors and whimsical Lanvin porcelain figurines.

Christophe Robin
Marvel at the luxurious shell sink in Christophe Robin’s salon in Paris. Gwen Flamberg

Robin greets me with his trademark warmth, and I’m handed a robe — not just any old standard-issue black thing but a brilliantly colored silk chinoiserie, as gorgeous as it was comfortable. After a brief consultation, Robin gets to work, combing a moisturizing treatment through my hair and then painting a semipermanent formula around my hairline. After rinsing out the solution 20 minutes later, I am left in the sink, and since I don’t want to commit to permanent hair color, Arnault comes in to rake a red vegetable dye through my strands from roots to ends for half an hour. Another rinse and a blow-dry later and…voilà! My locks are the rich, vibrant shade that they appear to be via my oft-used Rise Instagram filter! Color should last through a few shampoos (which for me means a month or two).

Christophe Robin
Not your average robes! At Christophe Robin’s salon, clients wear these colorful wraps. Gwen Flamberg

If you aren’t in Paris or don’t have the desire to shell out $1,000 to sit in Robin’s chair, follow his tips and tricks for a spectacular DIY dye job at home:

Prep with oil before color.

An hour before you plan to apply a single-process box dye, run a very light coat of hair oil (like Christophe Robin Moisturizing Hair Oil With Lavender, $47, net-a-porter.com) through strands from roots to ends. Since color molecules can grab on to dry patches, moisturizing strands first will ensure more even color.

Touch up just your hairline.

If your grays are mostly around the hairline or temples, spot-treat these areas. Robin suggests putting dye in a cup and using an old toothbrush to apply color only where you need it. Since most at-home formulas are darker than they appear on the box, choose a color one shade lighter than your hair and leave on for 10–15 minutes.

Boost vibrancy with a color conditioner.

Commitment-phobic? Brighten temporarily with a color-depositing conditioner the same shade as your hair. (Try Christophe Robin Shade Variation, available in Baby Blonde, Golden Blonde, Chic Copper, Ash Brown and Warm Chestnut, $51 each, net-a-porter.com.) In the shower, shampoo with a clarifying shampoo to eliminate grime and product residue, then smooth on the conditioner and comb through from roots to ends, rinsing after 10 minutes.

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