Ishan Dutta, Founder of Ugly Duckling Color Perfecting the “Hollywood” Blonde for Women and Men

The editors at Swagger learned about entrepreneur    and his internationally known hair color company, Ugly Duckling Color.  His company, which is based out of Los Angeles, CA is making a huge mark on the beauty industry and we wanted to learn more.


Ishan has been in the hairdressing and beauty industry since 1994, and has worked at the senior level for some major cosmetics companies in the US, France and Asia. As he explained to our magazine, he always had an interest in running his own company, and the color side of the beauty business was where he wanted to be.

Ishan Dutta launched Ugly Duckling Color in 2014, he saw that the professional market was going blonder and blonder. He developed products which could cater to this trend., The professional market was also becoming very internet driven and very social, and this called for a different approach as well. Ugly Duckling Color was the result. His market share keeps expanding and stylists and consumers are demanding his products.

Some of Ugly Duckling best sellers include:

  • Brilliant Blonde: Purple Shampoo and Purple Masque
  • The Fastest, Whitest Blond Toners: Pearl Blonde and Silver
  • Blue Based Ash: Blonde Colors
  • Blondexx: Bond Protect Bleach- No damage to your hair

Ishan spent some time answering our Q and A, so we could delve a little more into his successful endeavors.

 Q: Ishan, please share with the Swagger readers how and why you launched Ugly Duckling?

 Ishan: I have been working in beauty, hair and marketing since I completed Business School, so I knew the industry and the marketing side.

But my experience was all in major corporations, and honestly, I am an entrepreneur at heart, not a Corporate man. 

I had a really big desire to start something of my own. The professional beauty industry is fairly conservative, and I was convinced there was a need for a more fashion-focused hair color brand. There were all these women out there going ultra-white blonde, going for the vibrant colors and for dramatic color makeovers. I wanted to create products which would allow stylists to cater to these women without compromise. 

That was the essence of it, really. 

After that I started looking for formulations and testing them in salons which I knew. I did that while I was working at my regular job. That took a full year, but it was worth it, because when we launched, we had a range of colors which I literally knew one by one. Each one had been fine tuned to give these really eye-popping fashion color results.

 Q: How did you develop the name?

Ishan: The name was suggested by my wife! I liked it straight away and registered it.  We all know the story about the Ugly Duckling which turned into a swan. And the word “Ugly”, is a little unusual for a beauty brand, but it helps us to stick out in the internet world. So, I think it works!

 Q: Are your products used by men and women?

 Ishan: We do have some men these days attracted to our fashion colors. But of course, women are a large market for us.

 Q: Are there any news on the color front for men in 2020?

Ishan: We definitely see an increasing number of men are going for the bleached and silver blonde look. We have a great new intense silver blonde toner which caters to that. 

Grey is also really big now, and when I say grey, I mean actually coloring your hair grey, not natural grey! Believe it or not, it looks really elegant and we have some pictures of men with grey hair color on our Instagram page which I invite you to check out!

We have a metallic grey in particular which is really popular with men. 

Apart from that, honestly, it’s the good quality barbering which makes a man stand out. A great haircut, and I do mean a really, really great haircut, is really important. 

Q: Do celebrities influence the consumer on hair color trends?

Ishan: Yes, they do. Lady Gaga is a good example. She is a natural brunette who will not tolerate being anything other than Platinum Blonde from roots to ends. It’s the kind of color look that is really popular at the moment, and hair dressers do need to cater to this. Absolutely.

Q: What are your best-selling products?

Ishan: Our best-selling products are our blonding products:  bleaches, toners, ash blondes’ colors, also our purple shampoo & mask range for blonde hair.

Q: Why is your brand unique?

Ishan: Well, I think there are a few things which we do well. 

Number one I would say is the quality and accuracy of the color results. We’ve worked really hard on that and we do deliver in that area rather well. A lot of people come to us after getting frustrated not achieving the color result they are looking for.  

Another thing which I think we do well is our online training. The color training and tutorials we provide on Facebook, Instagram and on our website are pretty unique. They deal with very real-life situations, they are not faked at all, and they show the kind of issues that stylists face every day in the salon. You know, when women come in and their hair is a total mess and they expect their hairdresser to fix it and turn them blonde!


Q: Where do you see Ugly Duckling Color in the next 3- 5 years?

 Ishan: I really think there is a lot to do and we are literally just getting started out. 

There is clearly a massive potential in haircare and styling which we haven’t really gotten into yet and we will. 

We need to be in many more doors – professional beauty shops, professional wholesalers, hair academies, even some chains. There is a lot of potential there. 

We are doing particularly well in cosmetology schools, and that’s a really great sign for the future and we want to build on that. 

Each year there are thousands of new stylists learning the trade. They are typically very digitally savvy and they are always looking for a new and interesting brand to learn with and to use. So, it’s a really good fit.

We also need to be at more trade shows and put our name in front of hairdressers. We will definitely be doing more of that.

I am not even talking about international expansion at this stage because there is so much to do just in the US and Canada for now. 

You can learn more about Ishan and Ugly Duckling Color at: https://www.uglyducklingcolor.com/

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