Our moods shift with the changing seasons, as do our wardrobes and our accessories. Hair coloring, once only a means of covering up gray, is now considered an accessory to complete our fashion statements. As we head into autumn, the sun-kissed blonde hair color we loved during the summer fades just as surely as our memories of 4th of July fireworks.
According to L'Oreal Spokesperson Jennifer Stephens, "The color palette changes like the leaves on trees," during fall, with hair colors becoming darker and richer. "It's a matter of working with different products to get warmth in the hair - warm, burnished red or rich chocolate brown," Stephens advises.
At-home coloring products allow us to try out new colors and new techniques as our moods dictate. Why not dive in and discover the wonders of a new look for a new season?
Step 1: Temporary or Permanent?
If you've never tried at-home hair coloring, but are ready to take the plunge, decide how permanent you want your new look to be. Here are the choices:
- Semi-Permanent - Doesn't change or lighten your natural hair color because the color molecules are small and wash out in 6-12 shampoos. It covers 50% of gray, doesn't leave roots and is easy to use
- Demi-Permanent - Brightens hair without lightening your natural color, and blends and covers about 40% of gray. Demi-permanent leaves no obvious roots and lasts 24-28 shampoos
- Permanent - Your natural color is lightened and tiny molecules of color embed into the hair shaft, then expand so that it won't wash out, which means you'll have to touch up the roots every 4-6 weeks. Permanent hair color completely covers gray and can lighten your hair within a few shades of its natural color.
Step 2: Pick a Color
According to Jennifer Stephens, spokesperson for L'Oreal, the first step in choosing a color is to determine the natural color of your hair. The combination of your natural hair color, the amount of gray you have and the shade of hair coloring that you choose determines the resulting color. Factors to consider are:
- Shade Range - The rule of thumb is that your shade range is up to two shades lighter or darker than your natural color. According to Stephens, if your natural hair color is light brown (L'Oreal's 6), you can lighten your hair to a medium blonde (8) or darken it to a dark brown (4)
- Complexion - The tone of a color should compliment your complexion. If your complexion is "cool," that is, pink or ruddy, choose a cool-toned hair color - one with words like Ash, Champagne or Beige in the shade name. If your skin tone is "warm," or golden, olive or dark, choose a color with warm tones, such as one with words like Golden, Copper, Auburn or Red in the shade name
If you want to have fun with hair color without making a commitment, check out the "Try it All On" section of www.clairol.com. You can use your own picture and "try on" different hair colors and styles. You can also complete a questionnaire about your natural hair color and complexion and the look you are trying to achieve, and receive an instant recommendation for the Clairol products that will give you the results you want.
Step 3: Getting Ready
It's almost time to color, so make sure you're ready:
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions and perform a skin allergy test 48 prior to coloring your hair
- Generally, you shouldn't shampoo or condition your hair 24 hours before coloring, since shampoo removes the oils that will protect your scalp during coloring
- If your hair is below shoulder length or very thick, you'll need to buy two boxes of hair color for maximum coverage
- If you're going to perm or relax your hair, do so before you color, and wait about 7-10 days before coloring
- If your hair is severely damaged, hold off on the hair color until the damage is repaired. Damaged hair absorbs color more easily than healthy hair, and causes uneven results
Step 4: Color It!
Now that you're ready to color, don't forget the:
- Strand Test - Follow the manufacturer's instructions for a strand test, which will let you gauge how long to leave the color on your hair. Because the natural color, texture and condition of your hair all affect the final color, don't assume what the end result will be
- Cover-Up - Wear an old robe or shirt with buttons, so you won't have to pull your shirt over your head before rinsing
- Soapy Cloth - Immediately wipe up any drips or spills while you're coloring
- Instructions - Closely follow the manufacturer's instructions, and keep the packaging. That way, you'll have the emergency hotline number handy, and will know the color name and number when you go to buy the product again
Step 5: Stay Beautiful!
Once you have your new look, you need to keep your hair as healthy as possible. Use a shampoo for color-treated hair and condition your hair every time you wash it. Conditioners help seal the hair and keep the color in. If you've gone with permanent color, plan to touch up the roots in 4-6 weeks.
Hot and Hip
If you want to get creative, here are two fun tips from L'Oreal:
- If you have bangs, try applying a lighter shade to your bangs and a darker shade to your hair for a face-lighting illusion
- Use two different shades for a "tipping" effect by applying a light shade from your roots to almost the ends of your hair, then a darker shade to the ends
More on Hair Coloring