Everything You Need to Know About Hair Color

Getting your hair color right isn't a science. It's really quite simple: Stick to colors that complement your skin tone, figure out if you're best off with all-over color or highlights and then decide if you're going to pay someone else to do it or do it yourself.

Here are 11 tips and tricks your hairdresser knows, from how to avoid the wrong color to exactly how to do it yourself.

  1. Pick the right shade of blonde Some women look good in any color , but most women don't. Some rules of thumb for going blonde, which is my favorite beauty book of the moment:
    Sallow skin with yellow undertones? Deep golds aren't for you.
    Pink skin? Avoid strawberry shades.
    Doing it yourself? It's best to go no more than a couple shades lighter than your current shade.
  2. The right way to go (or stay) brown

    Here are more Allure tips for going dark: If you're pale, careful with the super dark tones, you might look ghostly and older. (Eeek).
    Just as with blonde, it's best to start out just a couple shades from your natural color. In this case, avoid going more than a couple shades darker initially.
  3. To color or to highlight, that's the question. We find women with short hair look better with full color rather than highlights. If you have medium-length to long hair, highlights -- especially around the face -- can be very flattering. For the most natural-looking highlights, you can ask your stylist for up to five different shades of color, according to 'Confessions.' Keep in mind that due to root growth, all-over coloring will need to be touched up every four to eight weeks, while highlights can last up to two or three months.
  4. Different types of highlights. There are basically four types of highlights: basic foil highlights, baliage or 'hair painting', chunking or 'piecing' and lowlighting.
  5. Doing it yourself? Home-color kits have come a long way in the past few years and are perfect for busy people and those who want cut the cost of professional colorings. (We know of a couple top fashion editors who color their hair themselves!). Some great hair coloring kits include:
  6. Coloring newbie? Start with a semipermanent color. Semipermanent colors wash out after a few washes, whereas permanent colors have to grow out. If you are new to coloring your hair, you might start with a semipermanent hue UNLESS you want to cover gray hair or go two or more shades lighter or darker. For more information on semipermanent vs.
  7. How to tell if you'd make a great blonde A basic rule of thumb: People who had blonde hair as children have the right skin tone to be blonde adults. Some home hair coloring tips: rub Vaseline around your hairline as a protective measure before applying color. To remove after coloring, rub a small amount of cream cleanser and wipe off with cotton balls. Always wear gloves and wrap an old dark-colored towel around your shoulders. Rinse your eyes with water if you get color in your eyes. If you forgot the Vaseline and stained your skin, rub the area with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol-based toner.
  8. How to hide that gray Gray hair can be resilient to hair dye because of its coarse texture. If your hair is less than 15 percent gray, opt for a semi-permanent color that's a shade lighter than your natural color (or matches your color). The gray will blend right in. If your hair is more gray, colorist Rita Hazan in the November 2004 issue of InStyle magazine, suggests a permanent 'ashy' color, which will help your gray hair appear blonde. Permanent colors are really the only way to completely cover gray hair,
  9. Don't like the color? Don't be afraid to go back to the salon and talk to your stylist. There are all sorts of ways to fix color that's just not right. If you did it yourself with a semi-permanent color, look for a shampoo with 'ammonium laurel sulfate' to wash away the color faster, according to Getting Gorgeous.
  10. After care. Once you invest money in a hair color, you should protect your investment with the proper after-color care. Refresh your color by using a color-enhancing shampoo and conditioner once a week. These products deposit miniscule amounts of color into hair.
  11. Root rescue. You can expect your color to last about 6 to eight weeks before your roots show. If your hair is colored, you'll want to get your roots touched up or do them yourself with a kit you can buy at the store like Clairol Nice and Easy Root Touch Ups. Be sure and test the color first before applying.
    If you have highlights or lowlights, you can avoid having your whole head colored by asking your stylist to do your hairline, crown and part. A word of warning: Foil highlights require precise application and fixing dark roots is nearly impossible. Ask about easier to maintain highlighting techniques.

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