These days, hair-care companies are doing a good job of bringing the latest salon technologies to your home color kit. There's a lot you can do to ensure that your color is technically flawless. Our experts offer a few pointers you probably won't find on the package.
Don't go for drama.
"Big changes—taking brunette hair platinum or blonde hair red—are for beauty salons," says Beth Minardi, co-owner of New York City's Minardi Salon. "Stay within two shades of your natural color, whether you're going lighter or darker."
Gather your tools before you begin.
"You don't want to start squeezing color onto your hair and then have to run upstairs for a towel," says Jane Anders, associate director of research and development for Clairol.
Do the strand test.
"Try the color on a small, hidden section of your hair," says Minardi. "If you don't like it, it's not too late to go back to the store and choose a different shade."
If your kit requires mixing, apply the color immediately.
"The formula starts processing as soon as you mix it, whether it's on your hair or not," says Anders.
Take a less-is-more approach to highlighting.
"Work with very narrow sections—less than a quarter of an inch wide—and clip the other hair out of the way," says Anders. "Otherwise, you may brush color where you don't want it." Part your hair normally and work back-and-forth—switching from one side of your head to the other, a highlight on one side of your part, a highlight on the other side, says Anders. Leave at least a quarter of an inch between highlights, and be conservative. You can always add a few more next time.
To cover roots, apply color only to the re-growth.
Then smooth it over the previously colored hair a few minutes before the processing time is up, says Minardi. "That way you won't over-process and damage your hair."
Your Hair Color Glossary
From the April 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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