Perfect Hair Color"I'm a big believer in at-home haircolor - it can look impressively natural," says colorist Louis Licari, who owns salons in New York City and Beverly Hills and is a member of our Advisory Board. Here, his tips for gorgeous color every time.
• Wash a day earlier Especially if you have a sensitive scalp. If you shampoo the same day, the chemicals are more likely to make your skin tingle and cause irritation.
• Do a test strand If you're not confident about your color choice, test a length of hair on the back of your head. You can see how the color will turn out, and any "oops" results will be hidden. A test also lets you make sure a new dye doesn't cause an allergic reaction.
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• Team up This is one case where DIY is not easier. It's simpler for someone else, who can see the back of your head, to nail an even application. Ask a girlfriend over, or make an evening of it and trade off helping each other.
• Protect your skin Hair dye can soak into your skin and leave a shadow that can last a couple of days - a dead giveaway of an at-home color job. To stop dye from staining, rub Vaseline as close as possible to your hairline, from ear to ear, without actually touching your locks. This is especially important if you're using certain facial treatments, like exfoliating glycolics, which make skin more likely to absorb pigment.
• Avoid one color block The hair around your face is slightly lighter than that on the rest of your head, and hair becomes progressively darker as it reaches the nape. Salon colorists mimic this variation by applying a slightly lighter shade around the face. An at-home trick: In addition to your usual dye, purchase a box that's a shade softer, and brush it on the first eighth of an inch around your face.
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• Don't go too light When women go gray, they often go lighter to avoid a strong root line - and to save themselves the hassle of too-frequent dye jobs. But light hair color next to pale or neutral skin drains the life out of a complexion. A shade that contrasts with skin keeps it looking vibrant - and youthful.
• Refresh your color When you touch up your roots, be careful not to overlap with what's already been dyed - you don't want to darken the color you currently have. Then try this trick for a color boost: After you let the dye process on your roots as instructed on the box, squirt in a bit of shampoo and work it through the rest of your hair for three to five minutes to help spread the color. (The shampoo also dilutes the power of the dye.)
• Rethink gray coverage Certain shades, due to their chemistry, are better at covering gray. A woman with resistant grays may need to rethink her strategy and switch to color with "neutral" or "natural" in its name (in other words, choose natural brown over ash brown): It'll have the greatest spectrum of colors in the base and give the most opaque result, so gray won't show through.
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