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Hair Color - What You Need to Know

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What's in a Name?:

When it comes to coloring your hair, everything! Not only do different types of hair color give you different results, the chemical processes you already have on your hair can greatly affect the coloring results you get, good or bad.

Just walk down any hair care product aisle and you'll find every hair color-in-a-box under the sun. You can be a blonde, redhead, coffee brown or jet black hair beauty. You can also consult with your stylist for her input and professional advice. Before you choose a color, you need to first choose which type works best for you.

Temporary Hair Color:

As the name suggests, this color won't last long. They're usually marketed under the term "hair rinses" and only coat your hair's cuticle; they don't penetrate it. Because of that, they're perfect for relaxed hair as they don't place a lot of additional stress on it. Temporary hair color gradually washes out over time, usually a period of a month or so, depending on how often you shampoo.

Caution:

If your hair is gray or white, temporary hair color is not temporary: It will leave a permanent stain on your hair.

Semi-Permanent Hair Color:

Semi-permanent hair color is made for darkening or adding depth to the hair, not for lightening. It coats the hair much like a rinse, but some types do contain small amounts of peroxide (not enough to lighten the hair). You'll often find an activator inside a home semi-permanent color box, which makes your color darker. This is a good option for adding richness to your existing hair color and will last about four to eight weeks.

Be careful applying this color all over. It's best to concentrate on the roots. Otherwise, you can get a buildup of color on the ends of your hair, giving you a two-tone look you don't want.

Permanent Hair Color:

Now we move on to permanent colors, which are perfect for giving you a whole new look or for covering significant amounts of gray. However, because of the higher levels of peroxide, permanent color is better for:

  • Healthy, natural hair
  • Lightly texturized hair

For women with relaxed hair, a stylist would need to apply a lower-peroxide formula for safe coloring. You can't get this in a box, although you can dilute your home hair color with water (approximately 1/4 to 1/2 oz. added to the solution).

When you want a really dramatic style switch, permanent color is the way to go.

Highlights:

For a subtle or not-so-subtle change, try highlights. Benefits of highlights include:

  • You can ease into coloring, starting with a small section
  • They'll brighten and bring attention to your face

When choosing to highlight your hair, use tint highlights instead of bleach, especially if your hair is relaxed. For the best overall look, wear highlights that are compatible to your existing base color. Blonde highlights look better with a dark blonde base, while bronze highlights work with cinnamon. Platinum blonde on jet black? While definitely dramatic, this can be too much contrast.

One of the best aspects of hair color is that it can provide you with an almost instant change, a real lift. If you've been feeling drab and want a pick-me-up, hair color can be an inexpensive, quick way to switch up your look. For do-it-yourself types, all of those boxes calling from the shelf can be quite tempting, but if you're a total newbie to color, it's best to call your stylist. Too many bad dye jobs are a result of too-little information and too much time.

Still want to try it yourself? See what the Beauty Guide has to say about coloring your hair at home.

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