Women have been struggling with hair color for centuries: Gauls at the end of the Iron Age used limewater to bleach their locks a stark white ( la model Abbey Lee Kershaw); the ancient Greeks mixed potash water with yellow flowers to impart a golden sheen; and in early Rome, women masked grays with a mixture of ashes, boiled walnut shells, and earthworms. You'll find none of these remedies here!
TRENDS TO TRY NOW
SANDY BLONDE Nestled between brunette and blonde, "sandy blonde is a good transitional shade," says Manhattan-based colorist Marie Robinson. "And you don't have to worry about it getting too messed up with chlorine because it's darker, more forgiving."
FAINT PASTELS Both Ashley Olsen and Kelly Osbourne have dabbled in pastels before — baby-blue streaks and an allover lilac, respectively — but the new way to wear them is more understated. "Ask your colorist to add a slight pastel tint to the toner so it will give a blush to blonde hair," says Lena Ott of NYC's ION Studio.
RICH BRUNETTES This season's browns differentiate themselves with a spectrum of unexpected undertones — Robinson loves light browns with a complexion-flattering caramel reddish tone, while Ott favors cedar browns with hints of light-catching violet.
PLATINUM When it comes to visual impact, platinum is a winner. And that Jean Harlow-esque champagne has been updated for today. "Think Nordic blonde like Michelle Williams," says Victoria Hunter of Whittemore House Salon. "Blonde and bright, but really clean."
OMBRé Popular within every color family, ombré (which means "shadow" in French) is an effect where one color at the roots gradually transitions to another shade at the ends. Negin Zand of Sally Hershberger's L.A. salon reveals how to make it modern: "Add fine highlights at the root, then keep it thicker toward the bottom."
Subtle hue changes that make a big impact
IF YOU'RE A BLONDE ...GO STRAWBERRY
Flirt with the idea of red, while still keeping it in the family. "Gloss a blonde with a reddish or strawberry tone," says Serge Normant Salon colorist Aura Friedman. "You can do that really golden coppery strawberry blonde, or a cooler, ginger version like Evan Rachel Wood."
IF YOU'RE A BRUNETTE ... ADD SUBTLE DIMENSION
Make your cocoa hue a bit hotter. "Liv Tyler is a great example," says Robinson. "She has a rich chocolate brown with subtle light chestnut shades throughout her hair, so it's not monochromatic and has reflection."
IF YOU'RE A REDHEAD ... CHANNEL CHRISTINA HENDRICKS
Television's favorite vixen has a red that packs a punch. "What's so beautiful about Christina's red is that it strikes the balance between blue-red and orange-copper, so it could fit a lot of skin tones," says Robinson.
Overexposure to water and sun can translate to major fading for colored hair during the summer months. Here, six tips to keep your color vibrant all season long:
USE PROTECTION. Create a barrier between hair and the elements by coating strands. "Wet your hair first, and then apply conditioner before taking a swim," says Ott. "This will act as a buffer so your hair won't absorb chlorine." Oils like Couture Color Pequi Oil Treatment ($32) will also do the trick.
CLEANSE CAREFULLY. Aveda's Color Conserve shampoo and conditioner ($15 each) are gentle on dyed strands, while Kérastase's new Chroma Sensitive Cleansing Balm ($42) is a sulfate-free, low-foam formula that helps fight fading. If you notice fade-out, try a color-depositing shampoo and conditioner.
TRY A GLOSS. "A gloss helps touch you up in between appointments and protects color," says Ott. "It will also extend the life of your color a bit."
ADD SHINE. A weekly hydrating mask is essential for colored hair. Bosley's Professional Strength Moisture Masque ($39), Marie Robinson's Colorist Cure ($75), and Bumble and Bumble's Creme de Coco Masque ($26) all restore shine and quench dry, brittle strands.
COOL IT DOWN. "When you're taking a shower, just do one quick shock of cool water at the end to really keep in color and shine," says Friedman.
PREVENT BUILDUP. Chlorine, salt, and products can quickly wear out their welcome on your scalp. "A clarifying shampoo is essential during the summer," says Hunter. "But only use it when you really notice buildup [probably once a month] because it not only draws out the bad stuff, it takes out color as well."
NEW COLOR TOOLS
With updated consistencies and longer-lasting formulas, newfangled dye products turn your bathroom into the salon
Extend the time between color with handy touch-up tools. Manhattan colorist Rita Hazan's Root Concealer ($24) is a spray-on formula that masquerades both grays and roots, making color last an extra two weeks. "It's easy to use and doesn't come out until you shampoo," says Hazan. Even more straightforward, Avon's Advance Techniques Color Protection Root Touch-Up ($8) is essentially mascara (a comb-in gel tint) for your hair.
Traditionally, dramatic color change has required a trip to the salon, but a couple of new con-tenders may change that. Kelly Van Gogh's Multi-Dimensional Luxury Colour ($39) uses a patented cold-pressed delivery system that pushes color deep into the hair cuticle while simultaneously nourishing strands. And Natural Instincts Vibrant ($9) is a demi-permanent, intense color formula that lasts up to eight weeks, covers grays, and can lighten hair.
The texture of the moment is light-as-air. L'Oréal Paris' Sublime Mousse ($10) has a frothy consistency that can be massaged in like shampoo, while both John Frieda's Precision Foam Colour ($13) and Clairol's Nice 'n Easy Color Blend Foam ($9) feature fluffy formulas that provide even coverage and can be applied with fingertips. Bonus: All are completely drip-resistant.
BEFORE YOU COLOR
Zoe Wiepert of Bumble and Bumble offers three pre-treatment tips
1. "Always start in the back when coloring at home because that's where hair is naturally darker. The hair around your face is finer and more porous, which means that it's going to grab color quicker, and that will give you that wiggy, inky look."
2. "Keep your sections clean and separate so there's no overlap — otherwise, those areas will become darker. If you feel like you need to go over sections, it's best just to do it for the last three to five minutes on the ends."
3. "Make sure hair is in good condition before you color. The more porous hair is, the more it absorbs dye, resulting in inconsistent color."
Some of the best remedies for your hair color problems are hiding in your kitchen.
KETCHUP "If you're swimming in chlorine too much and your hair — any shade — turns green, try using ketchup all over your strands to neutralize the green. Warning: Very pale blondes may turn a little beige." — Marie Robinson
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR "Once a week, do a rinse with a capful of apple cider vinegar mixed with three cups of warm water to seal in color." — Aura Friedman
VODKA "Shampoo, then mix a half-cup of vodka with four cups of hot water and pour it over your hair, avoiding your eyes. This will help remove chlorine and mineral deposits. Plus, it also helps get rid of henna." — A.F.
DISH SOAP "Get rid of chlorine buildup by mixing dish soap with baking soda to create a paste, then put it on the ends, which is usually where you get most of that green discoloration. Make sure to use a good conditioner afterward because this treatment leaves hair squeaky clean." — Zoe Wiepert
COCONUT OIL "Salt water, like the sun, can brighten hair and also break it down and make it drier. Once a week, put coconut oil all over hair and sleep on it." — Z.W.
EGGS, OLIVE OIL, VINEGAR "Mix raw eggs, olive oil, and vinegar into a hair mask, and keep it on for 30 minutes to help color shine." — Z.W.
CHAMOMILE TEA, HONEY "Brew a pot of chamomile tea with a few drops of lavender oil, then add three tablespoons of honey and let it cool to a lukewarm temperature. Pour it over your hair and leave in for five minutes. The chamomile gives blondes a nice golden tone, while the honey makes hair super-shiny and the lavender oil soothes the scalp." — Victoria Hunter
25 Stylish Ways to Cover Bad Hair