Great Hair 2012: The New Rules of Hair Color

Who has time to go to a salon every few weeks to get hair color touched up? Here’s how more women are stretching the time between salon visits.
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1. Gray Area

To dye or not to dye—that seems to be the new question. Though
more than 60 percent of women color their hair, according to a 2012
Clairol survey, local stylists are starting to see an uptick in women who
are embracing their silver strands.

“I’ve had many of my clients for over 25 years, and this is the
first time I’m seeing some of them just go with their gorgeous gray hair,”
says George Ozturk of George at the Four Seasons Salon, who attributes the
trend to women wanting hair with less fuss. “When done right, it’s so
elegant and chic, but you have to start with a full head of gray.” In
other words, if you’re going to skip dye, it’s best to wait until you’re
fully gray.

Keep it short and straight, because long white hair can age a
person and smooth locks reflect light and prevent hair from looking dull.
A few highlights around the face add shine and perfect the
color.

2. Less Is More

Photograph of Parker by Lee/Everett Collection/Newscom. Photograph of Barrymore by A. Miller/WENN.com/Newscom. Photograph of Aniston by FD-ACE Pictures/Newscom. Photograph of Keaton by fayesVision/WENN.com/Newscom.

Not ready to go gray—or to stay your natural shade—but also not
interested in touching up color every four or five weeks? You’re not
alone.

“Color is about being low-maintenance right now,” says stylist
Timo Nguyen of George at the Four Seasons Salon. Here are four color
techniques that require less upkeep.

Balayage
Forget foils—balayage highlights, like the ones here on Sarah
Jessica Parker, are painted on by hand in a sweeping motion (hence the
French word for “sweeping”) that deposits the lightest color at the roots
and the heaviest at the ends. The chunky, sun-kissed effect lasts up to
three months without touchups, says Nguyen.

Ombré
Blending color from dark to light—say, dark brown roots and
honey-blond ends, à la Drew Barrymore—with no harsh transition allows for
up to four months of carefree color, says Nuri Yurt of Toka Salon &
Day Spa. The technique usually employs highlights that start at the middle
of the hair and run to the ends, and it’s best for long hair, so it
doesn’t look as if your roots are growing in.

Brond
An easy fall transition from all-out summer blond, “brond” is a
fusion of brown and blond—think model Gisele Bündchen and actress Jennifer
Aniston. For blondes, it’s a way to blend in highlights or return to their
natural level, says Nguyen. For brunettes, it’s a way to go lighter
without looking as though hair has been dyed.

Partial Gray
Covering gray once meant getting rid of every strand—at a high
cost and time commitment. Today, Diane Keaton and others blend gray with
highlights that turn them blond or with lowlights that return color to its
natural level. Yurt also likes demi-permanent formulas that blend 50
percent of grays and shampoo out gradually, leaving no demarcation as hair
grows out.

3. Think Inside the Box

According to a recent survey by Mintel Group, a market-research
firm, 38 percent of women colored their hair at home in the past year. For
most, it’s a question of saving time as well as money—think $8 instead of
$80 or more.

Another reason: New formulas and technologies provide
simpler-than-ever solutions to getting a mane worth dying for, including
mousses that are less messy than liquid dye.

Say you just want to stretch out salon visits. Here’s a new
breed of touchup tools that are virtually goof-proof:

Revlon Root Erase by ColorSilk ($4.49 at CVS) and L’Oréal Root
Rescue
($6.99 at drugstores). An applicator deposits color directly onto
hair instead of dragging it through the strands—and potentially pushing it
into hair that doesn’t need it.

Rita Hazan Root Concealer ($24 at sephora.com) and Oscar Blandi
Pronto Colore Root Touch Up and Highlighting Pen
($23 at ulta.com).
Perfect for home-color commitment-phobes, these tools let you color in
your roots and grays with temporary color that lasts only until your next
shampoo.

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