A Guide to Hair Color

How to arrive at the best of all possible shades? Our panel of superstar colorists answers your most-asked questions.

By Lois Joy Johnson
It kicks up the color without your having to worry about buildup." — Brian KellerQ. Is the Japanese straightening technique safe for color-processed hair?A. "Be extremely cautious with relaxers. Salon straightening treatments are effective, but can be hell on color-treated hair. I find that the more conventional cream relaxers are less damaging than Japanese straightening for hair that has extreme color — for example, double-process blond on a former brunette. If the percentage of highlighted hair is high, or if your highlights have progressed past the golden stage to yellow or white, any kind of relaxing will cause breakage." — Beth MinardiAt-Home ColorOur picks of new products that make it even easier to get the look you want.For BrunettesFor very dark browns who want to go lighter without going redder: L’Oreal Superior Preference Les True Brunettes ($10) — gives you a true nutmeg or mahogany without any red intruding. For serious gray coverage that’s also gentle on hair: Clairol Herbal Essences Bold ‘n Brilliant Color ($10) — permanent, so it covers gray, but ammonia-free and enriched with botanicals. To lighten very dark hair: Garnier 100% Color Ultra-Lift Browns ($7) — provides one-step lightening of up to four levels without brassiness.For BlondesFor overall lightening plus highlights in one box: L’Oreal Couleur Expert Multitonal Color System ($22) — permanent gel-cream color plus highlights and lowlights. For total gray coverage plus deep conditioning: Clairol Hydrience Deep Moisturizing Color Creme ($8) — comes with a large size of Pantene IntensivMoisture After-Color Therapy. For extra-light shades: Garnier 100% Color New Blondes ($7). For convenient touchups between color jobs: Clairol Nice ‘n Easy Root Touch-Up ($7) — 10 "halftime" portions of color for parts and hairline.For In-BetweensFor an extra layer of shine: L’Oreal Tone Refiner ($9) — a sheer five-minute gloss that tones down brassiness and ramps up shine. For slight lightening that’s gentle on hair: Clairol Natural Instincts ($8) — a nonammonia, no-roots, low-peroxide gray-blender with aloe and ginseng conditioners.For your choice of bold or subtle highlights: L’Oreal Paris Hi-Light Styliste Hi-Control Brush-on Highlights ($11) — a slim highlighting wand and chunky streak brush; four shades. For a color fresh-up: Artec Color Depositing Moisturizer in a warm shade like Orange Marigold or Ginger Root bumps up highlights ($16).Originally published in MORE magazine, July/August 2005.

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