Changing your hair color can go wonderfully right―or horribly wrong. That’s why so many people put their heads in the trusty hands of Rita Hazan, owner of the Rita Hazan Salon, in New York City.
“The right shade enhances a woman’s face and hair texture without overpowering her,” she says. Hazan has spent more than 15 years working her way to the top of her field. Read on for Hazan’s tips on how to get the best results, whether you’re coloring at home or at a salon, and her go-to products.
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It’s easy to dye at home if you do a single process, which covers grays, and you vary only slightly from your natural shade. For highlights or a dramatic change (from brown to blond, for example), see a professional. Before applying color, dab petroleum jelly around your hairline to prevent staining. Start a timer (set to the recommended time) when you begin coloring. When it rings, rinse hair all at once.
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Home Hair Color for Blonds
L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference ($9.50 at drugstores) is Hazan’s favorite line for light hair. “It has a big selection of shades that look natural but are striking,” she says. If you’re unsure which color to choose, look for one marked “natural.” Not too warm or too cool, these enhance most complexions.
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Home Hair Color for Brunets
Hazan favors Clairol Natural Instincts ($9 at drugstores), a demipermanent formula that lasts through 28 shampoos and rinses out slowly, so you won’t see regrowth. It has no ammonia, so it’s gentler than permanent color, and it actually conditions to make hair look glossier.
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Home Hair Color for Redheads
Try L’Oréal Paris Féria Multi-Faceted Shimmering Colour ($10 at drugstores). “It contains intense pigments, so the color lasts,” says Hazan, who suggests picking one shade lighter than what you want. “Reds can come out more vibrant on the hair than they look on the box.”
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At the Salon
Prep your hair. Apply a deep-conditioning hair mask a couple of days before your appointment, says Hazan. The moisture will help your hair hold the pigment better. And if you have a sensitive scalp, avoid shampooing the day before. “Chemicals used in color can irritate the skin,” she says. “Your scalp’s natural oils will protect it.”
A picture says it all. You may tell your colorist “honey” but wind up with a rich, amber brown instead of the golden color you envisioned. “Words mean different things to different people,” she says. “Bring a photo to clear up any confusion.” A good colorist can match the shade or steer you toward a color that will be more flattering for you. Consider the upkeep. Be realistic about how much maintenance you can handle. If you know it will be difficult (or expensive) to get to the salon for touch-ups every six weeks, stick with a shade that’s close to your natural one, or just go with face-framing highlights. “Enhancing your color instead of drastically changing it will give you the most bang for your buck,” says Hazan. And because you’re staying close to your own shade, your roots will be less noticeable, which means you can go longer between salon appointments.
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Hazan’s Picks for Maintaining Color
“Dry, damaged hair doesn’t hold pigment well, so the color fades,” says Hazan. Sun and frequent shampooing can speed up that process, so she relies on products that nurture hair and help color last.
Sunsilk Hydra TLC Shampoo
“This is extra gentle on all hair types,” says Hazan, who recommends washing colored hair a few times a week. It contains amino acids and keratin to soften and smooth down rough cuticles.
Hazan loves this thick cream because “it’s very hydrating, it smells great, and it leaves hair silky-smooth.” She applies it after every shampoo but also likes to use it as a 10-minute mask when hair is in need of a quick dose of moisture.
“Apply this before bed and leave it on overnight,” she says. “It sinks into damaged hair to help keep color inside.” Containing egg-yolk oil, it’s rich in proteins, vitamin E, and strengthening lipids.
“The natural boar bristles are easier on color-treated hair than synthetic ones,” says Hazan. “And they won’t melt when heat styling.” She uses it with her Elchim 2001 Hair Dryer ($105, 800-875-7511 for salons), which dries by using high air pressure instead of excessive heat. “It has a lifetime guarantee.”