Sunday, December 30, 2007

KK: Hair Color Wizard

....or village idiot?

A tale of hair color rebellion
I have always been an at-home hair colorist. From the first time I experimented with color in (yikes!) 9th grade, I have been absolutely inspired by the possibilities that come in those little boxes with some random blonde chick on the front.
I colored at home throughout college - mainly because I had to - and kept it up all these years. Every so often I would make a pit stop and check out this thing called "salon color." But it made me crazy that I had no control over it, so again I went to the blonde out of the box.

Fortunately, my hair mishaps have been few and far between for the last - gulp - almost twenty years (yes, I am waaaaay older than I look!). I have learned that as long as I stick with a variation of beige-y blonde, I've always been pretty happy with my results. I have also expanded my knowledge into the realm of highlighting, and most recently, I also started lowlighting. I am so "good" at my own weird technique (which I learned is what many pros use and is called balyage) that I have actually fooled the professional stylists quite often. Scary, I know. Now that I can afford the best salon treatments out there, I STILL want to do it myself!

The wonderful Gary Mandalfino colored me back in September - and I was delighted with the result. But something was missing. I love the risk and rebellion involved in doing it on my own. I can make it extra bright or throw in some golden brown at my whim. I love to play and have fun with my hair. What can I say? I am a wild & crazy girl.

So, when I saw The Hair Color Mix Book by Lorri Goddard-Clark (HarperCollins, 2007. $24.95), I had to have it! This is the book I have been searching for lo these many years! Not only does this celebrity colorist spill her secret recipes, but she actually says it is OKAY to EXPERIMENT at HOME!!! (My stylists have never given me carte blanche to do that. I wonder why???) I actually felt more like I was back in chemistry lab in college than using a hair color "cookbook." I think she intended a cooking sort of feel by giving her recipes names like "Vanilla Dreamcicle Creamcicle" and "Amber Honey Dream with Lemon Blossom Ribbons."

She says it's okay to use off-the-shelf boxed hair colors and highlighting kits, which I already do. I didn't use any of her recipes today, but instead, I here's what I learned that worked:

1) It's perfectly ok (and almost required) to mix more than one color to get the color you want. I mixed 3/4 champagne blonde with 1/4 golden blonde to make my base color.

2) A toothbrush and Tung brush make ideal applicators for highlights.

3) Mixing about a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil into the highlighting mixture makes it easier to apply (it's usually dry and cakey) and protects the hair a bit during the chemical process.

4) Highlights "lift" more if you add 2 capfuls of #40 peroxide to the mixture, and remove 2 capfuls of the developer that comes with the kit.

5) Mix up your base color and apply for about 5 minutes and rinse out to cover roots and pump up faded color.

I highly recommend this book if one wants approval for being an at-home hair color aficionado (I needed the green light, even though I've been playing with my hair for years) and some really great tips, techniques and products to make the process easier and more effective.

Even if you don't use the recipes (and I may or may not down the road), it is filled with fabulous info your hair stylist doesn't want you to know!!

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