Beauty on a Budget: Hair Color Maintenance

Written by Frances Grove

I’m always trying to give my mojo a boost because I believe swagger is a healthy sign of self-esteem. I add a bit of zest to my day however I can, especially when I’m feeling a little blue. I drive with the sunroof open and the stereo blasting pop music; I strut around in platform wedges; I buy myself flowers. But my favorite way to put some pep in my step is to get my hair done.

I recently went to the salon and said the words every hairdresser longs to hear: “Do whatever you think would look best.” I walked in with fading auburn hair and gray roots, but left as a summery blonde, sashaying down the sidewalk and feeling fantastic. Now, though, I have two new enemies: roots and fading.

I was upfront with my stylist, Jeff Grant from the Hollywood, CA, location of Rudy’s Barbershop, about trying to conceal my roots even though I have a beauty budget. Together we strategized how best to stretch out the time between trips to the salon. Here’s what he told me:

Combine your base color with highlights.

If you get a base color and highlights, you might be able to alternate processes with each subsequent trip to the salon. For example, when you go back for a trim, get the roots touched up. Then, re-do the highlights with the next trim. If foils are placed properly, the highlights will grow out in a less noticeable way than a single process color.

Shampoo sparingly.

To minimize fading, shampoo your color treated hair as infrequently as possible. Every few days, rinse your head instead of lathering up — if you can get away with it. When your scalp gets a little greasy, brush through a little dry shampoo, which usually comes in spray or powder form.

Buy specialized shampoo.

When you do shampoo the old-fashioned way, use a product made for color treated hair. Yes, it’s more expensive than regular shampoo, but so is a repeat trip to the colorist. All color-safe shampoos are sulfate-free, which makes them gentler on the hair.

Blondes can avoid brassiness by using the John Frieda Sheer Blonde line, which removes chlorine and oxidized minerals. My stylist recommended Shimmer Lights shampoo from the Clairol Professional line, which is very affordable and sold in beauty supply stores. Its dark purple color neutralizes any yellow tones.

Redheads and brunettes benefit from shampoos that deposit color temporarily. L’Or�al makes a popular line called ARTec.

If you’re worried about unwanted color deposits, or if these products aren’t as moisturizing as you’d like, you can alternate treatments with your favorite shampoo every few days.

Minimize chlorine and sun damage.

After swimming in a pool or salt water, wash your hair as soon as possible so the chlorine and salt don’t leach the color out. But first — as strange as it sounds — my stylist says to spray a little window cleaner on your hair. The ammonia in products like Windex opens the cuticle temporarily, so the nasty chemicals will come out when you shampoo. If I plan to be outside for a long time, especially in the middle of the day, I protect my hair color from the sun with a floppy hat or apply a styling product with at least 10 SPF.

Using these tips, I should be able to look swanky for at least eight weeks before my next color treatment. In the meantime, all other forms of moxie maintenance are up to me.

About the author

Frances Grove

Frances Grove is a freelance writer and script coordinator in Los Angeles. She's written articles for the Los Angeles Downtown News and creative content for HBO, along with a waist high stack of scripts on spec. She's worked in the TV industry for ten years, but her fantasy careers would be to name nail polish colors, grow tomatoes, and do crosswords professionally.

Currently reading: Spoiled by The Fug Girls

Workout m.o.: Brisk walk or hike through Griffith Park, aqua aerobics or a yoga class

Secretly obsessed with: The Stellar's Sea Cow (extinct)

Dream vacation: Italian countryside, rented villa for a month, friends and family visiting in shifts.

Currently listening to: Talking Heads' "Talking Heads:77"

Go-to relaxation technique:Adult beverage + hammock

Personal theme song: "You Just Haven't Earned it Yet Baby" by The Smiths

Must-haves if trapped on a desert island: Tweezers, SPF, light-weight poolside coverup and kicky wedge heels, The Coen Brothers Collection and suitable playing device.