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13 Secrets Colorists Wouldn’t Dare Tell You for Free

If frequent trips to the salon are a drag, learn the secret of limiting maintenance—along with other insider info colorists don't usually share when you're in the chair.

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via us.davines.com

Try color-preserving shampoo

“The new gentler, color-preserving shampoos on the market (like Davines Alchemic line) are a game changer. You can get an extra few weeks out of your color with them and keep your hair looking fresh with a nice tone. Given the cost of a professional coloring, they’re a wise and inexpensive investment,” says Fae Norris, Los Angeles-based stylist at Rock Paper Salon.

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Be honest about finances

“None of us want to lose clients. If you can’t afford to come in as often, be honest with your stylist about your financial situation. They might offer you a lower price temporarily or suggest a mini service,” says Chris Martin, official Miss America stylist/colorist and owner of Copperhead Salon in Orlando. “I’ve even suggested semi professional color touch-ups out of a box they can do at home and then I do their highlights or lowlights.”

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Lightening your base also warms it up

“If you’ve been highlighting on your natural color and want to go blonder, a colorist may suggest lightening your base. This will make your hair warmer. Colorists tends to leave that part out, and clients end up unhappy with golden or warm tones,” explains Nicole Tresch, colorist at Rita Hazan Salon in New York City. It also shows root regrowth faster, which is another reason to say no to lightening your base.

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iStock/Jacob Wackerhausen

Placement is everything when it comes to highlights

“I think a lot of colorists use the concepts of ‘half head’ highlights or ‘full head’ highlights in order to change prices of appointments,” says Crayton Eisenlohr stylist at the Marie Robinson Salon in New York City. “The reality is that very few clients ever need a ‘full head’ since it loses contrast and dimension by over highlighting.” Only super solid blondes ever need that many foils or that much hair painting, which is known as balayage.

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Go for a gloss

“Using a sheer gloss similar to your shade, or a level darker, on top of grown-out highlights prolongs a visit to the salon for a touch-up and gives you the trendy rooted ombre look,” says Clairol Color Director, James Corbett.

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Lighter, glitzer, magic dust…it’s all bleach

“If you’re going from dark to blonde or getting light highlights, your stylist will be using bleach in your hair. This may be called lighter, glitzer, lifter, gentle lifter, magic dust or whatever,” Martin says. “There are a million names your stylist will use to avoid saying they are using bleach on your hair. This has never made sense to me but it’s true.” By the way, which one is correct—blond or blonde?

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via grayaway.com

Permanent vs. demi permanent

“Doing a permanent color to cover gray can be high maintenance,” Tresch says. “If you don’t have a lot of gray, it’s possible a demi permanent can cover and won’t leave such a huge demarcation line.” And to camouflage grays between salon appointments, try one of many temporary root concealers, including EVERPRO Beauty Gray Away root touch-up magnetic powder or spray.

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Lowlights don’t last

If you want real depth added to your hair, lowlights are an option, but not a permanent one, according to Tresch. If you’re ready for a color change, you might have to think backwards. In other words, “darken your hair with a more permanent color to get the right base so you can highlight it after. ” says Tresch. “Lowlights rinse out in a few shampoos in my opinion, and you’re right back to where you started.”

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Consider DIY color

Those bright fun colors fade fast but the bleached or lightened areas stick around. “It’s not always convenient or affordable to come in every time and get it freshened up,” Martin says, “so I’ve sold the actual tube or bottle of color to clients with a pair of gloves so they can put it in themselves at home. They are always appreciative. I sell it at a retail price and they always come back again.”

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via clairol.com

Try at-home color

Clairol Root Touch-Up is a perfect at-home quick fix product that can cut salon visits in half over the course of a year. Plus, Clairol’s newest app, MyShade, can help shade selection in a pinch,” notes Corbett.

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It’s important to be honest about your medications

“Medications matter—especially thyroid ones. The hair can react by turning green, and foils can heat up in seconds, which destroys the hair,” notes Tresch.

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iStock/Image Source

Try a deep conditioning treatment

For a healthy, shiny mane, opt for a deep conditioning treatment instead of a clear gloss. “If the hair is not healthy and the cuticles aren’t closed, it won’t hold to hair color properly,” Corbett says. “When hair cuticles are closed, the hair is protected and allows light reflection and shine. It’s similar to fabric; if it’s not in good condition, the dye begins to fade.”

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via christophe-robin.com

You might need gloss as frequently as you think

“A lot of clients are under the impression (especially brunettes) that their hair will always be brassy unless they come in for regular glosses. In reality, a lot of brands make incredible color-enhancing conditioners to get you through until your next appointment. Christophe Robin makes an ash brown and a baby blonde one,” notes Eisenlohr.

Lindsay Cohn
Lindsay is an avid traveler and travel writer who has visited 46 countries across six continents. For Reader's Digest, she covers both domestic and international travel, and her byline also appears in Travel + Leisure, InsideHook, Hotels Above Par, Well + Good and PureWow. When she's not writing, you can find her hanging out with her son, doing yoga and adding to her ever-growing list of future adventures.