Expert Tips for Maintaining Your Hair Color Without Breaking the Bank

Rachel Adler

One of the most expensive services in hair maintenance is color — and with the recession, it has become the one that girls seem to put off more and more. We are now rescheduling our two month touch-up until next month (or until our next paycheck) and just dealing with the roots — better yet, we’ve come up with new hairstyles to hide them. To find out ways to save our gorgeous hairstyles without breaking the bank, we spoke with AJ Lordet, one of the top colorists at the exclusive Pierre Michel salon that boasts clients such as Christie Brinkley and Nina Garcia.

SC: How long should a good color job by a stylist last? And how long is too long to go between colorings?

A.J. Lordet: That depends on what type of color. The general rule is: the bigger the difference between your natural hair color and your dyed one, the sooner you need to refresh it. A single-process color (one color all over) should be touched up generally every six weeks, whereas a highlight could last up to three months. For grey hair, four weeks is perfect; for an average highlight, eight weeks is perfect. Anything over 2.5 months on a single-process, and four months on a highlight may not give you your desired result or may wind up costing more to make up for the additional work needed.

SC: Is there any way to touch up roots yourself between salon visits?

AL: Not perfectly, but I highly recommend temporary “crayons” and “hair mascara” to hide roots. Both wash off with shampoo and will not change your natural hue. This guarantees that you won’t mess up your expensive salon treatment. Hair dye touch ups (even ones that say “wash out”) can change your natural color and this can change the outcome of your treatment. Another general rule: if you buy an over-the-counter hair dye that says “washes out,” check to see if you need to mix something together. This is the telltale sign that you are mixing a dye and developer. Any developer will adjust your natural color so stay away if you’re not willing!

If you do wind up touching up between salon visits with hair dye, try these tips from AJ:
1. Part your hair where you normally wear it
2. Put your hair in pig tails (this will protect the ends and keep the hair we don’t want to dye safe)
3. Apply color to hair part and around the face only
4. Rinse while still in pig tails (this will not dye all your hair but will camouflage so no one knows!)

SC: Are certain products really better for color-treated hair?

AL: When it comes to conditioner, not really. Shampoos-definitely! Use a shampoo designed for colored hair because they do not strip out your color. Some other products meant for volume, chlorine, hair loss, dandruff, etc. could have agents in them that pull color faster. If a color-treated line is not available to you, the next best bet is “dry hair” care. This way you know you are adding nutrients rather than taking anything away.

SC: Many women are dying their hair themselves now because of the recession. Do you have any DIY tips?

AL: The best tip is to have a friend or family member help you. Bad color comes partly from the application. Apply dye to the roots leaving the ends color-free. This may be difficult by yourself so that’s where the friend comes in. Leave the dye on the roots for the full processing time. Add water to the rest of the product that is left in the bottle, and only when you’re in the shower or ready to rinse, add the diluted color mixture (shaken– more water than color) to ends for 2-3 minutes.

AJ Lordet is one of the foremost colorists in New York City and specializes in the art of Balayage, a hair painting technique that started in France. She takes an artistic approach to highlights through this unique hair technique, piece by piece, creating the perfect, personalized tresses to fit each client’s needs. With an innate understanding of how color can affect mood and demeanor, and how a great colorist can transform a client, AJ loves to style the hair based on the personality of her subject. Celebrity clients include blondes like Christie Brinkley and brunettes like
Project Runway‘s Nina Garcia.

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