There’s nothing like a great dye job to turn back the clock. Hair colour not only covers grey but also boosts volume and shine, makes fine lines less noticeable, and brightens a dull complexion.
That is, unless you’re still colouring the same way you did in your 30s.
“What worked then might be aging you now,” says colourist Kim Vo of the Mirage Las Vegas.
To the rescue: the new rules for do-it-yourself dyeing that can make you look and feel a decade younger (no salon required!).
CHOOSE AN AGE-DEFYING SHADE
Extremely light or dark hair looks harsh against mature skin. For the most youthful effect, lighten hair about two shades from your current natural colour (for instance, from medium brown to light brown or dark blonde; dark blonde to medium or light blonde), while selecting a cool or warm undertone that complements your skin.
“Going lighter softens your face, so fine lines and age spots look less noticeable,” says Gary Howse, creative director of Seattle’s Gary Manuel Salon. Besides being more flattering, it also minimises the possibility of mistakes and avoids noticeable roots.
The vibrancy of youthful hair comes from the subtle contrast of colour – a mix of highlights and lowlights against your base colour.
“Nothing is more aging and looks more unnatural than hair that’s flat and all one colour,” says Brad Johns, Clairol’s global colour director.
Here are two easy ways to re-create this radiant effect:
Use a multi-tonal dye Both semi and permanent formulas of this type feature a combination of dye molecules that mimics the nuances of younger hair – dark strands will be deepened and greys washed into lighter glints.
You can tell when a dye delivers multi-dimensional colour if the product name contains words such as shimmering, blended, or tone-on-tone.
To hide a smattering of silver, choose a semi-permanent dye; if you’re more than 40% grey, opt for a permanent colour.
Add highlights If you want more visible contrast than a multi-tonal dye delivers, frame your face with a few strategically placed highlights.
Bonus: These winning streaks make eyes look brighter and give skin a healthy glow.
“Go two to three shades lighter than the rest of your hair,” says Mary Button, a colourist at Philadelphia’s Adolf Biecker Salon.
Opt for a warm shade to compensate for skin sallowness – look for words such as golden, honey, or amber in the product’s name. Stick with hues that are closer to your hair colour; for example, brunettes use light brown, not blonde, and redheads use copper.
Remember, less is more: Aim for about 10 quarter-inch streaks on each side, beginning about 1/8 inch back from your face and spaced 1/2 inch apart until just past your ears.
Perfect your technique by “sketching” your pattern beforehand with conditioner, which has a similar consistency to hair colour.
APPLY LIKE A PRO
For foolproof home colouring that delivers salon-worthy results, try these tips:
Concentrate on your roots When we’re younger, our hair is naturally lightest at the ends. To re-create this effect, apply dye to your roots, but not your ends (as some kits instruct) – they soak up colour the fastest because they’re so porous.
During the last three minutes of processing, splash water onto the crown of your head and then comb the colour through from top to bottom.
“That shot of water dilutes the dye, creating a more natural-looking hue,” says James Corbett, owner of James Corbett Studio in New York City. Rinse hair until water runs clear. Then apply the kit’s conditioning treatment, and rinse well. Wait at least 24 hours before shampooing.
Employ heat Because heat opens hair’s cuticle, warming an old towel in the dryer and wrapping it around your head after applying the dye allows the formula to soak into gray’s more stubborn hair shaft.
Try a gloss There’s now a host of at-home glosses (once only available at salons), including tinted formulas that help intensify a fading shade. “They contain silicones that coat and smooth the cuticle, allowing light to reflect evenly,” says Vo. Use monthly to maintain shine and vibrancy.
SALON-WORTHY COLOUR AT HOME:
The silicone in Fekkai Salon Glaze makes hair gleam.
Ammonia-free Revlon Frost & Glow Highlighting Kit allows you to create subtle or dramatic streaks with less damage.
With specially formulated dyes, UV filters, and conditioners, L’Oreal Paris Superior Preference Dream Blonde Complete colour & Care System neutralizes harsh hues to keep blondes bright.
FOR EXTRA DIMENSION
Available in six permanent shades, Garnier colour Breaks can be used immediately postcolouring to add lighter or darker tones.
FOR QUICK RESULTS
A fast-acting lightener in Clairol Perfect 10 by Nice ‘N Easy delivers permanent colour in 10 minutes – reducing hair’s exposure time to harsh chemicals by 50%.
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