Top stylist Christopher Martin gives tips for foolproof home hair colouring

Christopher MartinThe recession has made the highest maintenance ladies reassess their beauty regimes. Suddenly home hair colouring is cool. So if you have been using home hair colour secretly. Or if you have been suffering with lackluster or graying locks because you dreaded salon prices, but were afraid to yourself. Maybe you need you need to trim your budget and cut costly salon bills? Or perhaps you have been guilty of my pet peeve, stretching out your time between appointments and letting your poor hair get root and ratty. There are so many good reasons to try home hair colour now–so don’t miss a word of this interview. Be sure to read all of this issue for our recessionista tips.

Christopher Martin is a top Toronto stylist and colour consultant with Clairol.
DD: How do you choose the right shade of hair colour?
CM: In general woman should stick with something close to their own shade; staying within one or two shades of their current colour. This is a standard hair colour rule that will help reduce undesirable results. If you’re after a more drastic change you really need to consider skin tone and eye colour.
DD: What is the difference between semi-permanent colour and permanent hair colour? Which is better?
CM: Both are great. Demi-permanent and permanent hair colour are great tools, they just serve different needs. Permanent is best for resistant grey hairs or if you have more than 50 per cent greys. If your main objective is to cover only a few greys, use a demi-permanent. Using a demi will alleviate the need to colour as often because there is less noticeable root re-growth. This is also a great option because demis usually contain less or no ammonia. However, new technology found in permanent formulas such as Perfect 10 can be quite mild while still providing great coverage. The colour deposits in P10 are so gentle that it creates a softer lift in the applied colour.
DD:  Some grey is impossible to cover. What is the solution to this problem?
CM: The best first step is to always start colouring where you have the most grey; usually around the hairline and at the hair’s natural part. This will allow the colour to saturate that hair while you apply the colour throughout. With Perfect 10 you might want to leave it on resistant greys for up to 10 minutes longer.

DD: Does colouring damage hair?
CM: Not necessarily. The real damage arises from over-processing. Often women apply full colour too regularly, which can lead to colour overlap. Generally, women should apply colour to their roots and on their ends to refresh their look. You don’t need to apply full colour every time you want to refresh your look, just target your colouring to the needed areas.

DD: Can colouring your hair make it look or feel thicker?
CM: Yes it certainly can! This is especially true when covering greys. By colouring your hair you are actually adding pigment, filling in and fattening up the cuticle of the hair so it appears thicker and feels smoother.

DD: Is there an easy way to get the look of highlights at home?
CM: Clairol Nice ‘n Easy Frost & Tip is a great product to achieve natural-looking highlights. Just pull out a few sections of hair around the hair line to really lift the colour around the face. There’s also Highlights from Nice ‘N Easy that lets you personalize your colour. It comes with a comb for really easy and fool-proof application.
DD: Can you go blond at home? How do you safely do this and how light can you go?
CM: Women can certainly lighten at home, but over time. Even salon colour takes multiple applications to lighten hair drastically. I would suggest lightening the hair by one or two shades every four to six weeks to ensure you don’t end up with unwanted results. Remember, when colouring your hair you must be realistic with the colour expectation. If you’re a dark brunette you can’t expect to go platinum blond overnight.

DD: How often should you and can you colour your hair?
CM: The general rule of thumb is to colour every four to six weeks, but the best route is to just upkeep roots and maybe the tips. Applying full cover is a common mistake made with at-home hair colour, but it’s also something I see coming out of salons!  Women most likely apply full colour, without damaging the hair, on the second or third term of colour application. You would start with the roots; let it sit for a bit and then bring the colour though the entire head of hair. You want to avoid overlapping layers of full colour to avoid the “wig” look for dark hair or the over-processed “fried” look for blondes.
DD:  Is there any way to colour your hair and keep it shiny?
CM: Clairol Nice ‘N Easy ColorSeal Weekly Conditioning Gloss, which can be found in all boxes of Clairol hair colour products, serves as a great conditioning system, but can also be used as a treatment. Every couple of weeks, apply a heavy dose, let it sit for about 10 minutes while applying some heat with your blow-dryer, then wash it out. ColorSeal Weekly Conditioning Gloss locks in the colour, and you won’t believe how healthy- looking and shiny your hair will be!
DD:  Do different hair types — Caucasians, Asians, and Blacks — react differently to hair colour?
CM: The focus should not necessarily be on the ethnicity of the woman colouring her hair, but the processing that has already been done to it. Certain cultures are more likely to use different processes like Henna, chemical straighteners, perms, or previous colour. Previously-treated hair must be highly monitored because the hair cuticles often absorb the colour much faster or the chemicals already in the hair and could react to the elements of the new colour being introduced — so it can be a bit tricky! If you’re dealing with virgin hair, there’s no need to worry! Follow the standard rules and you’ll be fine; stick within one or two shades of your current colour and colour every four to six weeks with a focus on the roots.

DD: What do you do if it you make a mistake colouring you hair? Can you fix it? What should you do?
CM: Hair colour “mistakes” can usually be corrected by adding colour to compensate. For example, if your blonde turns out too “green,” try adding a colour with warmth — something with a red base. If your colour turns out too red, apply a colour with an ash base – this is usually stated right in the name of the product. If you’ve gone too dark and the heavy pigment are weighing down your colour, try using a light golden brown to warm up your hue.