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Hair to Dye For

Color yourself beautiful with these expert secrets, product picks, and at-home application tricks.

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Jana Cruder
Jana Cruder
Ericka McConnell
Jana Cruder
Lynda Churilla
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Sarah Kehoe
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Find Your Perfect Hair Color

In the market for a serious transformation? Change your hair color. You'll feel as good as you look: Sixty-nine percent of women are more confident after a dye job, a Wella Professionals study revealed. But finding the right product and hue to take you from so-so to smokin' can be challenging without a hair-color consultation, and 42 percent of women have never had one. We asked pros for the scoop on the best home color for you and smart tips for maintaining your new shade.

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For Color That Lasts for Months

Choose permanent color. You can go darker or lighter and cover gray, but try not to stray too far from your natural shade. "You don't want to get stuck with a dramatic change that you dislike," explains Michael Canale, a colorist and salon owner in Los Angeles.

Try Avon Advance Techniques Professional Hair Color ($8, avon.com)

Make It Last

Permanent color can change over time. "Use shampoos and conditioners designed to offset brassiness," says Marie Robinson, the owner of an eponymous salon in New York City. Look for green or blue pigments in the ingredients list: We like Pantene Pro-V Brunette Expressions Shampoo ($5, drugstores).

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For Shine Without Color

Grab a glaze that heightens sheen but doesn't alter or add color. To aid absorption and boost the effects, wrap a warm towel around your strands for 20 to 30 minutes before rinsing, suggests Mike Petrizzi, a colorist for De Berardinis Salon in New York City.

Try Rita Hazan Foaming Gloss in Ultimate Shine ($26, Sephora stores)

Make It Last

End every shower with a cold rinse. "This makes the cuticle layer lie flat, so hair is more reflective," Petrizzi says. "And skip one shampoo a week to preserve luster."

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For Easy Application

The latest technology, foam color, is "a mousselike product that stays put where you apply it," Canale says. "Foam is great for someone who's coloring her hair for the first time and wants to avoid dripping or making a mess."

Try Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Foam ($9, drugstores)

Make It Last

Stick with either color-safe or color-preserving shampoos and conditioners, like Bumble and Bumble Color Minded Sulfate-Free Shampoo ($29) and Conditioner ($32, Sephora stores), that are free of hue-stripping sulfates. To prevent fading, Robinson recommends that you wash hair with warm water rather than hot, which can strip and damage color-treated strands.

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To Camouflage Roots

Get a root cover-up kit but go a shade lighter than you think you should, Petrizzi says. Always comb the color slightly beyond your roots so that there's a smooth shade transition.

Try Revlon Root Erase by ColorSilk ($4, drugstores)

Make It Last

If you've got some regrowth before you're ready for another coloring session, conceal it by zigzagging your part. Also, don't let styling products accumulate on your hair: The buildup makes roots more obvious. Once- or twice-weekly sessions with a clarifying wash made especially for color-treated hair, such as ColorProof Clear It Up Detox Shampoo ($30, colorproof.com for salons), should help.

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For No More Grays

Opt for permanent color, which lasts until your hair grows out. Choose two hues a shade or so apart within the same color family. "To prevent obvious roots, use the lighter one around your hairline and the darker one everywhere else," Canale says. Look for "natural" or "soft" under the shade name or "risk your grays picking up a vibrant, almost neon hue," Petrizzi says. If your hair is already dyed and you want to cover gray growth, apply the lighter color only on roots.

Try L'Oréal Paris Excellence Crème ($9, drugstores)

Make It Last

Conceal rogue white strands with mascara-esque wands that deposit temporary color, such as No Gray Quick Fix Instant Touch-Up ($6, drugstores). If your hair is dark, use your regular mascara in a pinch.

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For Perfect Highlights

Start with a store-bought highlighting kit but improvise with precision tools that you won't find in the box. "Use a tiny paintbrush, a cotton swab, or a toothpick to paint in the highlights," Canale says. "The more precise the application is, the more natural-looking the results will be." Start with a few highlights around your hairline and part and never go more than two shades lighter than your natural color, Petrizzi advises.

Try Clairol Nice 'n Easy Hairpainting ($11, drugstores)

Make It Last

Pick shampoos and conditioners, such as Redken Blonde Glam Shampoo ($15) and Conditioner ($16, redken.com for salons), that boost shine and prevent any yellowing of your highlights.

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Discover Your Best Hair Color

Rita Hazan, the owner of an eponymous salon in New York City, helps you choose shades that complement your skin and eyes.

If you have...

Fair skin + dark eyes: Try a golden blond or brown. The rich­ness of gold tones brings out dark eyes' sparkle.

Medium skin + light eyes: Dark blond to honey brown will warm up your skin and make your eyes pop.

Medium skin + dark eyes: Chocolate, caramel, and auburn will keep your complexion from appearing washed out.

Dark skin + dark eyes: Your skin looks vibrant against espresso or cocoa hues with highlights in the same family.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2012.

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