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I Want to Go Blond
Total time: 5 minutes, with 1 minute of wait time
I told Garnier's consultant that wanted to be a lighter, brighter blonde. She immediately suggested a medium-blond shade (Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Creme in Vanilla Malt) to cover my highlights and a light blond (Ginger Ale) for all-over brightening, which she said would look sunny without being brassy. After I pressed for application tips -- and mentioned that I have long hair -- she recommended that I buy three boxes in total to guarantee thorough saturation. She also warned me that after applying the dye I shouldn't pile my hair on top of my head like the model on the box, but let it fall down my back. Otherwise I'd have spotty, overcooked roots.
I Want to Go Red
Total time: 15 minutes, with 5 minutes on hold
After she asked for my current hair-color stats, the consultant warned me that it would be complicated and time-consuming for me to get rich, natural-looking red color out of a box. Despite her hesitation, she revealed a detailed formula for the first part of this two-step process. It involved mixing three boxes of Clairol Nice 'n Easy with Color-Blend Technology (two boxes of Natural Reddish Blonde and one box of Natural Dark Neutral Blonde) and exactly two ounces of shampoo, which would "fill in" my blond highlights. I would have to call back in three weeks, when my hair would be light reddish brown, for advice part two.
I Want to Go Brown
Total time: 10 minutes, no wait
After I clicked Haircolor on the menu bar, I chose the Find My Shade option. This launched an in-depth quiz that asked for my "dream color," helped me determine my natural shade (no small feat after coloring for eight years!), and asked about the condition of my hair and its thickness. The final verdict? My hair's warm tones made it impossible to get the cool, light-brown color I'd hoped for without heading to a salon. Instead, the site suggested that I try a neutral blend of both cool and warm tones. Once I chose my color -- Excellence Creme in 6 Light Brown -- I could print the recommendation to take to the store.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, February 2009.