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Times are changing. Since most of us see our hair color as one of our most valuable beauty assets, the makers of at-home color kits have been working overtime to put the best of salon know-how and products into consumers' hands to deliver more beautiful, yet easier, options to help you get the look you crave. Today you can get the sophisticated look of salon treatments at home. Here, a goof-proof guide.
Honey Hues Sheryl Crow has it, as does Jennifer Lopez. The "it" in question is the honey-blond shade featured here. "This golden shade tends to be the best option for women with medium to dark hair," says Gary Howse, cofounder and creative director of the Gary Manuel Salon, in Seattle. "The natural color is lightened a bit and then different shades of blond and gold are woven through it."
How to get this color at home: The L'Oreal Couleur Experte kit in Ginger Twist, a light, golden-copper brown, is perfect for giving medium-brown hair this multidimensional kick.
Brown Bombshell Brunettes are suddenly hot -- just look at Mandy Moore and Jennifer Connelly -- and that's very good news for the 64 percent of American women who have brown hair. "Using copper and chestnut tones on brown hair makes it look really rich and shiny," says colorist Nelson Chan, of the Estetica Salon, in Beverly Hills, California. He adds that strategically placed lowlights (swatches of darker color) give brunettes an even richer finish.
How to get this color at home: Luxurious, glorious -- brown hair has never had it so good. Try Clairol's Nice 'n Easy permanent haircolor in Natural Medium Caramel Brown, a new shade with subtle touches of red.
Going Gray Gracefully When coloring gray, keep in mind that your result will depend on just how gray you are. If you're just starting to go gray, then a highlighting kit will work pretty much the same as it does on someone with no gray hair. If more than 25 percent of your hair is gray, however, then you must first color and then follow up with highlights.
How to get this color at home: For the most natural result, Jane Anders, associate director of research and development at Clairol, recommends that you choose a neutral or ash shade, as gray hair tends to go overly red when a warm-toned shade is used. Also, start with clean hair and leave the solution in for 45 minutes instead of the suggested half hour. (With Revlon's new High Dimension permanent haircolor, however, you can get full coverage in 10 minutes flat.) Finally, forget everything you've heard about going lighter as you age. In fact, too-light hair can actually make you look older, says Kim Vo, head colorist and co-owner of the B2V Salon, in West Hollywood, California. Over time, skin loses its rosy glow, and when combined with overly light hair, the effect is more dull than dynamic. Need further proof that dark hair can ooze youth? Think of Demi Moore, with her lustrous brown mane.
Blond Ambitions The appeal of the blond will always be with us; nearly 70 percent of all newscasters and Miss Americas are blond -- to say nothing of America's sweethearts and moms-to-be Reese Witherspoon and Kate Hudson. But proceed with caution: Blond hair, if colored incorrectly -- or if you're naturally very dark -- can make your complexion dull. "I've seen clients who've gone Pamela Anderson blond, and they look completely washed out," says Kim Vo of B2V Salon. Trends in blond hair swing from platinum ("Party Girl-Blond" is how Vo describes it) to dirty blond, but at the moment, it's hovering somewhere in the middle. "Dimensional blond -- that's what's in," reports Vo, "meaning that there should be a real depth to the color -- light brown hair with dark blond pieces on top. Some brighter pieces can be placed in front."
How to get this color at home: Natural-looking streaks are what make this fair shade pop. From Herbal Essences, try HighLights highlighting kit in Golden Blond.