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How Do I Extend Life Of My Hair Color During Recession?


Dear Karen,

My job got downsized recently and I am on a much tighter budget.  I'm worried about my hair, especially my color. I really don't want to resort to at-home box colors because I'm not sure how to begin to take on that option.

Unfortunately, I can't afford to go see my professional hair colorist as often as I would like.  However, I feel I need to continue to go to keep my hair looking good as I look for new job opportunities.  Do you have any tips for stretching the life of my hair color?

Thank you.



Dear Marsha,

One of the results of the current economic downturn is the need to stretch the life of hair color treatments as long as possible.  The good news is that there are lots of tips to keep your hair color as fresh as possible for an extended period of time.

Rachel Bilson With Ombre Haircolor Rachel Bilson With Ombre Haircolor

Listed below are some popular options:

1. Consider going Ombré - One of the hottest color trends at the current moment is the Ombre movement. Ombre is the French word for shaded.  Hair is darker on top at the roots and gradually lightens as the color moves down towards the ends.

Although it used to be considered in poor taste to have a lot of root regrowth, now it is all the rage.  Ombre hair can be created by your professional hair colorist and then allowed to grow out naturally over time.

2.  Stay close to your natural color - if you don't want to go with the dramatic Ombre look then stay as close to your natural color as possible.  The closer you stay to your natural color, the less obvious any root regrowth will be.  If root regrowth is more subtle you can afford to extend the time in between hair color visits.

3.  Opt for highlights -  Select highlights which are no more than two shades lighter than your base color.  Since carefully applied highlights have a much softer grow-out look, it will minimize root regrowth.

4.  Play with balayage - Ask your professional hair colorist to experiment with a few balayaged highlights around the hairline.  This will give you a fresh and sun-kissed look without the need for a lot of upkeep.

5.  Cleanse colored hair less often - Some hair color experts suggest waiting 48-72 hours after having hair colored before cleansing.  Color experts believe waiting long enough after coloring before cleansing will help color set and last longer.

6.  Minimize heat exposure - Colored hair will last long when cleansed with TLC.  Stretch time in-between shampoo sessions as much as possible, only cleanse with lukewarm water, and use products designed to extend the life of hair color.  Minimize use of hot tools since the heat can cause color to fade quickly.

7.  Other color care options include only cleansing with diluted shampoo formulas (DS) or Conditioner Only Washes (Co-Wash).  You may also ask your professional hair colorist to suggest products known to be gentle on hair color.

8.  At-Home Color -  Many professional hair colorists are more open to helping their loyal color clients with at-home hair color options for in-between salon visits.

If you explain your financial challenges a good colorist may be willing to point you in the right direction on what color or brands to choose which can help you extend your hair color as long as possible.

While it's true that hair color can instantly take years off your appearance, it's also true that color upkeep can sometimes be costly.  The good news is that there are ways to extend your hair color as long as possible.

Best wishes,

Karen Marie Shelton


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