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Cool vs. warm colours: Ash tones create cool colours, red and gold create warm colours, while neutral shades maintain the natural hair tone.
Grey be gone! Choose a permanent colour if you want to cover grey. A neutral shade close to your natural colour will blend greys, while one shade lighter will turn your greys into natural highlights, according to Clairol.
Patch and strand tests: Do the patch and strand tests. Obey the time limits and don't mix the colour until you're ready to apply. "The step-by-step directions are really meant to be followed," says Nicole Dupuis, L'Oréal technical manager.
Regrowth strategy: If you want to touch up regrowth, try Clairol's Nice 'n Easy Root Touch-up Kit. It can be matched with just about any shade, including ones from competing brands.
The light and dark side of things: You'll get the best results at home if you choose a shade or two lighter or darker than your natural shade, advises Selby. If you're not sure, ask the cosmetician to help.
DIY highlights: Highlights can now be foolproof at home, thanks to the latest brush-on techniques. Try L'Oréal's new Hi-Light Styliste, which allows for precise placement of colour.
Must-have products: To get the most mileage out of your colour, don't use deep cleansing or clarifying shampoos. Opt for colour-enhancing products instead-especially if you go red.
Longevity: Hair dyes usually have a shelf life of about three years, if unopened. Anything older than that, you should toss.
Stay away from the brows! Don't dye your eyebrows at home! This should be left to an experienced professional. For home, opt for an eyebrow pencil or powdered eyeshadow instead.
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Types of hair colour on the next page ...
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Permanent, semi-permanent, wash or foiled? Here we break the hair treatment codes so you can get your best look ever!
Gives 100 percent grey coverage. This is a double process colour that first removes the natural pigment of your hair and then deposits the new colour. Lasts four to six weeks before you need a touch-up.
This is temporary colour that penetrates the hair and binds to the surface of the cuticle. Washes out after 10 shampoos.
This is great for blending first greys. It contains peroxide, but no ammonia, so the colour fades over time. Lasts about four weeks before you need a touch-up.
This lightens the natural shade by up to seven levels. It eliminates melanin (the colour-producing pigment) in the hair.
"My hair looks like ...." Our best reader Q&As!
"My hair looks brassy." Use a violet-based shampoo to tone down brassiness.
"The result looks nothing like the colour on the box." Call the toll-free number and ask for advice.
"I coloured my chemically treated hair, and now it's fried." Don't try to fix this yourself. Call a colourist immediately.
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