Are You a Hair Color Virgin?

Not counting a brief incident about 20 years ago with a bottle of at-home color that turned my hair pink, I lived the first 35 years of my life with what I know now is called "virgin hair."
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Not counting a brief incident about 20 years ago with a bottle of at-home color that turned my hair pink, I lived the first 35 years of my life with what I know now is called "virgin hair." I am intimately familiar with my natural hair color, which puts me in the minority. Indeed, according to O Magazine (September 2013 issue), while only 7 percent of American women colored their hair in 1950, more than half of women do so today. And I, at the age of 36, finally no longer have virgin hair.

I decided to try color mostly because of a friend of mine, Michelle, artistic director for color at Avalon Salon and Spa. Over the last five years or so, we have gotten closer, and I have learned to trust her completely; trust her to the point where I finally accepted her offer of coloring my virgin hair. I wanted my first time to be with her. In early January this year, she colored my hair. While I was ready for some color, I wasn't ready for something dramatic and complicated to keep. Rather, I asked her for something subtle and natural, and that would not require maintenance. She did my hair ombre style. It was everything I had hoped for, nothing I had feared, and I can't wait to do it again! Yes, I will go to Dallas just for her. Because of her, I now think of my hair color as important to my hair style in the same way that accessories and jewelry can make or break my outfit.
For those of you out there still rocking your virgin hair, but thinking about hair color, here are Michelle's tips to consider and help you decide what you do and don't want.

Michelle Key (my BFF/ the colorist)

First things to think about

First, consider what you like and don't like about your own hair. That can help guide you to where you want to go. Then, think about what tones of hair color you desire. Do you like warm or cool tones? Do you want to go darker or lighter or both? When I am looking for inspiration on a new hair color, I like to look online at photos of celebrities, magazines, or Pinterest. These sources can help you look at what the trends are in hair. Often, hair color inspiration comes from the fashion world. For instance, the brighter and more vibrant the clothes are, the softer the hair color trends will be. Another key decision, beyond tones and color, is to honestly understand what your level of commitment is: how long will you want to keep my new color, what is your budget, and how often are you willing to have appointments for maintenance. Having a general idea of what your financial and time commitment will be can help the colorist decide what the best strategy is for you. With this information in mind, the next step is to schedule a consultation with a colorist.

The consultation

A good hair colorist considers a few things when deciding the right color for you. Eye color and skin tone play a major part in what tones of hair color will work for you. For instance, women who have a warmer skin complexion should stay away from vibrant red tones, which will make your warm skin look dull. Think of Christina Hendriks: she looks so great as a red head because she has a lighter, cooler skin tone that complements instead of competes with her hair. The season may also influence the colorist's recommendation. In the Spring/Summer, Michelle likes to add a few highlights to warm brunettes, and add extra brightness to blondes. In the Fall/Winter, she likes deeper chocolates and rich reds, as well as a few low lights or a glossing treatment with color to soften blondes. A good colorist will pay attention to what the guest is wearing when they come in for a consultation, to get an idea of who you are. Are you conservative? Do you work in a corporate environment? A re you fun, edgy, and trendy? All of the above? Knowing as much about a guest's overall style and lifestyle is essential to an optimal consultation.

Finally, Michelle's do's and don'ts

1. Change is good. Small changes can make a big difference. You don't have to spend a lot time and money to get beautiful hair color.
2. Change your hair color seasonally. Every time you change your cut, consider how color can complement your cut.
3. Having the same hair color and style from five years ago may not work for your lifestyle and skin tone anymore. Ask for suggestions on how you can freshen things up.
4. Not all trends are right for everyone. Consider the trend, and customize it to what suits you.