How I'll Keep Old Red Tones From Bleeding Through My New Dark Brown Hair Color

Every time I've ever gone from a reddish color to a cooler brown, the warm tones always reappear. But not this time, dammit!

As much as I love the idea of experimenting with my hair color, I don't think it's really my game. I get lazy about upkeep, letting my roots grow out to the point that I can feel the sting of fiercely disapproving stares from babies on the subway. Damn judgey babies.

Right before xoVain launched, I went from my natural dark brown to a deep auburn. A few months later, when I was overdue to get my roots done, I decided to change it a little and get an orangey-caramel highlight up front.

I loved it, but almost immediately, I knew: I'm too low-maintenance for this kinda thing.

I let it go way, way, hway too long, switching up my shampoos and conditioners as I'd receive and test them out for work, allowing the color to fade into something streaky and brassy, and letting my roots become the magnet for those judgmental baby eyes that they were until Friday night.

That's when I visited Justin Jensen at Sally Hershberger Downtown and told him I wanted to literally go back to my roots: a very dark brown, cooler-toned, almost-but-not-quite-black that wouldn't require too much maintenance.

Justin took out his notebook and jotted stuff down, presumably in a secret language known only to colorists. He examined my hair super-thoroughly, peeking under strands, feeling the texture, getting to know it more than any man has gotten to know the rest of me in a very long time.

After mixing, applying, putting me under the weird rotating heater from the future, washing, conditioning and drying, I was left with a super-shiny, borderline-raven color that immediately made me feel sexier, brought out the creaminess of my complexion, and just felt more like, "OK, yes, this is me."

I had a pretty major concern, though: In the past, when I've gone red or auburn and then back to brown, those warm tones inevitably bled through after a little while, even with a really dark brown. I didn't want to let that happen yet again.

Here are the three crucial pieces of advice Justin gave me that you, too, can use if you go from a warm or red shade to a cooler brown.

Make sure your colorist mixes in some green.

Justin explained to me something very similar to what Danielle talked about in her recent hair-color article: because we want to basically cancel out the red tones in my hair, he included green--which falls directly opposite of red on the color wheel--to the color mixture. This helps suppress the warmth, but the green itself is imperceptible in the results.

Wash your hair as infrequently as you can stand.

The first thing Justin asked me when I told him what I wanted to do was, "How often do you wash your hair?" I cringed a little in embarrassment when I told him only once or twice a week, but his response was, "Perfect." God, I love validation.

Although my hair will inevitably warm up a little over time, he told me limited hair-washing is key to keeping the warm tones from peeking through sooner and more obviously.

Color-protecting shampoos aren't BS.

Justin assured me that when a shampoo claims to be color-safe, it's not just marketing hype. These are a non-negotiable part of keeping your hair from reverting back to its warmer state, so when you do wash your hair, use something that clearly states it won't screw up your color.

That said, shampoo doesn't necessarily need to have the words "color-safe" in the title to count as such. Sally Hershberger's own Salon line contains Cleantech Shampoo, for example, which has seven non-sulfate cleansing ingredients that help prevent color wash-out--sulfates do not give a flying fart about your color--and UV protection to slow fading. There's also pearl extract, to keep it all shiny and whatnot.

Justin also said color-depositing shampoos are OK, but check the ingredients: many, especially less-expensive ones, have those merciless sulfates, which totally defeats the purpose.

In addition to doing what I can on my own, I'm going to go right back to Justin for a gloss treatment as soon as I see any signs of fading, which, hopefully, won't be for a while.

Oh, by the way--did you guys know that these exist now?!

They're called TempleClean, and they're little plastic covers for the arms of your glasses so you can keep them on while you're getting your color done. WDITOT, amirite?! And the best part is the animation on their website.

Anyway--have you gone from warm to cool hair color recently? Planning to? Let me know if you take Justin's advice. Also let me know if you feel like babies are judging you.