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“Red fades faster than any other hair color, so a good colorist will apply three separate formulas (to the roots, mid-length and ends) to create dimension rather than one flat hue,” explains Ionato. Fair complexions look best with an Amy Adams copper, while olive-skinned gals should mimic Debra Messing’s mahogany hue. Oh, and look to Davines shampoo and conditioner ($25) to keep your red vivid for at least six weeks.
If you want to go platinum--as blond as chemically possible--be prepared for multiple visits to the salon in one week. “Heavy bleaching weakens the hair, so I always tell clients to chuck their flatirons and cancel their Drybar memberships afterward,” says Ionato. When it comes to sudsing up at home, Olaplex (from $29), an additive that re-bonds strands, is the holy grail of platinum maintenance. “It’s not a conditioner, so it doesn’t cause protein buildup, which can snap bleached hair.”
Photo: Into the Gloss
The secret to Leto-worthy ombré is subtlety. Ionato uses dyes that are just a shade or two lighter than clients’ natural hair color, then delicately applies highlights with a paintbrush so that strands grow out without the aid of touch-ups. (“I’ve done a good job if my client goes several months between appointments,” she says.) As for maintenance, hit up the drugstore. “It’s so old-school, but Clairol Professional Shimmer Lights Shampoo in Blonde & Silver ($13) is truly the best product out there for ombré hair.”
According to Ionato, the best shade of brown is your natural color kicked up a notch. “If your hair is prone to frizzing, going just a shade or two darker can be almost as good as finding a new anti-frizz product,” says Ionato. She typically takes brunette clients just slightly lighter or darker than their natural color, with a few highlights around the face and lots of gloss for extended shine. Keep that rich, chocolaty color going with a good UV-ray protector, like Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil ($28).
Warmth is crucial for believable gray, so Ionato uses an array of ash and neutral tones instead of traditional black and white. The first thing a good colorist should address with a salt-and-pepper client is her lifestyle. For swimmers, Ionato will remove reds to prevent fading. For frequent travelers, she’ll weave out a section of natural gray hair to diminish outgrowth. At home, follow up with Klorane Shampoo with Centaury ($15): The violet-tinged formula neutralizes naturally occurring yellow tones, which make gray look brassy.
We all know that a great hair color makes you look (and feel) like a better version of yourself, but how can you tell if that uber-white blond will be flattering before you hit the bleach?
To navigate the minefield of dyes, foils and purple shampoo, we?ve enlisted the help of Dana Ionato, a lead colorist at NYC?s Sally Hershberger Downtown. You know, where Chelsea Handler goes.
Inspired by the unfussy hair of 1960s French actresses--picture Brigitte Bardot in A Very Private Affair--Ionato takes a less-is-more approach to color. She's so good that she?s been applying beachy highlights to her famous boss?s strands for years. And lucky for us, she?s breaking down her pro tricks for us mere mortals.
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