How to Keep Your Hair Color Fresh, Despite Distance From Your Colorist

Photo: Stocksy/Susana Ramirez
Like many things I confess on the Internet, this is embarrassing: Once upon a time, I wanted to move to a far-distant land, but I decided against it because—wait for it—I didn't know how I'd do upkeep on my blonde so far away from my stylist. At-home root touchup terrified me. I'm what one might call root-phobic, meaning that, despite my stylist's recommendation that I see her every six to eight weeks, I'm in her chair every three weeks on the dot.

So, as you might imagine, now that I'm socially distancing myself from the outside world, along with a long list of other very serious worries and fears, I'm also now also realizing that I won't be able to touch up my blonde, for well past my usual limits. It's not like I'll be attending the Oscars anytime soon or even seeing another human, but even so, blonde is how I feel my best.

If you, like me, have admitted defeat when it comes to wearing pants, but are not yet ready to give up on your roots, take heart. Below, a rundown of the top tips from pros for keeping your color strong without the help of the person you rely on most in life: your colorist. (Just me?)

How to battle root growth from home when the salon is a no-go

1. Make that pro color stretch

First thing's first when it comes to making your color last, says Jim Markham, CEO and founder of ColorProof Color Care Authority. "We recommend stretching out time between washes," he says. (No problem here, as I can't remember the last time I showered.)

According to colorist and #mydentity creator Guy Tang, one of the best things you can do from there is to use a colored conditioner. "Anyone from brunettes to blondes will experience a tonality shift in their hair over time," Tang says. This happens because our hair (like our skin) is confronted with minerals from hard water and environmental aggressors that latch onto hair and shift the color. "You can utilize a colored conditioner to combat the brass within your hair and highlights to maintain a cooler tone," he says.

You should pay attention to your shampoo as well, advises IGK hair stylist Olivia Casanova. "You can stretch your professional color by using color-safe shampoos or pigmented shampoos that help deposit tones to your hair," she says. Whether it's your shampoo or your conditioner, Lourdes Rodriguez, master colorist at Hawthorne in New York City, offers a simple rule to live by: "Remember, cool tones—purple, blue, and green—neutralize and warm tones enhance," she says.

2. avoid blanket box dyes if you have highlights

While you may be tempted to dump a box of dye on your scalp, there are a few things to consider before you experiment. For starters, if you have highlights, you should not attempt to dye them at home, says Rodriguez. Instead, focus on working on the tone via the cleansing recommendations above.

Others who wish to refresh their color at home—as in, try to full-on dye it—should consult their pro first (if even by video chat), according to Roy Teeluck, founder of Roy Teeluck Salon. He suggests skipping the at-home dye if you can. Rodriguez, however, offers some guidelines for those who can't resist the allure of a drugstore dye. "If you can't wait and want to use box dye, make sure you pick a lighter shade than what you think you are," she says. "If you think you're a dark brown purchase medium brown. Once you go back to your hair colorist, they will be able to blend the color a lot easier if it's lighter versus darker." In terms of brands, Rodriguez likes Garnier Nutrisse ($7), L'Oréal Paris Preference ($7), or Herbatint ($11) for a more natural options. "For those who are looking for something semi-permanent and ammonia-free try Clairol Natural Instincts, ($23)," he says. As another an alternative, you can also use an online service like eSalon or Madison Reed, both of which match your hair to a dye.

3. Utilize root touch-up products

"To address regrowth, go with a temporary fix like a root touch spray or powder," advises Markham. "These products are designed to rinse out and can even be used to extend out beyond the roots for a quick color boost through your mid-lengths."

Teeluck loves the root touch ups from Color Wow. "It's essentially a powder brush-on product that camouflages after each shampoo and can be used on dry hair," he says. "The product works for both brunettes and blondes." When applying the powder, he recommends limiting its use to only the areas where it's needed. "Start off gently so as not to end up having to re-shampoo your hair," Teeluck advises.

Celebrity colorist Rita Hazan, meanwhile, suggests her line's Root Concealer ($25) specifically to cover grey roots. "It stays in your hair until you wash it out and is sweat resistant and transfer-free," Hazan says. "Spray it at an arm's length away in the targeted area to cover grey hair." Other stylist faves: Oribe Airbrush ($24) and L'Oréal Paris Magic Root ($23). These products are applied at only the places where you see grey growth, and wash out almost immediately following.

4. Hide thE growth

Sadly, no amount of powder is going to stand in for a legit color sesh, so if you're still not feeling good about your roots after taking these steps, Casanova recommends playing with style rather than color. "Wearing your hair up in a cute bun or pony conceals your greys/roots best," says Casanova. "Then just finish off with one of the root concealers as mentioned above along your hairline."

Markham, meanwhile, suggests a topknot or braids. "Dutch braids, crown braids, and French braids all are great at blending sections of hair to help hide your line of demarcation," he says. "This is a great time to experiment with hair accessories like headbands or scarves to hide your roots, too." If you have them, he adds that hair extensions can help disguise regrowth when strategically placed, too.

5. don't forget your stylist

Nothing proves how critical our stylists are quite like a crisis which prevents us from seeing them. So, while you scramble to look presentable with root spray and hair ties, don't forget your 'do boo, who likely can't work right now. "We are scrambling for ways to do the right thing whilst wanting to be there for our clients," says Teeluck. "Right now, my stylists and I are taking calls and giving solutions to a lot of the problems our clients are currently facing."

This should go without saying, but if you call your stylist for advice, it makes sense to tip them for their time. "You can also help your stylist right now by buying gift cards to their salon, or pre-paying for your appointments in the future," says Casanova. You can do this not just for yourself but for friends and family, too, says Markham, who additionally recommends one simple action. "Check in with your stylist—they will appreciate your concern and thoughtfulness," he says. "Let them know your loyalty is with them and you look forward to your next visit."

Now is the time for hair masks; here, 7 that will revive dry, depressed strands. Plus, you're not imagining it—the stress is making your hair greasier. (It can also turn your hair grey, BTW.)

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