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Fashionista Beauty Helpline: How Can I Keep My Hair Color Looking Its Best In-Between Appointments?

Some helpful tips from an expert.
at home hair color main

Beauty editors and writers are used to getting late-night (or early-morning, or literally 24-hours-a-day) texts with zero context and burning questions. No, we don't mean of the "U up?" variety. These inquiries are about skin freak-outs, product recommendations and makeup mishaps... and we've seen 'em all. With that in mind, we welcome you to our series, "Fashionista Beauty Helpline," where we address the beauty questions we get asked most frequently — and run them by experts who really know their stuff.

The beauty editor's "U up?"

The beauty editor's "U up?"

Our recurring series "Fashionista Beauty Helpline" first came about a few years ago as a means of directly addressing the beauty questions I encounter most often from friends, family, social media buddies and random, distant acquaintances. I saw it as a way to clear up common beauty- and grooming-related gripes, frustrations and confusions, offering trustworthy and straightforward assistance to anyone who might not have access to an expert on their own. 

Fast forward to 2020, and in a time of coronavirus, social distancing and self-quarantining, it seems more practical than ever. Now I'm using this series to enable all of us to take a little piece of our self-care into our own hands. During this inherently stressful and uncertain time, piling on extra stress and self-imposed pressure about unruly, grown-out brows or rapidly greying roots simply doesn't serve. What does serve, I believe, is arming ourselves with knowledge and skills that will enable us to have a little more autonomy over our beauty routines.

It's ok to take a little time off from the news to pamper, self-soothe and indulge in a bit of escapism. It's also ok to want to find some semblance of normalcy in an abnormal time or a sense of control amid chaos, and it's ok if beauty is your way of finding it. So consider this your guide to how-to-DIY-all-things-beauty-in-the-time-of-coronavirus. If you have specific questions you'd like to see answered here, feel free to drop us a note at with "Fashionista Beauty Helpline" in the subject. We'd love to hear from you! I'll also be using this opportunity to highlight beauty industry professionals whose ability to work has been impacted by the pandemic, and share what we can all be doing to help show them compassion and support.

In our last installment, we focused on eyebrows. Next up? Hair color. To get some expert advice on how to keep inevitably grown-out color in check, I turned to Kathleen Rose, a colorist and stylist in Cleveland, Ohio who specializes in hand-painted (or balayage) color. Read on for her guidance — and step away from the bleach (unless, of course, it's the kind you're using to sanitize your home).

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What advice do you have for clients trying to maintain their hair color on their own right now?

To extend the life of your color, I would recommend going as long as possible between shampooing as you can, and spend extra time with your masks and deep conditioners. We're all spending a lot of time at home right now — why not leave your favorite mask on your hair all day? If you're feeling creative, try a DIY hair mask with pantry items. My favorite combo is banana, olive oil and honey. 

For more substantial results, Olaplex No. 3 can actually repair broken bonds in the hair. I've also been loving Reverie's Milk Nourishing Treatment and Ever Recovery Oil (they smell like heaven) — mix them in with your conditioner and let your hair air dry. Lay off the heat styling and learn your natural texture!

What tips or products do you suggest for touching up roots in-between appointments?

I love R + Co Bright Shadows Root Touch-Up Spray to temporarily disguise gray roots. You can also use this time to experiment with hats and scarves to cover up those roots while you're waiting to return to the salon. I don't recommend coloring your own roots— there are so many things that can go wrong!

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What if someone feels really strongly about trying to touch up their own hair color at home?

I don't recommend this. If you mess it up, it will be awhile before we can help you at the salon, not to mention color corrections cost much more than your normal maintenance appointment. If you attempt at-home color and it comes out uneven — or worse, damages your hair — you've created a very tricky situation for your stylist. Try to remember that we're all in the same boat, and nobody else is getting their hair done right now. 

If you want to gently shift your hair color, try out a color-enhancing shampoo and conditioner line, like the Davines' Alchemic. It will provide a gentle shift in tone without damaging your hair or messing up your color.

at home hair color

What about for clients who have highlights, bleached hair or balayage?

I would never recommend a client taking bleach to their own hair. Lightening the hair involves advanced formulations and techniques, and there is no way to mimic the results you get at the salon at home. Use this time to embrace giving your hair a break from all color and heat-styling. Imagine how healthy your hair is going to feel by the next time you get it done.

What can clients do to support their colorists right now?

If you have any questions for your stylist about products, styling, rescheduling... ask them! We miss you and are always happy to chat hair. You can also ask your stylist if you can purchase a gift card to redeem at your future appointment, or Venmo them a "tip" for your missed appointment. These small gestures are keeping us afloat in this time of uncertainty. Many stylists are still selling product online, too, so when you run out of shampoo, remember to shop small.

Is there anything else you want people to know?

I've always been a huge proponent of lived-in color that works with your root color and grows out seamlessly, requiring very little maintenance. Balayage enhances your natural color, instead of hiding it. While your roots are growing out, consider switching to a more low-maintenance look next time you're in the salon.

Most importantly, take this time to relax, pamper and give yourself permission to enjoy and appreciate your natural beauty. Stay home if you can, stay safe and hopefully we will be back to touching up those roots soon.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

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