Stay focused on the goal. You want to enhance the good stuff nature already gave. Consult your stylist about changing your hair color, but seek two or three different professional opinions, because stylists frequently will advise the most expensive color treatment rather than the best.
Never color your hair on an impulse or whim. Every girl knows that nothing makes her feel so wonderfully feminine and flirty as great hair; but you also must remember that nothing makes a girl feel more ridiculous than new hair gone terribly wrong. Use your powers of observation and critical skills, looking at cuts and colors you like on other girls. Study the shapes of their faces and colors of their skin. If theirs resemble yours, their color treatment may work for you. If not, keep searching.
As you compare and contrast the benefits of single-process versus highlights, remember that hair—especially blonde hair—mixes at least five or six different shades. Some single-process treatments look spectacular; others look fake as three-dollar bills. If this is your first experiment with coloring your hair, go with two shades of highlights, and have a professional do it.
Choose the right color.
Your hair color must complement both your skin tone and your eyes. Not every girl can go blonde and make it work; very few girls can go redhead. Many alleged online experts assure, “anyone, everyone can go red.” They are not lying. But you want your new color to max-out your wow factor. Very few girls successfully can go red.
You do enjoy a wealth of options. Beauty supply stores show the whole rainbow of hair colors, and they frequently have color samples so that you do not have to rely just on the package pictures. Hold the samples next to your face and trust your intuition. Not even your very best friend really can advise you on hair color, but your intuition never will lie. If a radical color change will not work, but you still want a bright new color, start with highlights or lowlights. If the multi-tonal scheme works well, you may risk a bigger, more permanent change.
Prepare your hair.
If you have colored your hair with henna, your new color will have to wait. Because henna’s chemical composition conflicts and reacts with chemically based hair colors, you must wait until the henna grows-out. When your hair has grown long enough to consider your new color, get an expert cut, advising the stylist to make sure she trims away all the henna. Similarly, if you have bleached your hair and suffer hair color remorse, wait a couple of weeks before taking your “do-over.” Bleaching shocks your hair, and you need at least two weeks to restore its basic health. While your hair recovers, thoroughly condition it at least every other day.
To get the most from your new tint or hue, get your hair in top condition before you color it. Two or three days before you color it, indulge it with a deep-conditioning treatment. Conditioner will soften your hair and make it shine; it also will protect your hair from chemical damage. Do not wash your hair the day you color it; instead, wash it the day before coloring, and brush it well after washing, preserving its natural oils.
Even if you feel confident because you have done home hair-coloring before, take time to read all the product instructions, and read the product cautions twice. Do not take shortcuts. On the day before the day before you color your hair—in other words, 48 hours—do a skin-allergy test. Especially teen-agers should do the test and pay careful attention to the results, because skin sensitivity changes with body chemistry and new allergies can develop as you mature. Then, do a “strand test” on just a teeny-tiny section of your hair, figuring out how long your color-mix should stay on your hair, and double-checking to make absolutely sure you like the shade.
Care for your colored hair.
Immediately after your coloring, ask your stylist to give your hair a “gloss treatment,” because it will replace the just-colored look with shimmer and shine that make you look as though you were born with that color.
Then, take a major tip from Elle Woods, heroine of Legally Blonde. Every girl knows you absolutely must not get your hair wet for at least 24 hours after you color it, because it takes some time for color fully to permeate each strand. Even more importantly, every girl knows you must not wash your hair for at least 48 hours after coloring; three days gives hair even more time to adjust and recover before your shampoo. After that first shampoo, condition your hair really well, and keep conditioning it regularly to keep your color fresh, natural, soft, and shiny.