Fight the Fade
The more active you are, the more likely your hair is to lose color. Here's why, says McIvor: The salt in your sweat causes a mild bleaching effect, just as if you'd been swimming or sunning. Every shampoo and blow dry will also cost you color, by opening the hair cuticle and letting pigment escape. What the pros recommend: color-protecting shampoos and conditioners that slow fading by closing the cuticles. "Using these products isn't bulletproof, but it's definitely better than doing nothing," McIvor says. To try: Pantene Pro-V Expressions Daily Color Enhancing Shampoo; Nexxus Color Ensure Replenishing Conditioner & Detangler; Redken Color Extend Highlight Fuel (a deep treatment for highlights or lowlights) or John Frieda Color Hydrate Fade-Defying Moisture Masque; and Trésemmé Color Thrive Color Daily Color Lock In Spray (a protective styling spray).
Add Some Shine
A popular but pricey salon-only service for improving hair texture-usually called a gloss, glaze, or shine treatment-has found its way into drugstores in the form of Clairol Shine Happy. We asked several women to test-drive it, and they all saw an immediate and noticeable improvement. In a second test, GHRI treated natural hair swatches with Shine Happy, and gave other swatches to the Ted Gibson Salon in New York City for a professional treatment. Our findings: The at-home product added shine and smoothness to the swatches in 10 minutes, which is comparable to the professional results. But over our four-week test period, the salon treatment seemed to leave the hair silkier-for about $70 more (price includes the luxury of having someone else do it!).
Hair Dye Safety
If you've heard about the potentially cancer-causing hair dyes that were outlawed in Europe, don't be alarmed. Though 22 chemicals were banned across the pond this month, it does not appear that any of them are actually used in products there-or here. In fact, only one of these chemicals (2,3-Naphthalenediol) is even listed in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's voluntary cosmetics registry.
New! Highlight with Gray
Covering silver or white hair will generally make a person look younger, but here's another take on gray: "Consider using it as a highlight against your original color for a more modern look," says Marcy Cona, Clairol's creative director of color and style in Columbus, Ohio. The easiest way to do it: Use permanent hair color with built-in highlights (see "3 Ways to DIY," previous page), but aim for one shade lighter than your original color. (Going darker can be too severe.) The translucent dye will both disguise grays and use them to your advantage-turning them into shiny, slightly lighter strands that create a highlighted effect. "If you're brunette, this is your chance to be in the blond family without going through a double-process treatment [i.e., dyeing or bleaching and high-lighting]," says Julia Youssef of L'Oréal USA. If you still want more high- or lowlights, you can add them with a separate kit.
Protective products will help color last. Other smart steps: Wear a hat outdoors and a swim cap in the pool.