Does she or doesn't she?
The catchy old Clairol slogan was a valid question back in the Fifties, when it first appeared. But these days, you hardly have to ask.
So many women color their hair - either at home or in salons, either to change the shade or hide the gray - that the all-natural head of hair may soon be a rarity.
No wonder, then, that salons and stores are awash in products to improve on the process.
DO IT YOURSELF
Lots of people color their own hair and, in this economy, more are joining them every day, if only to extend the time between salon visits.
Even famous stylists like Frédéric Fekkai and Umberto Savone are getting in on the market, with home coloring kits they say translate their salon products for use by just about anyone.
Fekkai's Salon Color, available in 20 shades, comes with a bowl and applicator brush, as well as conditioning treatments to use before and after coloring. It's $30 at select Sephora stores and sephora.com.
Savone's new U Color (pictured), features a one-step sachet packet, comes in 24 shades; $12 at drugstores or go to ucolorbh.com for more info.
KINDER, GENTLER COLOR
Regulars at the hair color game know there's some pain involved.
OK, not serious, get-out-the-Advil pain, but those fumes can get nasty. And after years and years, the process can take a toll on hair.
L'Oréal Professionnel celebrates the 100th anniversary of the invention of modern hair color with a new product that promises a better experience. INOA (Innovation No Ammonia) is being rolled out next month after testing in select salons across the country for the past several months.
"Clients love it," says Anthony DeFranco, whose Huntington Station salon has been testing the product since early this year. They love that there are no fumes and no scalp irritation, he says, but more important, the salon's stylists have found the color to be richer and to last longer.
Beyond that, says DeFranco, INOA works wonders to improve the condition of damaged hair. In fact, he says, "we've found that the more damage, the better it works."
And while the INOA is generally around 20 percent more expensive than traditional hair color ($50 vs. $60 for a single color at DeFranco), you don't need the heavy-duty conditioning treatments that salons often recommend for color-treated hair, notes colorist Joel Warren of the Warren-Tricomi salon in Manhattan.
For info and local salons, go to inoa-us.com.
To anyone who colors to get rid of gray, there is one mortal enemy: Roots.
Despite several misguided attempts to declare roots fashionable, that telltale line of demarcation can kill a hairdo faster than a midafternoon downpour. And since most people don't want to visit the salon every two to three weeks, the industry has come up with some stopgap products that can extend the time between color jobs.
Clairol's Root Touch-Up, around $7 at drugstores, is a good quick fix but still involves fussing with gloves and color in the shower. A quicker option is one of the temporary pens or mascara-like products now on the market, two of which are finalists in this year's CEW Beauty Awards.
TouchBack by ColorMark, pictured at right, is essentially a magic marker for the roots. The color bonds to the hair and dries in about a minute; available in eight colors for $29.95 at Ulta stores or touchbackgray .com. Oscar Blandi's Root Touch-Up and Highlighting Pen, which comes in six colors, also has conditioners; $23 at oscarblandi.com.