We all know how frustrating it can be when you're having a bad hair week. You start to really notice that your hair color is looking washed-out, flat, and dull, your ends are see-through, and your hair is completely lifeless. You may even spot a few greys glaring at you. If it's too early for a full-color service or you just can't make the time to book in with your favorite stylist, here are a few healthy alternatives to harsh color treatments and your regular appointments.
Natural color tints, herbal rinses, and stains act as a shields, coating the cuticle of your hair shaft, which in turn soothes and tames unwanted frizz and unruly greys, also adding luster and shine. You can also modify your color hue or tone and neutralize it by going a shade darker, brightening an existing shade, or evening out general oxidization or slight discoloration. You may want to try one of these healthy non-toxic color-enhancing solutions.
1. One of my favorites is EcoColors. It's soy-based, natural, organic and a non-toxic alternative to other do-it-yourself box brands. Packed with antioxidants vitamins C & E and essential oils, and free of gluten, sulfates, parabens, ethanolamine, resorcinol, and propylene glycol, Ecocolor delivers a full palette of color choices and is well suited for all hair types.
Fruit, vegetable, and herb restorative color cocktails are excellent rinses that can be applied once per week to refresh your color.
2. If you want to add sparkle, brightness and shine to your lackluster golden locks, try a simple citrus spritzer made with 2 cups of water to 2T lemon and lime juice. Spray in after shampoo and conditioning weekly as a leave-in before you style for gradual lightening results. For an overall shine and lift try a cocktail of lemon juice, raw honey, olive oil, and water (3 tablespoons lemon juice + 1 tablespoon of raw honey + 1 tablespoon of olive oil to 1 cup of boiling water). After water boils, remove from heat, blend ingredients for one minute. Let it cool for heat sensitive application. On clean damp hair, apply generously to saturate hair, brushing thoroughly for even coverage. If possible sit in the sun for 15 minutes or clip up and cover with a shower cap for an hour. Rinse well, shampoo lightly condition and style as desired.
3. For adding depth and glisten to redheads, try a carrot, beet and ginger mix. Combine ½ a cup of carrot juice plus ½ a cup of beet juice with a teaspoon of grated or powdered ginger, apply carefully to damp clean hair. Wrap up with a dark towel, sit for 10 minutes, then rinse well with cool water followed by a light shampoo.
4. For toning and blending greys, enhancing blacks and warming up chocolates, try a sage and rosemary combination to add shine and bring out natural hues. Boil 2 cups of water, add ½ a cup of dried sage and ½ a cup of rosemary (add a stick of cinnamon for a touch of warmth) and let it simmer for 5 minutes on the lowest heat, then let mixture sit for an hour. Now just strain and apply liquid lightly to dry hair with a spritzer bottle, leave in or fully douse after shampooing hair, let it sit for 5 minutes then rinse well and style as desired.
Tea, coffee and wine hair stains are also gentle ways to add subtle hints of opaque color, depth, highlights, and shine.
5. For blondes, try a chamomile and white vinegar mix for bringing out golden highlights and extra shine. You can literally boil 1 cup of water and steep 2 bags of chamomile for 10 minutes; add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, saturate clean damp hair, then rinse well. A chardonnay rinse will add high shine to highlights, volume, and bounce. Just pour straight from the bottle or use a sprayer to apply after you shampoo, then condition lightly.
6. With a leftover pot of coffee (and the grounds if you don't mind a mess) you can add depth and shine to all dark shades of hair. It's also a nice stain for toning and blending stray greys. Use a spray bottle of brewed coffee, for light coverage, or completely saturate with a coffee and grounds mud mixture. Mush into hair, clip hair up, and secure with a shower cap. Leave on for 15 minutes, rinse well and lightly condition, then style.
7. A nice burgundy wine will notably add a rich ruby hue, body and sheen to medium and dark auburns, browns and blacks. Be careful and wear gloves when applying as this does stain skin. You can mix 1/2 of a cup of your favorite wine adding cocoa powder to make a paste-like texture to help keep the consistency manageable for easier application. Some fearless gals pour it into a spray bottle and spritz away. Rinse well does a light shampoo and conditioning and style as desired.
Many of my clients really like the diversity in these healthier options and suggestions for coloring hair. Some are permanent and require a touch-up every 6-8 weeks and most formulas you can do weekly or bi-monthly to extend a salon visit or enhance and revitalize your existing hair color.
Nicole Cothrun Venables is a Hollywood stylist with two dozen films and television shows to her credit. Her interviews and beauty articles have appeared in Elle, InStyle, Women's World and Los Angeles. For more tricks of the trade, read her blog on Red Room.