That is, unless your colorist "breaks the base."
Breaking the base (also known as smudging) is a technique that colorists such as celebrity hairstylist Garrett Markenson use on clients who don't have time for frequent appointments, but still need their hair to look good all the time — like actresses on set. "Basically, the technique involves formulating the color wrong and then under-processing the hair," he says.
It sounds questionable, but it's actually brilliant. Instead of formulating the dye in the typical one-to-one peroxide-to-color ratio, Markenson mixes two parts peroxide with one part of the most extreme hue of the color the client wants. So, if he's dyeing blonde hair, he'll mix the peroxide with the blondest shade possible, and then leave it on wet hair for only five to 10 minutes. This process (which Markenson says breaks all the standard rules of hair coloring) creates a translucent color that in turn creates a blurred effect between one's base color and the hair dye. "It gets rid of any harsh lines of demarcation," he says, "So that as your hair grows out, the colors just blend softly together."
Because the formula is applied to wet hair for such a short period of time, it's actually less damaging to your locks than getting a new set of highlights done. It's also cheaper: Markenson says that you can break your base twice before having to get your full color redone. "I really believe that what's happened to the economy has taught us to allow our hair to be more lived in," he says. "It taught us that we don't have to go to the salon all the time, because lived-in color is cool — as long as it has a purpose and a style."
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