The Smart Phone Of At-Home Hair Color Is Here

l'oreal embed 1Photo: Courtesy of L'Oréal Paris.
At-home hair dye always seems like a fine idea until you find yourself trying to mix several different foul-smelling chemicals in the right ratio while unfolding a manual the size of a roadmap for planet Earth. But, though it may be less than ideal, for many women, an expensive hours-long trip to the salon isn't an option.
Well, that nightmare is about to be a thing of the past. L'Oréal Paris has just launched a product that's going to revolutionize the at-home color process in a serious way. Enter Superior Preference Mousse Absolue. No more mess, no more mixing, no more having to throw out the unused portion of the bottle. It's an automatic, reusable DIY hair color product, and it basically allows you to do everything on your own.
It's something that's been in the works for over a decade, according to Luc Maelstaf, packaging designer for L'Oréal Paris. "Everybody always dreams of a product where you push a button and a machine does the work for you," he says. "This device does just that: It makes the hair color mix without the consumer even noticing that it's happening."
Maelstaf says that L'Oréal Paris used Japanese technology to develop the packaging of the product, which is what makes the automatic, reusable qualities possible. Two separate aerosol cans are held together in a sleek plastic sleeve. One can contains the colorant; the other, the oxidant. "The reaction to create hair color only happens when you have a mix of those two things," says Sophie Bodelin, the head of hair color labs for the France headquarters of L'Oréal Paris. "But now you don't have to mix it yourself. The mix is complete as soon as the product comes out of the bottle."
The dye comes out as a mousse, ready to go. It's literally a two-step process: Push the button so the formula comes out, and then leave it on your hair for 30 minutes. Done and done. Plus, the aerosol cans prevent air from getting into the product, which means you can use just as much as you need and save the rest for up to a year.
Much like a smart phone, this innovation appeals to a cultural climate that expects high-tech products to be user-friendly. It's also in line with the DIY feel of beauty these days. With just a shake of the can, a woman can easily change her own hair color, not unlike painting her nails.
l'oreal embed 2Photo: Courtesy of L'Oréal Paris.
"It's like having a small chemist helping you mix the product," says Bodelin. "We think dyeing your hair at home should be part of a beauty routine, not an overwhelming, messy project." Maelstaf agrees: "Without this innovation, dyeing hair at home is stressful. This is something completely different."
The formula of the dye is the exact same formula in the brand's beloved Preference line. It comes in 16 different shades and is designed to allow you to lift or darken your natural color up to two shades. Plus, since the can is reusable, it's perfect for touching up roots and stray grays at home between visits to the salon.
Christophe Robin, hair color expert with L'Oréal Paris, says the decision to keep the range of colors small is in line with the desire to create a classic collection. "We wanted to make beautiful basics," he says. "I wanted to build something that would last a long time, like Preference itself."
Since the solid shades that the mousse comes in only give you a two-shade difference, Robin says it's not ideal for trying to create highlights at home, nor is it the thing to use for a major hair change. But, this two-shade only aspect might help prevent hair disasters — it's not going to dye black hair platinum, but you don't really want to try to do that at home, anyway. However, if you're looking for a subtle way to experiment with ombré, the mousse might just be the ticket. And, to brighten up any look, Robin recommends brushing a small amount of one of the lighter colors through the sides of your hair and a little bit on the top of your head, creating a sun-kissed effect.
We're really wishing this foolproof situation had been available when we went through our own hair-color adventure phase, which usually resulted in tears and broken hair. And, while we might not be ready to fully convert to the at-home hair-color lifestyle (we've developed such deep relationships with our colorists), it's safe to say that our days of pesky dark roots are over, for good.
L'Oréal Paris Mousse Absolue, $14.99, available at L'Oréal.

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