The first time I colored my hair was in the 6th grade. It was a dark maroon single-process done by my mom's hairdresser that covered my natural highlights and gave the nuns at my Catholic middle school a proverbial heart attack. It was everything I wanted — including the pissing off of the nuns — and I haven't seen my natural hair color since.
Through the years, I've been every shade in the book and have learned a lot of valuable lessons about dyeing your hair along the way: 1. It takes years to remove black dye, so make sure it's what you really want. 2. Don't give a colorist who damages your hair a second chance or they'll just make it worse. 3. When you find products that keep your hair looking and feeling healthy, buy them in twos.
I experienced that last lesson after L.A. hairstylist Sal Salcedo turned me onto Inphenom — a hair mask that I keep on a steady rotation in my shower. The Japanese treatment line is specifically made for colored and bleached strands and, in just one year, it's totally transformed my hair from chronically dry to healthy and soft. It never makes my blonde hair look drab or brassy, and it's on the more affordable side of the treatment spectrum. Since the ingredient list on the packaging is written in Japanese, I reached out to the company to find out how the hell it works its magic.
"By reinforcing hair’s water/color pathway, called the CMC (cell membrane complex), this collection boosts hair’s power to retain moisture inside the hair, ensuring improved hydration and color vibrancy," a rep for the brand told me. In other words, it's basically like hyaluronic acid for your hair. On top of that, there's jojoba esters, rosehip oil, and a blend of 11 amino acids, all of which replenish moisture and hydration without weighing hair down, the brand adds.
The treatment is light enough to be used after every shampoo — even on those with fine hair. I find that a quarter-size amount goes a long way, meaning the 8.8 oz. tub will last you months. Both the shampoo and treatment have a light, fresh scent that lingers on the hair long after it's blown dry.
Now here comes the bad news: Like all good things, it's hard to get ahold of because it's only available at salons that sell Milbon, the parent company. In L.A., that means Nova Arts, while in New York you can find it at Salon Benjamin. But if you're outside of these cities, you can find a salon using the site's location page, below. Yes, it's hard to track down, but don't say I never told ya to order two...
Milbon Inphenom Shampoo, $30.00, and Inphenom Treatment, $40, available only at Milbon Partner Salons.