Kim Vo on How to Maintain Color in Long Hair

Celebrity colorist Kim Vo

From American Salon's May "Kim Vo on the Go" column:

Celebrity colorist Kim Vo

Celebrity colorist Kim Vo

We’re seeing a lot more long hair these days—a common solution as the weather warms up and clients clamor for greater flexibility in the face of the season’s outdoor lifestyles. If your clients opt to grow their hair, your task is to maintain the color as the hair gets longer and to make sure expectations are realistic.

The shorter the hair, the brighter the tips should be. With long hair, the opposite is true. The focus shifts as the hair grows, so the solution is to replace the lighter ends with several shades of highlights and lowlights applied from roots to ends. Strategically placed foils on the top and around the face will render a beautiful halo effect, balanced by just a few foils underneath.

When dealing with your clients’ expectations for long hair, it’s important to be realistic. How long a person’s hair can grow hinges on several factors, including rate of growth (on average, a ½ inch per month), replacement growth (usually every three to five years) and texture (the finer the hair, the less likely it will be able to grow long). So if your client’s hair grows at a rate of a ½ inch a month and replaces itself every three years, the longest her hair can get is 18 inches. Additional factors, such as increasing age, can slow hair growth and alter its texture.

Remember that with hair that’s been repeatedly colored over the years, the ends begin to disintegrate, meaning longer hair needs regular treatments for healthy-looking shine. The good news is that there are a multitude of products that can help you achieve the desired effect. Thermal-guard sprays used before blow-drying cut down on negative heat effects. Many shampoos and conditioners contain ingredients like ME-10, which makes the hair dry up to 75 percent faster to ease blow-drying damage. Ionic hair dryers also do their part to preserve the hair, and longer locks can get a dramatic face-lift from thermal reconstructors. With a little effort, long hair can look its majestic best.

E-mail Kim Vo at [email protected].