The holiday rush is on. In a spirited season packed with parties, holiday dinners and non-stop shopping, there’s barely time to breathe!

Hue habit #1: Be willing to part with your part

Skip that straight, defined part that exposes color-jarring roots.

“Don’t make a line down the middle. Instead try a zig-zag part off to the side,” says Mia Fanali of D Sabrina Salon in Westport, Conn.

“Curlies have the advantage with this because they can just let the curls fall where they want to and it will look good,” adds Ethan Shaw, of Anne Kelso Salon in Austin, Texas.

You can also disguise the demarcation of color at the roots with a few strategic snips, according to Christo, Global Artistic Director of New York’s Christo Fifth Avenue Salon. “If you always pull your hair back, then maybe get your hair cut with bangs swept to the side and leave your hair down so you don’t see your hairline,” he says.

Hue habit #2: Invest in the right products

The actual cut and color is only the part of your investment in your curly locks, say stylists. To maintain vibrancy, always use products designed for color-treated hair.

“You have to invest in a very good color shampoo and conditioner,” says Christo, who offers a product line.

Stanley of New York’s Christopher Stanley Salon also suggests using a color-depositing shampoo and conditioner that is under the same line as your hair color.

“You really want to stay within the color company you’re using,” he says. “It will help you get more longevity from your color.”

Yet, the most important step in keeping color intact is to avoid stripping it out in the first place. “Shampoo your hair as little as possible,” says Shaw, who suggests the ARTec line of color-depositing shampoos.

“The one thing that I have regularly seen destroy more color is sulfate-based shampoos,” adds Amie Zimmerman of Dirty Little Secret Salon & Spa in Portland, Ore. She recommends sulfate-free product lines MOP (Modern Organic Products”> and DevaCurl, which also offers color-enhancing cleansers and conditioners.

And when you’re in the shower, avoid rinsing your hair with hot water — it will only make your color fade faster, according to Fanali of D Sabrina Salon. “Also, wait at least 10 days after your color before using any deep conditioning treatment because that will pull color out of the hair,” she says.

Hue habit #3: Remember your lifestyle

Too busy? Can’t muster the energy for constant maintenance? Shaw then advises curlies to avoid constantly changing their color. “It damages the hair, and color will fade faster,” he says. “If you’re just trying to make your color more interesting, think about trying highlights or low-lights instead of an all-over color. Less color means less of an obvious line of demarcation.”

“If you go from one extreme to another you’ll definitely need a lot of maintenance,” adds Christo. “Try a color that is no more than two to three shades from your natural color. You have to make a smart choice.”

When it comes to highlights, the choices you make before you start can be even more important than what you do afterward, according to Zimmerman.

“If you get a bad highlight, you’re done!” warns Zimmerman. “If it’s too chunky, it will show up like a stripe when it grows out. So, if you can’t come in every six to seven weeks to get those huge blonde chunks at your part line or hairline, then don’t choose them.”

Hue habit #4: Only do it yourself, with guidance

If your holiday shopping dollars are running out and you can’t afford a trip to the colorist, ask for help and do your homework before attempting to go it alone.

Stanle will sometimes instruct clients on what to do with at-home color, if they plan on doing it themselves anyway. “I’d much rather have someone coloring their hair correctly, than have them end up with something they can’t stand,” he says.

Recognizing that many women are frustrated by the at-home coloring process, Devachan Salon co-owner Dennis DaSilva also recently launched HC Color Fantasies, a home-highlighting system that features a unique application tool resembling a clamp. It’s designed with space to insert color and precisely apply it to sections of hair. An instructional DVD is included to ensure curlies don’t devastate their ‘do.

Hue habit #5: Don’t push the process!

Be careful not to sacrifice your textured tresses just to try a hot new color, Stanley warns.

“With curly hair, you have to be really careful to not do too many processes or it’s going to be frizzed out beyond belief,” he says. “You can have the prettiest color in the world, but your hair could look like hay.”

If you don’t know what your colorist is doing, ask questions.

“When you buy a car you ask questions,” Stanley says. “You don’t just say, ‘Okay, I’ll take it!’ So, don’t go in blindly and have someone slap color on your hair and call it a day. Some questions could be, ‘If I do a single-process and highlights, how many times do I have to come in for the highlights? Or, why do you recommend this over that?’ ”

Experts say paying attention to those answers — then developing color-saving habits that match the demands of your lifestyle — can make all the difference in finding the right hue, and making it last!

Gray, Be Gone!

Sparse gray hairs are easy to pluck. But when your percentage of gray rises to the double digits, so do your visits to the salon.

However, hiding those ever-increasing silvery strands doesn’t have to drain your time or wallet. Here, curl-centric stylists share their expert tricks to keep your gray undercover.

If you’ve always turned to traditional highlights, try mixing it up. Highlights in multiple shades (not too far from your natural hue”> will offer a blend that makes gray less glaring, says Mia Fanali of D. Sabrina Salon in Westport, Conn. “Highlights and low-lights will last longer than a one-step color,” she says.

Christo, Global Artistic Director of New York’s Christo Fifth Avenue Salon, creates “smart” highlights, also in varying shades, to “spice up” your natural color and soften the look of the roots when gray grows in.

Prefer all-over coverage? Try a demi-permanent color that slowly fades over several washes, advises stylist Amie Zimmerman of Dirty Little Secret Salon & Spa in Portland, Ore.

“I use a shade that’s two to three levels lighter than their natural color,” says Zimmerman. “A demi won’t lighten natural color. It only deposits color onto the gray, turning it into a natural highlight. As the roots come in, the color is fading as well, so the contrast, is subtle. You won’t get that dreaded skunk line.”

But this only works with opaque color, which has a high concentration of pigment, Zimmerman stresses.

“Most demi-permanent lines are translucent, which are fun and shiny, but when it comes to coverage the gray often shows through,” explains Zimmerman, who uses opaque lines by Dikson and Goldwell.

For last-minute curlies in a rush, she suggests ColorMark hair mascara to cloak gray roots for a special event or until your next cleanse.

This fall, Frederic Fekkai also introduced its own Hi-Lights Hair Mascara as part of its holiday collection. Featuring diamond dust and crushed pearl, the limited-edition product comes in two multi-dimensional shades—cognac (for brunettes or redheads”> and gold (for blondes”>.

“It definitely buys you at least another week — it’s a temporary fix,” says Tammy Sherman, creative director for New York’s Frédéric Fekkai 5th Avenue. “Like other styling products that you put it in your hair, it’s out as soon as you shampoo.”

Another temporary coverup you may want to consider is colored hair powder, says stylist Ethan Shaw, of Anne Kelso Salon in Austin, Texas.

“Just spray your roots, and it will help cover them up,” says Shaw, who suggests Bumble and Bumble’s line. Keep in mind, the colored spray is ideal for oily hair types (while curly locks are notoriously dry”>, so keep touchups confined to just the roots.

And for absolute emergencies, Stanley says waterproof mascara will do the trick. “If you have gray that’s noticeable around the part or the temples, it can at least get you through a function!”

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