Is monogamy essential to a good client/hairstylist relationship? In an ideal world, you’d never have to stray from the person you trust most with your hair. But in the real world, busy schedules or tight budgets often necessitate compromise. ‘I don’t consider it ‘cheating’ when clients maintain their own look,’ says Toronto hairstylist Marc Anthony. ‘Ultimately, as a professional, I want my clients to look great all the time.’ While he advises against going cheap on anything drastic, such as a completely new hairstyle, highlights or colour change, there are times when you can justify getting a little somethin’-somethin’ on the side, whether at home or at a walk-in chain.
The cheat: Stretch your time between salon colour treatments
How to get away with it: Fix your roots at home, says Eric Del Monaco, consulting stylist for L’Oréal Paris. He swears it’s simple: The key is to follow package instructions precisely, and to apply product neatly. ‘Don’t randomly apply it,’ says Del Monaco, who particularly likes the conditioning and shine-boosting results of the L’Oréal Paris Dream Blonde and Superior Preference collections. ‘Start from the front, and move to the back,’ taking care to get it on the roots only, then comb it through already coloured hair for the last five minutes.
If the ubiquitous bottle-style applicators included in many home colour kits are just too much work for you, try a simplified brush-on-style root colouring kit like Clairol Nice ‘n Easy Root Touch-Up. It takes 10 to 15 minutes, and could buy you three weeks.
John Rimes, a stylist and colour technician at Luscious Salon in Vancouver, says you can extend all-over colour from fading by using thermal styling products, which commonly contain amino acids and/or proteins to form a protective barrier between hair and potentially damaging heat-styling tools like hair dryers, curling irons and flat irons. Also, try to avoid using shampoo every day, he says.
Rimes prefers to use colour-extending shampoos and conditioners from salon brands ISO Hair and Davines. His final tip? ‘When you shampoo, do it in the coolest water you can stand. Hot water opens the hair cuticle and rinses the colour right out, while cold water seals the cuticle, protecting the colour.’
The cheat: Relax your own hair
How to get away with it: Chemically relaxing hair is generally a task best left to the pros, says Asha McLeod, stylist and co-owner of Jazma Hair Inc., in Toronto. ‘Otherwise, you risk chemical burns, and you can destroy your hair,’ he says. However, new hair growth can be relaxed safely if you follow these rules: Always enlist the help of a partner, buy the right relaxing product for your hair type, carefully follow instructions and use the correct maintenance products.
‘Check the ingredients and avoid any shampoos with sodium lauryl sulphate or any other salt,’ says McLeod. ‘They can dry and dehydrate relaxed hair.’ She recommends Kera-Soft Enrich Conditioning Shampoo, followed by a humectant (moisture-attracting) or anti-humectant (moisture-resisting) conditioner, depending on whether your hair has been treated to be wavy, or straight, respectively. She also advises clients with chemically relaxed hair to steer clear of wax-, petroleum- or lanolin-based leave-in products, which can lead to buildup.
The cheat: Get your bangs trimmed faster, cheaper
How to get away with it: ‘Going to the hairdresser every two or three weeks just doesn’t fit into my schedule,’ says Natalie Bahadur, an online editor based in Mississauga, Ont. To keep her blunt, dead-straight bangs in check, Bahadur sometimes pops into a $10 walk-in salon across the street from her condo. She minimizes surprises by requesting the least amount of cutting possible. ‘I always instruct the hairdresser to get my bangs out of my eyes but not above my eyebrows,’ she says.
When she feels up to the task, Bahadur also sometimes cuts her own bangs at home. If you go that route, buy five-inch haircutting scissors at a beauty supply store (or a large drugstore) and let freshly washed bangs dry before trimming (they’ll shrink as they dry). For straight blunt bangs, take your time: Never cut straight across on your first go. Instead, snip your bangs on a 45-degree angle, and once you have your desired length, go back and clean up the uneven edges.
The cheat: Skip the salon’s special shine treatment
How to get away with it: Ever wondered if the post-shampoo deep-conditioning treatment your stylist (or the receptionist) sold you on was worth the extra 20 minutes and $20? It was, if you adored the accompanying scalp massage. But if not, you can get great results at home with the right product.
The trick is to use a product meant for regular home use‘not a ‘professional strength’ or ‘salon formula’ product you snagged at the beauty supply store, which, according to Anthony, can actually over-treat your hair, resulting in flat, greasy hair or breakage. Try Schwarzkopf’s Seah Hairspa Aqua Indulge Moisture Mask, an at-home product available at salons that’s designed to bring hydration and ‘radiant shine’ to hair; or Marc Anthony Damage Repair Intensive Healing Treatment, a deep conditioner available at drugstores that also helps hair to resist damage from environmental factors such as dry air and harsh sun.
Admit it, though: There’s something to be said for slowing down and enjoying the occasional scalp massage.