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        The Tao of Roots

       How to Keep Your Beautiful New Hair Colour Beautiful

Melissa stared into the mirror. She was at that stage where it was almost impossible not to; stage four of four.

Stage 1: New colour, no roots, all is well (smile, dance, give Mrs. Cuddles a kitty belly rub and extra treats).

Stage 2: Miniature roots, no problem, ignore (smile, dance, tell Mrs. Cuddles to finish her leftover, icky, morning food).

Stage 3: Roots aplenty, no problem, as long as you don't look in the mirror; a little challenging not to look in the mirror (smile painfully, dance only because you had too much coffee, tell Mrs. Cuddles to get the heck off the counter).

Stage 4: Huge, venomous, snarling roots, dragging you from wherever you happen to be standing, over to the mirror, forcing you to stare; problem. (neighbor has taken Mrs. Cuddles, called the SPCA, and is standing guard on her front lawn with a shot gun).

Somewhere between stage three and four, there was a window of opportunity. Had Melissa taken that opportunity, she'd still be smiling, dancing, and have a nice little ball of fur that loves her and is willing to eat this morning's icky, dried out food once in a while. 

Photographs by Alessandra Favetto.

Roots are a good sign, they mean we're still alive, and the only permanent fix doesn't sound like such a great idea, so we might as well accept them. But that doesn't mean we can't make the most of everything else up there. Here are a few effective ways of keeping your colour looking good between salon visits. Some of these methods you may know already, but I'll bet there's a couple you never thought of.


  • Use good quality shampoo designed for coloured hair. In my opinion, three of the best (I am aware of) are Pureology, Alterna Caviar and Aveda. These brands are, in my experience, vastly superior to anything else I've tried, but if they are too expensive for you, get another good salon brand such as Rusk, Goldwell, KMS, Redken, etc.; just avoid (if you can) shampoos with Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, which is rather harsh and old-school foaming agent. Those with finer hair should consider products designed for your hair type. Some of the deeply conditioning shampoos and conditioners for coarser hair can be overwhelming for fine hair, weighing it down and making it too soft.
  • Don't wash your hair more than you need to. Find out how often that actually is, rather than just washing out of routine.
  • Don't leave the shampoo in your hair any longer than it takes to wash it. Leave the conditioner in as long as you like. The hair loves it when you give it a deep conditioning treatment. Saturate it with conditioner, comb it through and put a plastic bag over, then leave it in for an hour or three. The sun, sauna or steam room can provide additional heat, helping the conditioner sink more deeply into the hair. The plastic bag is only necessary if there's no external heat applied, it will hold in the heat from your scalp.
  • Some of us are shower junkies. That beautiful hot water, pouring over our bodies is a taste of heaven. But it's best not to stand in the shower for long periods with hot water pouring onto your hair, it can really strip colour. Direct it more toward your shoulders. Shampooing with water that is too hot will also fade colour quickly.



The four things that will fade colour the most are: excessive sun, swimming pools (salt and/or chlorine), poor quality shampoo and letting Mrs. Cuddles lick it all night because she missed you so much.
If you're out in the sun, cover your hair. But I don't believe in getting fanatical about this, the sun is a beautiful thing; just make a conscious choice and look for balance. Hair colour will fade in the summer regardless of whether you cover it or not, but obviously the less direct sunlight, the less it will fade.
 If you swim in pools a lot, wear a cap. If you don't want to wear a cap, buy a good quality clarifying shampoo. If you swim four times a week, perhaps use it once a week or so. There's no magic answer for swimming and hair colour; the clarifying shampoo will fade colour just like the salt will, but you want to avoid having the salt and/or chlorine build up in the hair, and the shampoo will remove it before that happens. Don't use the clarifying shampoo too often, and get a good one from a salon.


  • If you really need to use a Root Touch-up Kit, go ahead, but don't get carried away. Put the colour only on the root area, not through the rest of the hair. I've had clients getting “interesting” colours in their hair from getting the root touch-up colour on areas other than the grey roots, or from using it too often. You don't have to be perfect in your application, just pay attention and go slowly. Use the kit only when you really need to, and ask your stylist about it.


  • The quality of the colour being used and the way the it is applied has a huge impact on its durability. The drier the hair becomes, the more porous it is and the quicker the colour molecules vacate. 


  • If you have bleach/lightener highlights but the rest of your hair is uncoloured, your natural hair colour has been removed in the highlighted areas, so there's not a lot of pigment left that's going to fade, but everything I've talked about still applies because your highlights will still get dry and dull looking if you don't treat them nicely.

Other than that, the other really big gift you can give you hair is the same gift you can give the rest of you: love it. Stare at that hair in the mirror with those eyes you save only for babies. Caress those lovely locks. Fondle it, squish conditioner through it, pat it with the softest of towels, brush it like it's all you can do not too kiss it, then kiss it. And when it can hold back its grey no longer and they're sprouting like rhubarb all over your sweet head, tell your hair it's okay. With that kind of love, who would ever leave?

Jay Lamb is a hairstylist with over 30 years experience, a visual artist and a budding writer. For more information on Jay's hair salon, please visit:

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Jay Lamb

Flow Hair Salon


403 281 1704




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Jay Roma Lamb Art · 34 Lissington Dr. SW · Calgary, Ab T3E5E1 · Canada

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