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With summer on its way, maybe you are thinking about giving yourself a new look. To add a little spark, try coloring your hair. You don't have to be going gray to add a little drama to your life. Many women are choosing to color their hair simply as a way to update their image. Nevertheless, gray or not, with so many choices out there, its a good idea to educate yourself before taking the plunge.

· Semi-Permanent Color: Otherwise known as glazing, color stain, or a wash, this is a no-commitment solution for someone who is interested in trying out color. This method is intended to cover the majority of gray hair but only temporarily, between 4-6 weeks. Since semi-permanent color can only darken the hair shaft, it can give tresses a boost in shine and texture because of its no peroxide formula.

"I usually recommend semi-permanent color when someone is starting to go gray or they are just tired of
their own color and are looking for a change," says Gail Vartian, hair stylist at Laurelmead Salon in
Providence, Rhode Island. "And since permanent color often times means a lot of upkeep, I tell my clients to stay with semi-permanent color as long as possible."

· Permanent Color: Because permanent color deposits pigment into the hair shaft, those wishing to go lighter than their natural hair color can do so. Although permanent color can cover gray more effectively than a semi-permanent treatment, the hair is more prone to damage; therefore, shopping around for shampoos and conditioners specifically made for color treated hair is essential.

· Highlighting: To give hair more depth, highlights can be applied to those with or without color-treated hair. And these days, highlighting is no longer just for blondes. Brunettes and redheads are fair game too. Some clients when going to a salon choose a more sophisticated approach to highlighting. Called weaving, a talented colorist can blend two or three natural looking colors to create a subtle effect.

Do I Go To A Salon Or Do It At Home?
Color is tricky. The rule of thumb is that you should not go any more than 2 shades lighter than your natural hair color, according to Vartian who also says that although coloring your hair at home is less costly than going to a salon, there is more room for error. So, she advises consumers who choose to color their hair in the convenience of their own homes to carefully read the directions before applying color and to conduct a strand test.