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A Way to Save Time, Money on Dye Jobs? : Hair care: Color-enhancing shampoos and conditioners promise to offset fading effects. But they don't do wonders for the tint or texture of tresses.

March 11, 1994|CINDY LaFAVRE YORKS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The new color-enhancing shampoos and conditioners seem just right for the '90s. They promise to make busy women who dye their hair less dependent on the salon, or the Loving Care, by offsetting the fading effects of sun and shampoo between treatments. Some women swear by them. But others wonder if the potential savings in time and money is worth the extra hassle.

In evaluating whether these products will work for you, take note of what they do and don't do. Enhancers won't cover roots or gray. Instead, they are designed to add color to hair previously treated with permanent color, helping to blend ends and roots between treatments. They are temporary and contain no peroxide, but they can stain tubs, towels and even hands. And, as the labels warn, they may irritate sensitive skin.

Here are my impressions of a sampling of enhancers I recently put to the test on my fine, curly, easily fried, blondish hair.

*

Clairol Color Hold ColorRefresher, 4 ounces, $4.49 in drugstores.

Although some of the enhancers have serious staining capability, this one left scarcely any visible color on the tub, so I used my ivory-colored towels with confidence. Nary a stain resulted. After a quick blow dry, my hair felt soft and smooth, and looked very shiny. I carefully searched for newfound gold on my ends and thought I saw some, but no one commented on a change in my hair's appearance.

J.F. Lazartigue Colour Reflecting Hair Conditioner, 3.4 ounces, $31 at the J.F. Lazartigue shops in Beverly Hills and Costa Mesa.

Talk about indulgent. Between the steep price tag and the directions stipulating that the creamy, pearlized, honey-colored mixture be left on the head for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, I felt totally decadent using this product. (Pardon me while I postpone my life, I thought to myself as I waited for the minimum time to lapse.) What the product lacked in color effect (negligible), it more than made up for in its conditioning ability. My hair emitted a shine, even from the slightly enhanced split ends that appeared mended.

Paul Mitchell Creatives Color Infusing Shampoo, 8 ounces, $9.95 at beauty salons.

Of all the products I tried, this one appeared to have the most color in it. I applied the prescribed small amount, whipped my hair into a frenzied lather and waited five minutes before rinsing. It stung my eyes. My newly tinted tresses were a tangled web when I finished, so I applied conditioner, as the bottle suggested. Although that helped, I wasn't nearly as pleased with the texture of my hair as I was with its slightly more golden color.

Mastey Colour Refreshing Shampoo, 8 ounces, $8 at beauty salons.

This shampoo is by far the gentlest to the hair of all the non-conditioning enhancers I tried. It was possible to use the product without following up with a conditioner. It blended the roots with my over-processed ends, and I was satisfied with the texture of my hair, but I still needed a dye job in the worst way.

Aussie Intermissions Color Enhancing Shampoo, 10 ounces, $4.99 at drugstores.

The most affordable of the shampoo enhancers I tried, this one was also the most problematic. I applied the shampoo to my palms as suggested, but a bit ran down the side of my already wet tub and stained it to the point that I had to get out the Ajax. Because the label suggested a second application, I repeated the process immediately. I noticed a marked difference in the color, but I was unhappy with the strawlike texture of my hair, even after an application of conditioner.

*

In my experience, the new color enhancers have a long way to go. They seem too weak to reduce the frequency of color appointments, as a Roux rinse can. And because some of them are nearly as messy as a rinse and seem to wreak havoc with already taxed tresses, the effort isn't worth the side effects.

With the money saved forestalling a salon appointment, you may have to invest in a deep conditioner. For now, the best bet may be a combination of enhancers: I may try the Mastey shampoo and follow it with either the Lazartigue or Clairol conditioners.

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