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Washing That Youth Right Out of Their Hair


The fact that President Clinton, who has just celebrated his 50th birthday, is proudly, and naturally, gray might give the hair-coloring industry pause. Americans born between 1946 and 1964 represent such a large bulge in the population curve that whatever they do, or don't do, is, was and always will be economically significant.

What if millions of graying boomers followed their leader's lead, and chose to face the millennium without benefit of the sort of tinting favored by Clinton's presumably naturally white-headed opponent? According to hair-coloring experts, just the opposite is happening.

"As baby boomers get more and more gray, they need their hair color touched up more often," says Stuart Gavert, star colorist at Umberto in Beverly Hills.

The man or woman who could let five or six weeks pass between touch-ups a few years ago now shows up in the salon every three or four weeks. Gavert has a few suggestions for making color designed to cover gray last longer. "Don't wash your hair as often," he says. "No matter how you figure it, shampoo is detergent, and that strips color from the hair. If you need to style your hair every day, just get it wet and use a little conditioner on it."

He also recommends using a color-enhancing shampoo for every other washing. Redken's Shades EQ, at beauty supply stores and salons, promises to diminish color loss by protecting hair from the sun. The line's Enhancing Shampoo actually deposits some color on the hair, in shades from Platinum to Espresso.

The Grooming Angel insists that a hot shower steams out facial creases, an inevitable consequence of sleeping on my side, so she approves of Gavert's shampoo-less shower. Of course, my hair looks better on the days it's washed, not just wet and blow-dried, creating a dilemma when the social agenda and hair calendar are out of sync. Spontaneity is a wonderful thing, but manicures, haircuts and teeth cleanings require forethought. If whoever writes books like "Men Are Hunters, Women Are From Pluto" would just clue guys in on feminine maintenance schedules, a lot of counselors would be looking for work. A surprise trip to Hawaii means one thing to a man, another to a woman who couldn't book a bikini wax before taking off.

Scheduling color touch-ups has gotten easier for people who travel since a number of colorists have become bicoastal. Gavert spends four days in New York, then 10 days here, and has capable assistants in both places. Colorist Louis Licari divides his time between his eponymous Beverly Hills salon and one on Madison Avenue.

Tourist Town: Swoosh! The second Niketown store in California opened this month at Wilshire Boulevard and Camden Drive in Beverly Hills. It's fortuitously located next to Planet Hollywood, for this is theme retailing, emporium as amusement park. Since the Nike athletic shoes and clothing, nicely organized by sport within the shop's 34,000 square feet, are available in department and sporting goods stores, Niketown aims to be a destination by virtue of its entertainment value. With the kind of inspirational graphics that have distinguished the company's ad campaigns on view, visitors are given enough visual stimulation to make a stop seem worthwhile, even without a purchase. Many of the customers on a recent busy Saturday were wide-eyed foreigners, and Nike has trained its knowledgeable staff to be friendly ambassadors of American goodwill.

* Sense of Style appears Thursdays in Life & Style.

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