THE SHADE PARADE
By María Elena Bourbón,
Beauty Editor, Todo Ahora
October 15, 2002

I had known about the black tie event for months and for once, I was organized.  The gown was to die for, I had found an evening bag that actually held everything I needed and I even managed to lose seven pounds so I did not have to spend the night sucking in my tummy.  Last thing on my list, the hair.  I know my way around a french twist better than José Eber, but when it comes to coloring, I had always had it done professionally.   The endless variety of formulas of shades always left me bewildered and frankly, I was afraid of ending up looking like the offspring of a zebra and the flame haired girl on the Wendy's hamburger's sign.   I caught my stylist on his cell phone just as he was leaving for his two-week cruise to Alaska.  Great, I thought, he is heading out to adventure on the high seas and I am dry docked in hair-don't-ville. While I did not get an appointment with him, I did get some expert advice.  "You know, María," he began, "hair color is not a mystery, it is science.  You are a big girl, I know you can do it."  Well, he was right. Thanks to his guidance; I was able to choose the prefect product and color after I understood the basics of principles about hair.  The results were splendid.  In fact, he is the one calling me now to chase down an appointment.

Whether you just need to cover those grays, are a home color expert or are considering high lights for the first time, a little background on hair and hair color will help you get to the root of the matter!

Hair apparent
It's happened to all of us.  We selected the perfect shade and yet the end result looked nothing like the color on the box.  That usually occurs because we did not start off by selecting a "before shade" accurate to our natural hair color.  Both the hues and texture Mother Nature gave us plays a large role in the success, or lack of it, we will achieve in improving on it. From just two types of melanin (color pigments) – one black, one red/yellow – Mother Nature mixes the full spectrum of brunettes, blondes, reds and blacks.  Granules, tiny pockets of melanin, are scattered throughout the inner cortex of every strand of hair. The type of the melanin (black or red/yellow) and the percentages of each kind determines the color of your hair.  The amount the melanin and the way it is distributed determine the lightness or darkness of the shade:

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