Recently, I got a horrible set of highlights at an event. My existing ombre/babylights situation had started to turn a little brassy, so I asked the stylist—who shall not be named but is basically Voldemort in my eyes—to just make everything darker, closer to my natural hair color. A pretty straightforward request, I thought, until she proceeded to paint stripes upon stripes of highlights that ran from my root to end. "Maybe it won't be so bad once she tones over them," I thought as I sat in the chair, helpless. By the end of the hour, my hopes were proven wrong, as the foils were removed and the strips of orange spanning the length of every single layer were revealed.
The salon is a funny place. You put total trust in your hairstylist after expressing your every want and need, but when the finished result and their own vision doesn't line up with yours, you're afraid to speak up, perhaps out of fear you'll offend them. I was the last appointment of the day, so I felt guilty asking for the color to be tweaked, and in the hazy light of the salon, it didn't look terrible. Or anyway, nothing a quick hair gloss couldn't fix. Upon arriving home and seeing my tiger stripes, I realized just how bad the situation really was. Similar to a Britney Spears circa 2000 music video, rows and rows of blonde-ish streaks coated my entire head, and the obvious stripes around my scalp were what really pissed me off. I got on my phone and wailed about it to my boyfriend, sobbed to my mother, and texted each and every one of my friends in distress. "I don't think it looks terrible, but I can see why you're upset," my coworker told me once I got into the office, following the previous night's rapid text session. "Just part it a different way so you don't see the highlights, and ask her if she has time to fix them." But the feeling I had in my gut was sort of like finding out your ex had cheated on you, and was now begging for forgiveness—sure, maybe things could be fixed, but your trust was already broken once. The second time around would probably be horrible.
Not too long after, I caught wind that colorist extraordinaire Heather Cie would be making a trip to New York, and was taking appointments. I wasted no time in booking one, and she was the saving grace in this entire ordeal that was my hair. "Who did this to you?" she asked, coaxing me into a robe. The oversharer I am, I proceeded to tell her all the gory details within minutes of meeting, and begged her to please, please just make me brunette again. "I don't know why people keep trying to make me blonde! I don't want to be blonde!" I screamed from the salon chair as a series of low-lights were expertly applied, effectively turning the intensity down by 10. A half hour later, I was whisked off to the sink, where she applied a rich, floral-scented gloss she mixed while my color was processing. "Purple shampoo will be your best friend until the next time I see you. You don't want any of the orange coming through again," she told me. "The gloss should keep everything else in check. I mixed a few pumps of the Evo Fabuloso conditioner ($28; amazon.com) in, too."
Evo's Fabuloso and I were old acquaintances. Years ago, when I was in my creative color hair phase, I used the red formula to tint my ombre highlights a rose gold shade. The Chestnut hue was a new, but very welcome, addition to my haircare lineup. As a conditioner, the product is very hydrating, and is infused with good-for-you ingredients like macadamia oil to reverse any dryness caused by either single or double-process treatments, but the true magic lies in its color-depositing qualities. With shade formulations designed to treat any color of the spectrum, from my deep brunette all the way to a platinum blonde, the intense pigments blended in actually tone your hair every time you use it, so you don't have to worry about your color fading or shifting. Try mixing some in with your favorite conditioner first to determine how intense the payoff will be on your color. From there, you can gradually dial up the amount, or just apply it solo, which is what I typically do.
That said, I'm done hopping from colorist to colorist these days. Heather and I may have a long-distance relationship considering that her salon is in Malibu, but she's my one true steady from here on out. She brought me back from the brassy, TRL-era highlights I reluctantly wore (or tied into a top knot, rather), and for that I am forever grateful. She's the only one who gets to touch my color now, and until our next appointment in a few weeks for a touch-up, Fabuloso is keeping me honest.