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FIRE BRIGADE

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FIRE BRIGADE


Does your hair color give you flawless-looking skin and bright, flashing eyes? No? Perhaps it's time to turn up the heat, says Maggie Bullock



At 4 a.m. On the day of ­fashion up-and-comer Lyn Devon's spring show, hairstylist Sarah Potempa was wide awake in her Chelsea apartment-and up to her elbows in dye. "Lyn wanted the hair to be really art deco, kind of robotic, striking, and graphic," Potempa says. Her solution? Fourteen geometrically bobbed wigs in one unmissable hue: red.

"The color wasn't clowny, but it was definitely strong enough to add playfulness, giving everything a quirky, irreverent edge," Devon says, confessing that one of the wigs is currently stashed "at home, just waiting for a night out."

Indeed, red hair is a classic, potently memorable image maker, a calling card of impish beauties (Pretty Woman–era Julia Roberts), ballsy jokesters ­(Lucille Ball), steamy sex kittens (Ann-Margret), and hopeless romantics (those ringleted, rose-sniffing Pre-­Raphaelites). "Redheads have the best of both worlds," says Lena Ott, a colorist at Bumble and bumble's Meatpacking District salon in New York City. "They have the same eye-catching pop as a platinum blond—without the ditzy connotation—and the intrigue of a brunette." Is it any wonder flame-haired Kate Walsh is the only Grey's Anatomy star with her own spin-off (or that she was cast as McDreamy's cheating ex in the first place)?

In Hollywood, a fresh wave of warmed-up cognacs, auburns, and honey-browns (hues that Potempa says have "a certain rich naturalness") are cashing in on the shade's eye- and skin-enhancing properties without venturing into intimidating territory best left to the porcelain-skinned Karen Elsons and Lily Coles. "In pictures, Mischa Barton's new color appears brown, but in person, you can see wonderful warm tones that really make her eyes pop and her complexion look amazing," Potempa says. Likewise, she says, the gold in Jennifer Aniston's dirty blond "makes her skin look bright and alive, not dull and boring." A Midas touch may also be what keeps J.Lo and Drew Barrymore ageless. "Adding a little bit of gold—nothing yellow or brassy—can instantly take off five years," Ott says. 

She strikes at the heart of the matter: Fear of brassiness—the orangey cast that appears four to six weeks or so post-dye job—is what prevents hordes of women from warming up their color. Truth is, the effect can result from any chemical process that lifts hair's natural tone—even if your desired shade is ice-cold Stefani-­platinum. "When natural hair pigments are touched with ammonia or peroxide ­solutions, they oxidize and turn warm," says Thia Spearing, director of technical development at Matrix. "When the deposited pigment starts to fade, that oxidized color is exposed." Reinfusing pigment is key, whether at home once or twice a week with colored shampoos and conditioners, or with periodic professional applications of orange-eradicating toners. Spearing suggests that warm-hue-phobes head to a fabric store before hitting the salon. Buy a swath of metallic gold and one of silver (which reflect, respectively, warm and cool light), pull your hair back, and use each piece to frame your face. "The wrong color will make skin look blotchy and undereye circles and lines around the mouth more apparent," she says. "On the other hand, the right tone makes skin creamy and smooth. It's amazing."


From strawberry to sienna, celebs are fanning the flames with a spectrum of shades: Nicole Kidman's strawberry blonde locks


Women with naturally dark skin and hair can benefit from a burst of warm auburn undertones—Eva Mendes glows with subtle highlights.


A Midas touch may be what keeps Jennifer Lopez ageless, according to Lena Ott, a colorist at New York's Bumble and Bumble. "Adding a little bit of gold—nothing yellow or brassy—can instantly take off five years," she says.


Model Lydia Hearst went red to distinguish herself in a sea of vacant-looking blondes on the runway.


"Redheads have the best of both worlds," Ott says. "They have the same eye-catching pop as a platinum blonde—without the ditzy connotation—and the intrigue of a brunette." Is it any wonder flame-haired Kate Walsh is the only Grey's Anatomy star with her own spin-off?


Mandy Moore’s amped-up auburn lends an air of warmth to otherwise boring brown.


In Hollywood, a fresh wave of warmed-up cognacs, auburns, and honey-browns (hues that hairstylist Sarah Potempa says have "a certain rich naturalness") are cashing in on the shade's eye-and skin-enhancing properties without venturing into intimidating territory. Witness Beyoncé Knowles's rich hue.


"In pictures, Mischa Barton's new color appears brown, but in person, you can see wonderful warm tones that really make her eyes pop and her complexion look amazing," Potempa says.


Better off red? Lindsay Lohan as a blonde and a natural redhead


Scarlett in platinum and a richer honey-red hue


Ashlee Simpson loses brassy blonde in favor of a hotter shade of red


Julianne Moore as a bottled blonde, and in her rich natural shade


Davines Alchemic shampoo in copper, red, and tobacco, $20.50 each, at fourseasonsproducts.com


Sunsilk Color Boost Beyond Brunette conditioning treatment, $7.99, at drugstore.com


Matrix Shade Memory Sparkling Blondes Restorative System treatment, $18-$24, at amazon.com


Ted Gibson Individual Color Shampoo in captivating copper, $36, at tedgibsonbeauty.com

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