Despite being a spa and beauty editor, I'm a pretty low maintenance kind of gal. When I grow tired of the gray hairs glaring back at me in the bathroom mirror, I'm more likely to pick up a bottle of hair color at the drugstore than I am to book an appointment at a salon. Of course, whether you do it yourself or opt for the professional treatment, the chemical in most colorants is hardly benign...and it begins to take its toll on your hair's health after awhile. Enter Shades Natural Color.
Shades emerged from the vision of Susan Henry. After years of working at renowned salons like Jose Eber, Umberto and Prive, the symptoms of ammonia poisoning threatened to derail Susan's thriving career as a stylist. Instead, she found inspiration in her daughter's study of Botany at Humboldt State, and worked tirelessly to develop an all-natural, ammonia-free permanent color process. Eventually, she opened Shades in Beverly Hills.
The first thing I noticed when I walked into Shades was the smell. There was nothing chemical about it; it was more like the invigorating herbal scent of a spa. Susan herself was my colorist, and her warm and friendly demeanor was as comforting as the cup of hot tea I sipped as she massaged a custom color blend into my locks. I relaxed and snacked on fresh blueberries while a state-of-the-art machine that resembled a giant halo applied heat to activate the color. Next came a lovely massaging shampoo and conditioning treatment, and then I was passed on to Kiki for a haircut and blowdry. Sweet and adorable as she is, Kiki is also a perfectionist, and clearly took the time and effort to make sure my cut and blowdry were virtually flawless.
When the pros were through with me, I marveled at how lustrous my hair looked and felt. A couple of months later, it's just as shiny and healthy looking - more so than with any color treatment I've ever had before. I'll be heading back to Shades soon to take care of my roots. Fortunately, for those of us on a budget, Susan sells take-home treatments as well, available in custom blends to match your color.
Shades provides a wonderful alternative for pregnant women or cancer patients who want to maintain their hair color. But after my visit, I have to wonder why anyone would bother with conventional salon coloring treatments when a just-as-effective, non-toxic alternative is available.