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Ask The Makeup Diva
Welcome to Ask The Makeup Diva™! Our resident expert, The Makeup Diva, answers makeup and skin care questions sent in by readers just like you.

Q: My hair is quickly damaged, but I want to keep it long and healthy. Will coloring harm it, and what kind of products should I use?

A: I suggest that you do not color your hair unless it's imperative to cover unwanted grey. The plethora of captivating hair color ads state that color makes hair "stronger and more vibrant" after use, but that is deceptive. The two most destructive ingredients in color are ammonia (think "Mr. Clean" here!) and peroxide (as in bleach). They can ravage even strong hair, so avoid, please.

The beauty of virgin hair is unparalleled - in the light, you can observe that your own natural color is multi-faceted, comprised of several different, subtle hues, blended together beautifully. Once hair is dyed, it takes a long time (via growing it out) to regain that inherent sheen, and you'll most likely find your hair dry and frizzy.

Instead, increase gleam with henna, a natural plant extract to tint, highlight, and serve as a total sunblock. It comes in powder form (add water). Proper application requires time and patience (it can stain your hands and face as well), but women in mid-Eastern countries find it indispensable. Cosmetic Mall offers several varieties (including tints and clear), with prices ranging from $3.00 to $9.00. An easier choice might be to purchase a shampoo containing henna (Klorane's infuses gleam for around $10).

If you're still determined to try more traditional color, go no further than Clairol Loving Care, a tint free of peroxide and ammonia. It washes out in several shampoos.

Otherwise, ensure that your diet includes a powerful Vitamin B complex, necessary for strong nails and hair. Treat your locks with utmost care - whenever possible, work with your hands in lieu of combs and brushes. You should condition after each shampoo; occasionally, indulge in a deep conditioner like Phytotherathrie Multi-Regenerating Crème Bath ($28), available at Sephora.com. It's pricey but lasts a long time, restoring suppleness and gloss. Other "hair masks" and conditioners can be found at a local store or online. Beware of over-treatment. Harsh blow-drying (at high temperatures without a diffuser), perms, and body waves can wreak havoc. So can many hairsprays and styling products, as they contain alcohol and other harmful ingredients. Be sure to read contents completely before purchasing.


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