The past year and a half has been quite the journey for me and my colorist Emaly Baum. I bleached my hair platinum, six months later became a redhead, and six weeks after that dyed it back to a light mushroom brown. I learned three major lessons along the way. First, at-home toners, while absolutely necessary for keeping new color vibrant, can be unpredictable. A bad toner can be nothing short of dangerous; when I was blonde, I used the cult favorite Clairol Professional Shimmer Lights Purple Shampoo and stepped out of the shower with lavender hair. The second lesson is that, when you have dyed or damaged hair, hair masking is not just a luxury — it’s a requirement. If you don’t mask, your hair will likely split, break, or, at the very minimum, start to feel gross and elastic.
The third lesson I learned — after much trial and error (see: lavender hair) — is that if you’re going to dye your hair, or even if you’re just a person with hair, you need to buy Christophe Robin’s Shade Variation Care Nutritive Mask. This mask is far and away the best at-home toner I’ve tried (and I’ve tried many: from Davine’s Copper Conditioner to Oribe’s Bright Blonde). When I was platinum, the Baby Blonde shade kicked out any yellow or brassy tones that cropped up and returned my color to a bright and true blonde with a single use. When I was a redhead, the Copper shade quickly restored the auburn, Isabelle Huppert–esque color I left the salon with. And now that I’m a brunette, I’ve been using the Ash Brown shade to knock out any reddish undertones and keep my hair a cool brown. It does its job, and it does it well.
But the really important thing to know about this product is that it is simply the best moisturizing hair mask I’ve tried in my life. My hair, after the initial dye, was so brittle and damaged that I tested dozens and dozens of them: Gisou’s Honey-Infused Hair Mask (which worked really well, but the results lasted only a few days), Oribe’s Moisture Mask (which I found weighed my hair down), and Davine’s Renaissance Circle Mask (which I absolutely adore for travel but found wasn’t quite intensive enough for serious hair situations like breakage). The Christophe Robin mask is effective both immediately, and long-term — after using it, I noticed a change in the softness, shine, and texture of my hair for weeks.
The only problem I can find with this product is that it’s expensive: $53. But it’s the rare expensive item I have never once regretted purchasing. It is just good enough to justify the price. Plus, it lasts: During the six months I was a redhead, I went through only one tub.
If you want the hydrating benefits but don’t have dyed hair, get this Prickly Pear version.
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