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Balayage highlights

IN LIVING COLOR “This is what virgin hair looks like,” Sydney Brown says to her coworker at the Salon at ULTA, pointing to my long, brown...

Photograph: Stephanie Anderson

IN LIVING COLOR “This is what virgin hair looks like,” Sydney Brown says to her coworker at the Salon at ULTA, pointing to my long, brown tresses. Ten years. That’s how long it’s been since I highlighted my hair, and apparently by salon standards (and because I’ve grown a full new head of hair), I’ve become a born-again virgin. While I’ve prided myself on my purity, the thought of a little spring color—something the rest of my body hasn’t enjoyed since August—got me excited. I tell Brown to do whatever she pleases, and she uses balayage highlights, a French highlighting technique she recently introduced to the salon. Compared to foiling, balayage allows the stylist to create a more customized, organically woven-in look. She selects a mix of colors and spends the next two hours hand-painting my hair in thin layers, separated by sheets of plastic (pictured here on a model) while the dye dries, and then washing it out. When I return to work, my coworkers can barely detect a change, but two washes later, shiny, golden streaks peak out beneath my dark, barely sun-exposed locks. They’re subtle enough to appear natural but also noticeable enough to add a little life to my face. So, while my complexion will likely remain pasty for the foreseeable future, at least my hair will give the impression that I’m still a California girl. $75–$180 at 114 S State St (312-279-5081, ulta.com).

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