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Any product that you may decide to use that takes the color out of your hair is a bleach, and the result of using a bleach is permanent, at least until the color treated hair grows out. Bleaching is the official term for any treatment which lightens your hair, and refers both to a complete color change from dark to fair, or to merely lightening already blonde hair by a tone or two. The easiest bleaches to manage at home are the family of lighteners or brighteners which lighten the hair gradually. They are perfect to give a lift to naturally blonde hair that has darkened with the passing of the years, or to lend a golden sparRle to chestnut hair or reddish glints to brunettes, whilst to mousey heads they can give sun-kissed lights. Richard Hudnut's Light and Bright is an example of this kind of lightener, and makes a perfect first-time hair coloring product because it is not only very mild, but it is so easy to use. It does not require mixing or timing, shampoos or rinses . . . you simply brush it gently onto the hair - and hey presto - there are glints in your hair you haven't seen since childhood.

Other subtle hair lighteners come in the form of a cream shampoo - like Polyfair and these, too, provide a subtle color lift so gradually that it is hardly noticeable and, of course, because the color change is almost imperceptible there is no question of re-touching, as there is with the stronger products. Next for the girl who believes, like Anita Loos did that gentlemen still prefer blondes there are stronger bleaches which come in either liquid or cream form, and the effect they will have on your hair will depend partly on the shade you choose, and partly on the length of time you leave the preparation on your hair. But do face up to the fact that if you are going to be a blonde you've got to do the job properly, and anything more than a single shade of a lift will mean that you must re-touch the roots as they grow out. And because dark roots show up so much more on a blonde head, it is best to choose a style without a parting, for a parting reveals exactly double the amount of regrowth. If a fringe suits you, you are 90 lucky because your bang will cover your tell-tale hairline and leave only a tiny patch on the front of the crown. Incidentally, blondies need to keep their hair bouncingly clean. Actually, of course, all girls should, but very fair hair, once it hangs lankly, is (extra-inclined to rat-tail partings, when it is anything less than super - clean, and this can give away your secret.

One of the reasons that Englishwomen find it diffi¬cult to look really convincing as blondes if they were not born that way is because our very English and common brown hair holds a high proportion of red pigmentation, and once the color has been bleached out our basic red tones show through. This is fine if you have only lightened the hair a shade or two, for the coppery lights are attractive, but once the hair color has been lifted by more than a few degrees it can have a brash and brassy look. If this happens after bleaching, you will need to use an ash tint to neutralize these too warm tints.

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