Thursday, May 04, 2006

Brunette Is the New Blonde

As a woman who wears glasses, barely tops five feet and eats, I will never see a reasonable facsimile of my personhood strutting down a catwalk. But my hair is suddenly fashionable.

According to the folks at Redken, who I have no reason not to trust, “this season, a runway favorite [in hair color] is brown.” To which I can only say, it’s about time.

The brown-haired, brown-eyed combo has been a one-way ticket to Dullsville. Back in 1967, Van Morrison threw us a bone with “Brown Eyed Girl.” It’s been an awfully long dry spell ever since.

Picture Marilyn Monroe as a brunette—her name is Norma Jean. No, better to be blonde, and better still to be blonde and blue-eyed. On the opposite end of the color spectrum, the darkest-tressed amongst us earn their share of props. Does the phrase “raven-haired beauty” ring any bells? Even redheads have a certain curb appeal—they’re fun, flirty and fiery. The adjective most frequently paired with brown? I believe that would be “mousy.”

Now we’re trendy. While the attention was flattering at first, it’s become annoying.

The “magnificent” Katie Holmes is a Brownie. Two of the four “Desperate Housewives” are brunettes (well, possibly all four, but only their colorists know for sure). Between them, Teri Hatcher and Eva Longoria have single-handedly cured me of my addiction to “Access Hollywood” and driven me to reconsider my negative stance on highlighting. Ladies: Brunettes are smart and level-headed, not attention-grabbing nut jobs. Get your stereotypes straight.

Since we’ve gone Hollywood, “basic brown” no longer suffices to capture the radiance, some might say luminosity, of our once-scorned locks.

The brain trust at Redken offers up shades of “mahogany” and “cinnamon.” Pantene’s Brunette Expressions line ranges from “toffee to almond” and “nutmeg to dark chocolate.” My homeboy John Frieda’s Brilliant Brunette shampoos and conditioners go from “amber to maple” and “chestnut to espresso.”

Truly, I would need a Crayola 128-pack (with built-in sharpener) to compare nutmeg to maple. It’s like the marketers at these companies spent their morning staring at a Starbucks menu board and the afternoon trolling supermarket candy aisles.

The amount of time I spend debating whether I have light dark-brown hair (I guess that would be chestnut) or dark light-brown hair (I guess that would be maple) is absurd. I could be volunteering at a soup kitchen, solving the health care crisis, or choosing a better wrinkle-reducing cream.

Because Frieda’s ads caught my eye first, I’ve become a Brilliant Brunette disciple. I opted for chestnut over maple solely because I love Christmas songs (“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…) and hate maple syrup and candy, which might be one of the few sweets that I find disgusting, along with caramel popcorn balls and Peeps.

But if Pantene can come up with a way to blend dark chocolate with toffee—let’s call it Heath Bar—they’ve got a new customer.


Luminous Update
Because I’m intrigued by all things “luminous,” I purchased John Frieda’s Luminous Color Glaze (an extension of Brilliant Brunette). It promised to add a touch of color, a boost of shine and a glossy luxurious feel.

Does it deliver? Well, my hair is glossier and shinier—assuming there’s an actual difference between these two terms. It could be the Color Glaze, or it could be that I’ve been growing my hair out and using less luster-sucking styling product.

The color does seem brighter. Again, it could be the Color Glaze or the fact that it’s May and I’ve finally set my hair free from hoods and hats to bask in the sun.

“Luxurious feel”? Um, no. My hair feels soft and…flat. Which is what happens to fine hair when it meets a…conditioner.


Luminous Sighting
In Style, May issue, pg. 384, “Get Ready for Summer”: Make skin luminous with a drop of iridescent shimmer cream mixed into a tinted moisturizer.


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