Fair-Haired Beauty : Highlighting Is the Name of the Game, Even for Those Who Were Born Blond

AT A TIME when hair colorists around the world are declaring warm-toned brown tresses the latest and greatest, along comes Kim Basinger, a golden-haired goddess seemingly thumbing her nose at the trend. As Batman's heartthrob, Vicki Vale, Basinger is Hollywood's quintessential blonde, her hair the brightest spot in sinister Gotham City.

Even for a born blonde like Basinger, highlighting is key to a lustrous mane. The actress's Manhattan-based colorist, Louis Licari, touched-up her hair four times during four months of filming. "In 'Batman,' Kim had to be everyone's blond fantasy, so her hair had to be perfect. But most highlighting needs to be done only once every three months," says Licari, who also lightens the locks of Jessica Lange,Christie Brinkley,Rosanna Arquette, Kate Capshaw,Faye Dunawayand Lauren Hutton.

When Licari adds highlights--a service for which he charges $250--he concentrates on the top layers, leaving the hair underneath darker to give the illusion of depth. "On Basinger's light hair, the contrast is subtle," he says. "We just wanted to reflect more light."

Equally important, says Licari, a consultant for Clairol, is placement of the highlights. Rather than adding color in an even application, he places it randomly, in bold strokes around the head, "to make the hair look sun streaked."

In Beverly Hills, Jane Paddon,colorist and co-owner of The Burton Way Salon,says highlighting only the top layers of hair also means easier maintenance. "The more it grows out, the more natural it looks," Paddon explains. "Any sort of a bleached look is absolutely finished," she adds, noting that golden, reddish and honey blonds--as well as lighter, creamy blonds--have replaced harsh platinum.

Dusty Fleming, a Beverly Hills salon owner, says that Southern California blondes, once known for their natural-looking sun-streaked hair, have lost their appeal by continually adding more color during touch-ups. "The overall effect is too light, especially when the sun continues to bleach it. They've gotten too brassy--they look fake," he says. So Fleming places tints a shade darker on the hair adjacent to the highlights. "The contrast adds warmth and makes it look brighter, more natural," he says.

Many women with highlighted hair are concerned with maintaining a consistent shade, but Licari, who highlights about 60 manes a week, says they shouldn't be: "It's natural to have the color change from season to season. Blonds always get lighter in summer."

Harold Lapin, who bleached Marilyn Monroe's hair from dark ashblond to light platinum in the early '50s, complains that highlighting has dulled Hollywood's blondes. "It's just not as glamorous as when they were all platinum," he says. But the new Hollywood doesn't agree. Blond a la Basinger is its current ideal. Just ask Batman.

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