questionsany hair care experts on here?

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Beauty school? I'd call the actual salon where you purchased the groupon, and ask which they recommended doing, without telling them you weren't going to do both at the salon.

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I am no expert and don't know the condition of your current hair, but if I were you I would get the cut and color first. If you are truly uncertain you can always call and ask them for their professional advice on what to do first.

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I agree with @shrdlu, but personally (having attended beauty school for esthiology) I know going to a student can be hit or miss but usually more of a miss. Sorry, it may not be nice to say but I would probably go to the school first and then the salon.

Also, you say you are going on vacation? I assume that may entail salt water or chlorine which = bad idea for just-colored-hair. But getting just a deep conditioning will help protect it while you are there.
Refer to this article: http://www.dailymakeover.com/trends/summer-hair-care-dos-and-donts/

"DON'T color your hair before a beach vacation."

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I would do the salon first. At my salon they offer a service where they do a deep conditioning treatment immediately following a color process - I'd assume it is that way for a reason. I always like to condition my hair after a coloring.

I went on a Carribean vacation shortly after coloring my hair this year (also red). My stylist recommended a UV protection spray which I used then and still do if I will be outside a lot. It helped prevent fading and red is notorious for fading badly. Mine usually does.

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Thanks! There will be beaches involved as we are going to Costa Rica. Most of the activities we have planned are on land, just because that's what we are finding online. But there will certainly be some ocean swimming involved. I see from the article that the issue is more about sun than the water. We have more sun here in the high elevation desert where I live than Costa Rica. But I might go ahead and get the color done now as it is still a couple of weeks out. I appreciate you all taking the time to respond. Learn something every day-- I had never heard of dry shampoo before.

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@mkdr: Cool. It never occurred to me to get sunscreen for my hair. But it's a good idea. I'll have to ask as the salon. Thanks!

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If the salon operator uses high quality products, there should be no need to condition your hair after having it cut and colored there. Have you thought of waiting until after your trip to see if it needs conditioning. I have straight, straight hair, and conditioner relaxes any curl or body. I rarely use it. If your hair actually requires a treatment, then by all means get it. I would most likely wait on all of it until the return from Costa Rica. Have a wonderful time!

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I'm seriously jealous about Costa Rica..... good luck with your hair adventures anyway. :) I just wanted to chime in about dry shampoo. I remember when my brother was in a coma in 1980 the nurses would use dry shampoo on him, obviously because he couldn't shower. I'm sure it has evolved a lot since then, but the concept isn't really new. Have a safe and enjoyable trip!

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@moondrake: Paul Mitchell Color Protect is what I use. Not sure if this is the best price, I usually buy mine at Ulta or my salon in person.