My friend here — we'll call her Debbie Harry for fun — has the kind of long, beautiful, blond hair that I daydream about having. It's soft, golden, kinda Shiloh Jolie-Pittesque, and it complements her porcelain skin so well. We went out the other night, and I offhandedly mentioned how I've been thinking of dyeing my hair blond. "I just don't want to spend a fortune at the salon," I said. "You're lucky to have naturally blond hair."

So then Debbie starts laughing, har har. As it turns out, she's not a natural blonde. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Then I had to get the name of her colorist. And then she blew my mind: She colors her hair at home with L'Oreal Excellence in 10 Lightest Ultra Blonde. (To create different tones, she's used levels 9 and 9½.) Her secret to keeping her hair soft and brass-free? She touches up only her roots each month, and she uses the deep conditioner that comes with Excellence all month long. Now that I know her secrets, it's only a matter of time before I join her in the secret society of bottle blondes.