Haircolor 101

When you’re searching for things to be thankful for this holiday season be sure to add to the list hair growth. Can you imagine a world where our hair never grew and you had to keep whatever haircut or color you had forever? I can’t, and thankfully I don’t need to, because the promise that hair will always grow allows us to try lots of new looks. Since hair growth is a guarantee, many of us out there have a false sense of security about what can be done with our hair color. As a color specialist I have noticed that most people have unrealistic expectations about what their hair can handle chemically, and while it is true that new hair will always grow in, it is still important to keep the hair you already have in tip top shape.

Hair coloring is a science and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your hair is like a delicate piece of fabric and there are instructions on how to care for it. Most of the products that color hair contain strong chemicals that are capable of causing damage to your hair if they are not used properly or are used too frequently. I like to have people change their color gradually and seasonally. Generally people go a little darker in the fall and winter, and in the spring and summer everyone wants those sun kissed highlights. There are ways to keep your hair in good shape and still make color changes, but there are two very important color laws that have to be remembered. If they are not, you may have to spend a lot of money on an expensive color correction or worse, you may damage your hair so badly that your only hope is cutting it off and starting over.

Semi Permanent Color Will Not Completely Rinse Out! There are many different types of color on the market and the only ones that will completely rinse away are referred to as temporary dyes. They include color conditioners, rinses, hair powders and hair mascaras, but even some of these will leave a residual stain on very light blonde hair, so be careful. Semi Permanent hair color is the bridge between temporary and permanent hair color. For this reason it is not a good option for trying to completely cover grey hair. That’s why it is often advertised as a grey blending product, because it won’t leave a harsh line as new hair grows in. Semi permanent colors usually are paired with a more gentle activator that deposits the dye onto the outside of the hair shaft like a coating; this can often leave a stain even after it has “washed out”. This stain will not be able to be colored lighter with anything but bleach, and sometimes that wont even do the trick. You cannot go lighter with semi permanent color, you can only go darker or add more tone (as in more red or gold, etc). If you want your hair to be lighter, you must use a permanent hair color or bleach to lift the hair to a lighter level.

Color Won’t Lift Color! This means that once your hair loses its virginity to hair color ( both semi permanent and permanent),  you won’t be able to make it lighter without a corrective color procedure. If you want to go darker, you can do that but you will never be able to use a darker shade one day and then apply a lighter shade over it and expect it to lighten anything but your roots.  A good analogy is coloring crayons (hair color) used on a piece of paper (your hair). Once you’ve colored something brown you can’t color yellow over it and expect it to be yellow, the brown was there first and it will remain there until it is erased. The only way dark color can be “erased” out of hair is with bleach or a harsh chemical color remover (I’ve never had good luck with these and they take forever). Once the color has been “removed” (a misconception because your original color is not hanging out below the surface, waiting to be set free) it must be recolored again to balance the mess that is left over. This process removes valuable protein from your hair that helps it to be strong and healthy. If that isn’t scary enough, there are no guarantees that it will even get hair light enough before it becomes so damaged that it melts! The results hinge on how much color is on the hair (counting every time that strand was colored since it grew out of your head), what type of color was used (strangely enough semi permanent color can be harder to remove than permanent color), and the current condition of the hair (so if you’ve already bleached it and dyed it dark, your hair may not survive another bleach party). Some protein can be added back to the hair after a color removal service with the use of protein rich shampoos and conditioning treatments (reconstructors), but it will never be the same as it was before.

If you want to have fun with your color you can, but you have to do it carefully and you have to have a professional helping you along the way. If you have a color question that you need an answer to please drop it down into the comment box below and I will give you my two cents of sense about it. I wish I could gift everyone I meet with the knowledge I have acquired about hair in my 14 years as a hairdresser, but if that were possible then you wouldn’t need to read my fabulous blog!

2 thoughts on “Haircolor 101

  1. Cindy

    Thanks for the great blog! I am always wanting to change things up a bit. I have changed my color over the many years several times. Usually toward the lighter side (a couple of times darker with a little maroon in it on the underside). I would love to be a Marilyn Monroe or Gwyn Stephani blonde, but that’s just never gonna happen. The information you have shared about hair color is a reminder that we just need to “own” what we’ve got…with maybe a little tweak here and there…LOL. Thank goodness hair does grow. Fortunately, I am one of those lucky people who have found the perfect hairdresser!

  2. Krista

    It didn’t occur to me I could subscribe to your blog, but I just did it! Keep them coming, Miss Natalie

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