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Debunking Myths about Hair Coloring

Alicia Boal

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Some worry that hair coloring is bad for your hair, while others treat it as a go-to when change is in order. Spring is a common season when people seek this change—winter may have been long and preparing for the sunshine and glee of summer is often marked by lighter, brighter hair.

Though there are cautions to be taken, changing your look by altering your hair color could be just what you need to feel more confident when you look in the mirror, so don’t be put off by some misconceptions. Just like any hair care regimen, there are important things to keep in mind. For starters: Is my hair healthy enough to safely handle a chemical treatment? Will coloring damage my hair? When I arrive for my appointment, should my hair be freshly washed? How frequently should I wash my hair after it is colored?

Let’s dive in!

Don’t Fear Hair Coloring

Being able to change the color of your hair is a great thing and can perk up your self-esteem, make you feel more confident and allow you to change things up in an instant. One thing to be mindful of, however, is not to make this change too frequently because hair can only withstand so much. When you dye your hair, you’re chemically changing its composition. When the composition is altered too much, hair can begin feeling dry and brittle, so you just need to be mindful. Depending on what your color treatment of choice is, there are many safe options to get that change you desire!

Making Your Hair Lighter

Before and after photo of hair highlighted at Hair Cuttery

Do you want your hair lighter (highlights or all-over color)? As the seasons grow warmer, hair lightening crosses most of our minds—lighter, brighter hair seems to give us a burst of joy with the change of season, though this could mean more to consider with the health of your hair. Lightening your hair is a permanent process and can even continue to change small amounts after being in the sun and with frequent washing. Hair lightening needs to be performed cautiously because it typically involves a decolorizer which could wreak havoc on your tresses. Your Hair Cuttery Professional will be sure your hair can withstand lightening before beginning, therefore making the process safe, satisfying and fun! Lightening your hair ranges a great deal depending on your existing color and what your goal is—sometimes a lighter brown than what you have or many degrees of blonde or reds.

Making Your Hair Darker

Do you like to make your hair darker (lowlights or all-over color)? This can be less damaging than lightening because there are different levels of permanency, some weak and some strong. A semi-permanent color does not lift the outer layer of your hair, the cuticle, so it's quite safe for the integrity of your hair. Semi-permanent color coats your hair and typically lasts 20-30 washes, fading gradually, and does not cover grey. Demi-permanent is stronger than semi-permanent and does fade but not completely. In terms of grey coverage, it may tint the hair creating a dimensional look, but will not provide full coverage. Permanent hair color is indeed permanent. It does not fade over time (for the most part—some colors may lighten, especially red) as a strong developer was used that lifted the cuticle and allowed the color molecules to penetrate the hair shaft. This provides full grey coverage and lasting color. Maintaining color (darker or lighter) on your regrowth is typically safe but repeated permanent coloring or lightening of your hair from root to end can lead to over-processed hair. Just be wise about it and properly communicate with your stylist to ensure this change is positive!

Before and after of blonde to redhead hair color change at hair cuttery

 

Clean or Dirty?

You’ve made your appointment at Hair Cuttery but are unsure about before-and-after washing. You may have heard someone say, “Don’t wash your hair before it’s colored.” This sounds unclear so here’s what that’s all about:

Neither freshly washed hair or long-since washed hair is ideal for coloring. If your hair hasn’t been washed in many days and is burdened with build-up, this isn’t helping anyone. Also, washing your hair the day of, or within a few hours of, isn’t best. There is a happy in-between to this: wash your hair a day or two before your appointment. If you’re a daily washer, the day before is good; if you’re a two-times-a-week washer, a day or two before is probably ok.

Why? Having natural oils and a little bit of product at the scalp creates a nice barrier between your scalp and the chemical being applied onto it, or very close to it. This could help prevent burning and itching. Day-old hair also allows for some friction between the hair and stylist’s hands or tools making it easier for your Hair Cuttery Professional to work with. Freshly washed hair means no natural barrier at the scalp and also smoother, sometimes slippery hair, making it harder to work with. Hair that is too far past wash day may need to be washed before the service if there is too much build-up making it challenging or undesirable to work with. Though freshly washed hair isn’t ideal, heavily soiled hair and scalp are less ideal.

When to Wash Your Newly Colored Hair

After coloring, the less you wash, the better. As mentioned above, when you chemically change your hair, the cuticle layer is lifted to allow color molecules to penetrate the hair shaft, or lifted to remove existing color. After being lifted, the cuticle will not reseal 100% but over a few days it does begin to relax back down so waiting for this will help maintain your fresh, new color. You can wet your hair in order to style (even using conditioner and styling products is ok), but try the best you can to hold off on the shampoo for three days. Then, you can continue with your usual routine, but know that the less frequent you wash, the longer your color will remain true.

Give it a Try!

When it comes to change, we all need it sometimes. Don’t fear this change because it is a “chemical process” and you’ve have heard horror stories or how it can be damaging. There are many ways to maintain the integrity of your hair while changing things up so don’t be persuaded by the misconceptions of hair color. No matter what you have on your mind, discuss it with your Hair Cuttery Professional at your next appointment because they’ll know just what to do to achieve the change you’re longing for.

Also, check out a stylist’s guide to color correction and get some inspiration on the HC Lookbook and see work done by Hair Cuttery stylists.

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