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Our hair undergoes massive abuse: between straightening, sun exposure, blow drying, and product, our manes just can’t get a break. But it’s not all bad–learn how to protect your hair from color damage with help from the experts.
You looked freaking amazing with turquoise hair last month, and this month you’re rocking that fire engine red. Unfortunately, all the chemicals needed to give you gorgeous mermaid-colored locks can also wreak some serious havoc on the health of your hair. So what’s a girl to do? Learn the tricks from the pros, of course!
- Drop the box and head to the salon- The only reason anyone ever goes for box dye is for cost. And it’s tempting: a professional coloring treatment in a salon will cost at least $50 (and, really, if you’re going from brown to pink, budget around $300) while a box of dye will run around $10. But there’s a reason box dyes are so inexpensive, and it’s primarily because they contain cheap yet destructive chemicals.
“With the box dyes, you have no idea what exactly is in there. Some dyes mixed with others can actually chemically burn your hair and make it snap off. When you go to a professional salon, we are formulating a personalized color for you according to your hair’s needs & condition. Licensed stylists spend thousands of hours in school just for the sole purpose of providing you the best result for your hair” –Veronica Wisrock, Medusa Salon, Huntington Beach
- Be patient- Coloring will take at least two hours, but if you’re drastically lightening your hair, recognize that it can be a process and your may need to make a separate trip to the salon so that your hair can recover between treatments. Don’t try to cram everything into one salon appointment.
“My advice for avoiding long term damage while coloring your hair is take your time. Sometimes coloring your hair is a multi-step process, so make sure you have an experienced stylist who has explained the process to you. I would also recommend a few key products as well, such as a good hair mask, a shampoo designed for color, and Brazilian Bond Builder. B3 can work wonders” –Andrea Mezin, Shear Expressions Salon, Wildomar
- Be gentle- Be nice to your hair and it will be nice to you. That means when you’re in the sun, wear a hat. Also, use quality professional products and always use a thermal protectant when styling. If you tend to wear your hair in a ponytail, know that it will likely damage your hair around the hair tie, so alternate hairstyles to avoid breakage.
“Never pull your hair back wet. It’s at its weakest wet and even more so if colored” –Elaine Mabey, 38 Street Salon, Bountiful
- Your hairdresser makes all the difference- Don’t hopscotch around town to different stylists. If you do end up moving or making the switch, find out exactly what products have been used on your hair in the past and let your new hairdresser know. Different color brands mean different chemical interactions, so if you don’t know your hair’s history, you can end up severely damaging your hair (or even cause it to fall out!). Also, do your research before committing to a single stylist: get references, look at previous customers’ color, and read reviews on sites like Yelp.
“Your hairdresser should never pull the color through the entire strand: he or she should only hit the regrowth. The rest is fine! If the rest isn’t fine, then you have a bad colorist and/or bad color” –Elaine Mabey
- Be flexible- Your hairdresser will know what your hair can handle, so don’t be angry if the answer isn’t what you want to hear. If, for instance, you want a pastel blue, but you have dark brown hair with a perm, your hairdresser may say that bleaching and coloring will cause severe breakage. Know that your hairdresser has your best interests at heart and don’t get upset if your plans need to change.
“Don’t push or demand that your stylist damage your hair further. When your stylist tells you no more bleach, you should listen” –Patrick Hoyal, Shep Studio, Provo
- Treat yourself- When hair undergoes stress–such as coloring and bleaching–it needs to be pampered (just like you!). Hot oil treatments and protein masks are great for mitigating damage from coloring.
“A week after color, you can apply a moisture treatment to increase shine and softness. While a few products may work differently, generally you should apply the treatment to damp hair and gently comb it through with a wide tooth comb. Wrap your hair in a towel and leave the treatment in for the recommended time. Then, rinse with cold water.” –Betty Wester, independent hair stylist, Alameda
- Your lifestyle matters- Coloring your hair requires a lot of maintenance. If you’re not willing to invest the time, money, and effort into maintaining and protecting your color, don’t do it: you’ll only damage your hair. For instance, if you have a bright color, you’ll need to forego daily washing to maintain color between appointments (washing makes color fade faster). The slower your hair color fades, the less often you’ll have to recolor it, and that decreases damage. Be honest with your hairdresser when you’re describing your lifestyle.
“If you’re not one to spend a lot of time or money on your hair you may want to think about the kind of inspiration pictures you’re walking into the salon with. And if you don’t know what’s realistic, no worries! During a consultation, your stylist can help guide you and pick something that suits your lifestyle.”–Amrah Kennedy Lucas, Toni & Guy, Mission Viejo
- Don’t be afraid of commitment- You’ll need to stick with one color for a while if you want to make sure your hair stays healthy. So, before you go to the hairdresser, make sure you’re actually ok with having navy blue hair for the next six months.
“Don’t be a repeat offender: changing your color too often does damage, i.e. blonde to brown and back to blonde again. Ask your colorist to do an Olaplex treatment after your color service. Be gentle when styling your hair: don’t use too much heat” –Chelsea Belushi, Méche Salon, Beverly Hills
See? Having great, healthy hair isn’t impossible. Be realistic, listen to your hairdresser, and use tools like Olaplex and oil treatments to boost shine and durability. After all: beautiful color looks even better on healthy hair.