How Hair Coloring Works

Colored Hair Care and Tips

Color treated hair has special needs. Follow these tips to keep your hair looking great:

  • Use a shampoo created especially for color-treated hair (Revlon, L'oreal, Aveda and Clairol all make them)
  • Wear hats or hair products with sunscreens to prevent your color from fading and drying in the sun
  • Dampen your hair with bottled spring water before getting into a chlorine pool (it will help dilute the chlorine)
  • Condition regularly
  • Don't brush hair when wet -- use a wide-toothed comb
  • Blot your hair dry -- don't wrap it or roughly dry it with a towel
  • Avoid overdrying -- blow dry until hair is almost, but not entirely, dry

When Should I Go to a Professional?

Technology has improved home hair coloring products, which also contain packets of deep conditioning lotion to prevent drying after coloring. So you can probably do a pretty good job at home on your own. However, there are times when it pays to see a professional colorist. For example:


  • You want to lighten or darken your hair more than three shades
  • You've colored your own hair and it's a disaster
  • Your hair is permed or damaged
  • You have never colored your hair and want a major change

How can I find a good colorist?

Your best bet is probably recommendations from people whose hair you admire. And don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions the next time you go for a hair cut. (Increasingly, there are hair stylists who have concentrated their training on hair coloring. This couldn't hurt!)

Troubleshooting Tips

If you still have questions, check the list of common queries received by stylist/colorist Robert Craig:

  • Getting rid of color stains on skin -- Baby wipes work well, but try to avoid getting color on the skin to begin with and make sure to wipe excess from the ears and hairline before it has time to stain.
  • Coloring during pregnancy -- Some doctors advise their patients to avoid any kind of chemical service during pregnancy. While there's little concrete evidence that coloring during pregnancy is medically harmful, you should make your decision after talking with your doctor and your colorist. Most professionals say you should do what makes you most comfortable. (By the way, pregnancy may affect hair growth, loss, condition and even the amount of curl up to a year after birth.)
  • Color fading due to chlorine -- If your local water contains a high amount of chlorine, you might consider getting a filter for your shower. Chlorine can strip color out of hair and make it very difficult to re-color.
  • Going back to natural color -- To avoid the two-tone effect of letting your color just grow out, have a professional use a similar formula with a highlighting method. In three to four visits, you will be able to stop coloring and not have an obvious line.

If the permanency of hair coloring worries you, you can still achieve a dramatic, fun change with some of the temporary, wash-out highlights you can spray on or paint on with mascara-like wands. These come in regular colors as well as wild-as-you-want-to-be colors! And even if you experience a hair coloring mishap at home, take comfort in the thought that even permanent hair color isn't really permanent. It will eventually grow out!

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