Coloring Your Hair

Posted by Adria Marshall on

Hair color is indeed a popular choice among curlies and naturals to add a touch of vibrancy or cover up gray hair. There are various types of hair color available, each with its own application process and effects. In this blog post, we will explore the different types of hair color, such as permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary dyes, and discuss how they work to change the color of your hair. We will also address the potential risks and considerations associated with hair coloring, such as damage, allergic reactions, and maintaining hair health. Lastly, we will provide tips and guidelines on how to safely use hair color and minimize any potential risks.

The 3 Ways to Change your Hair Color

Temporary Dyes

Temporary hair dyes are a popular choice for quick and temporary hair color transformations. Unlike permanent dyes, they don't penetrate the hair shaft but instead coat the surface of the hair cuticle. These dyes provide vibrant color payoff and typically last for 1 to 2 washes. With their gentle formulation, temporary dyes are a convenient option for those who want to experiment with different colors without causing significant damage to their hair. They come in various forms such as sprays, gels, or washable mousses, allowing for easy application and removal. Keep in mind that the longevity of temporary dyes can vary based on hair porosity, dye intensity, and shampoo used. While they may not be as effective on dark hair shades, temporary dyes offer a low-commitment and fun way to try out new looks. Examples of these are:

Semi-permanent Dyes

Semi-permanent hair dyes offer a balanced choice for those seeking a longer-lasting color transformation. These dyes contain small color molecules that penetrate the hair shaft and enter the cortex, the inner layer of the hair. Unlike permanent dyes, they don't interact with the hair's natural pigments. Over time, these small molecules gradually exit the hair shaft after several washes, restoring the hair to its original state. Semi-permanent dyes provide a more lasting effect compared to temporary dyes while minimizing some of the risks associated with permanent dyes. It's important to note that they don't lighten the hair color and typically last for around 5 to 10 washes. With a wide range of shades available, semi-permanent dyes allow for creative expression and versatility in changing your hair color without making a long-term commitment.

Permanent Dyes

These dyes cause lasting chemical changes in the hair shaft. They are the most popular types of hair dyes, because the color changes last until the hair is replaced by new growth. Permanently lightening the color of your hair is a 3-step process:

    • Step 1: Alkaline agents causes the cuticle to swell.
    • Step 2: Oxidative agents (Developers) cause the the bonds that make up the cellular membrane complex to break so that the natural pigment, or melanin, to dissolve. 
    • Step 3: Hair color is then deposited on your lightened hair

    It's important to note that permanent hair dyes create a lasting impact on the hair structure, and the color change will persist until the treated hair is replaced by new growth. To maintain the vibrancy and health of your colored hair, it's crucial to follow proper aftercare routines and use hair products specifically designed for color-treated hair.

    When selecting the most suitable hair dye, it's essential to take into account the potential risks to both your hair and body. In terms of safety, temporary hair dyes emerge as the least risky option. They are formulated to be gentle on the hair and often include nourishing ingredients that can improve hair condition. Moreover, there are no known health risks associated with temporary dyes. However, it's worth noting that their color longevity is limited to a few washings, which may not be ideal if you desire longer-lasting results.

    With semi-permanent hair dyes, your hair's cuticle is slightly raised so that the color can penetrate. This means that these treatments are more damaging than temporary hair color but not as much as permanent ones. Be sure to incorporate a regular protein treatment  ( into your regimen to keep your locks strong. A recent study has noted that those who are exposed to semi-permanent and permanent dyes at work (hair stylists and barbers) are more susceptible to bladder cancer (via skin exposure and fumes) and those who have the services performed are more at risk of breast cancer. To mitigate these factors, be sure to use gloves and a mask when performing coloring treatments and space out the services if you are having them done. Semi-permanent dye will wash out in 5-10 weeks and won't lighten your hair color.

    If you're looking for permanent results or a lighter hair color, you should consider permanent hair dye while keeping their risk factors in mind. Remember the 3 step process that we discussed earlier? Well, that second step is a doozy! Developers come in a few different levels. The higher the level, the quicker the melanin is dissolved. But this comes at a cost! Generally, hair will be slightly porous when coloring or lightening with 20 volume developers, porous when using 30 or 40, and extremely porous after multiple permanent hair color services, not including touch-ups. Because it's tricky to determine the right developer level, I strongly recommend going to a professional for permanent hair dye treatment. A good stylist will know the appropriate developer volume for the look that you're trying to achieve. They will also inform you if your desired results are unrealistic. To avoid a color disaster or irreparable damage, see a professional! Be sure to check their prior work to be confident that they are capable of handling your curly tresses. After your treatment, your hair will be more porous and susceptible to breakage, so be sure to incorporate frequent protein treatments into your routine ( When my hair was colored burgundy, I used a protein treatment every week and didn't experience any breakage! Also, remember to handle your hair extremely gently - don't rush wash days or your refreshing sessions! It's kinda hard to be a "lazy natural" if you have permanent hair color, in my humble opinion. The cancer risks that we discussed with semi-permanent color apply even more with permanent dye, so try to space out your coloring sessions as much as possible.

    I hope this blog helped to educate you guys on the types of hair dyes, how they work and their risk factors! Do you color your hair? What do you use? How do you ensure that you are protected during these services?






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    • Thank you for this thorough and informative post. I’ve gone back and forth with embracing grey for various reasons. I appreciate you sharing your experience with products and your research.

      Tia on
    • So where does henna fit in, speaking in terms of how long it lasts and how safe it is?

      Audri on
    • I use permanent dyes but I only use them 3-4 months apart. I use the ION brand from Sally’s along with the pretreatment and after treatment. This works better on my greys. Maybe one day I will embrace the grey, especially after hearing it may cause cancer.

      diane sanders on
    • I always enjoy your blogs. This one provided lots of good information as well as all the others. I like how you broke everything down. I had semi-permanent highlights years ago. Lately I’ve been using Gemini Naturals & Hair Paint Wax.

      Latoya on

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