Color treatments are among the most popular services offered in salons as men and women often enjoy changing the color of their hair or enhancing its natural tones to get a new look. As you age, hair coloring can also cover gray and white hairs to keep you looking younger and boost your self-confidence.
The secret to hair coloring lies in chemistry. The coloring products used to dye the hair contain pigments, which either coat the surface of the strands or modify their chemical composition to permanently change their color. There are five main categories of color treatment products used by stylists today.
Permanent hair coloring uses an oxidation chemical reaction to permanently change the color of the hair. It involves the use of a developer, an agent that contains hydrogen peroxide and serves as the catalyst or force that triggers the chemical reaction necessary to create the color change. Permanent dyes usually contain ammonia, which removes some of the natural color from your hair shaft to allow the pigments to apply more evenly and make it possible to lighten your hair. As hair treated by permanent coloring grows, roots in your natural shade will be visible at your scalp because the color of the dyed section will not fade or change much, even with washing. Because of this, you'll need to have your roots touched up approximately every four to six weeks. Permanent hair coloring will provide, the richest, truest color, but since it permanently changes the shade of the hair, will require re-dyeing if you do not like the color once it is in place. The dyes used for permanent color can have a drying effect on the hair shaft, which can lead to breakage and split ends without proper hair care.
Demi-permanent hair coloring uses a hydrogen peroxide developer, but often in a lower concentration than permanent coloring. Instead of ammonia, demi-permanent hair coloring uses a different agent, which has a less drying effect on the hair, but makes demi-permanent dyes unable to lighten. If you choose a demi treatment, you'll need to select a shade that is darker than your current color. Demi-permanent hair coloring lasts for about 6 weeks with the dyed areas eventually fading back to their true, original color.
Semi-permanent hair coloring does not permanently alter the chemical composition of the hair. The dye uses low amounts of hydrogen peroxide developer and features little to no ammonia, making it an excellent option if your hair is damaged or stressed from chemical treatments, blow-drying, styling with a flat iron or curling iron or the effects of the environment. A semi-permanent hair coloring treatment can last for 20 or more shampoos.
Semi-temporary hair coloring contains no ammonia and no hydrogen peroxide, making it the gentlest lasting color for the hair. Its molecules are generally smaller than those in semi-permanent coloring. With the right color protective shampoo, semi-temporary color can last for up to six washes.
Temporary hair coloring does not penetrate the hair shaft and instead just coats the strands. Its effects last for just one shampoo and can be a great way to see what you would look like with an entirely different hair color before you commit to a more permanent treatment.
In addition to all-over dyeing, there are other methods of hair coloring that provide different looks. One of the most popular of these is highlighting, which involves adding streaks of a lighter shade into your natural hair or on top of a permanent dye. Low-lighting is a similar treatment, except it adds darker streaks. To add brightness to a permanent color, some stylists place a layer of semi-permanent dye overtop in a process called veiling. For a dramatic look, you can opt for chunking, where coloring is applied to certain large sections of your hair, such as at the tips or bangs, to create a noticeable two-tone effect.
Once you have your hair professionally colored, you'll want to take steps to preserve its appearance as well as to protect and nourish your hair to prevent drying and breakage due to the chemical exposure. To keep your color looking great for as long as possible and to help maintain its health, use the following tips:
Wash your hair with a shampoo that is specifically for chemically treated hair. These products are formulated to be gentler on color and to help repair damage caused by coloring.
Follow up every shampoo with a conditioner made for chemically treated hair. The conditioner will help restore moisture to the hair shaft to prevent it from becoming too dehydrated and breaking off or splitting at the ends.
Avoid wrapping your hair in a towel after you shower as this can put strain on the hair shaft and create knots. Invest in an absorbent hair towel and use it to blot your hair dry instead.
Never brush wet hair as this can create breakage. Instead, use a wide-toothed comb.
If you blow-dry your hair, stop before the strands are completely dry. Leaving a bit of dampness will prevent over-drying and will also minimize static and fly-aways.
Before styling with a flat iron, hot rollers or curling iron, apply a spritz-on thermal protectant to minimize the damage caused by exposing colored hair to heat.
As the final step in your everyday styling, spritz on a hairspray with moisturizers and sunscreen to keep the hair shaft supple and reduce the effects of sun exposure.
Use a moisturizing mask that is safe for color treated hair once per week to give the strands an extra dose of moisture.
When you're going to be outdoors for extended periods of time, apply a leave-in conditioner that contains sunscreen. Not only will this help prevent your color from fading in the sun, but it will also counteract the drying effects of ultraviolet rays. Wearing a hat can also help to minimize the effects of sunlight on chemically colored hair.
Before getting in a chlorine pool, dampen your hair with bottled spring water, which will help reduce the effects of the chemicals in the pool water. When you get out of the pool, rinse your hair as soon as possible to remove the chlorine.