So I’ve dyed my hair a few times now. I’ve had green tipped hair, a purple fringe, used various brown box dyes, a black box dye, and now a full head of red (I’ve been adding other colors to the red too – purple and orange mostly). Here are a few things I’ve picked up with my hair adventures.
Must you bleach your hair?
More often than not, the answer is yes. Especially if you, like me, have dark Asian hair. Even if I wanted a dark blue, I’d have to bleach it a little to get the color to show up. When you bleach your hair, you’re 1) getting rid of pigments in your hair and 2) making your hair more porous so it means the dye penetrates your hair better. Check with a professional what needs to be done, most salons have free consultations.
Most people are afraid of the term ‘bleach’ because they think it’ll ruin their hair. But don’t worry! There are plenty of hair treatments these days (have you heard of Olaplex?) that mean that bleaching is no longer as damaging or hazardous it used to be.
So how do you make your hair color last longer?
1. Using acid dyes (and not semi permanent dyes)
Acid dyes are typically used in salons and last longer.
Semi permanent dyes are cream dyes suspended in conditioner, so you usually find your hair feeling softer after using it (as opposed to fried and frizzy). These do not penetrate your hair but actually rest on top of your hair, so they don’t last as long as the acid dyes. (Do note that semi permanent dyes sometimes stain bleached and very light colored hair though.)
2. Picking the “right hair” colous
I don’t meant to sound judgmental and tell you what colors to dye your hair with, but it’s a fact that certain colors just last longer than others. Pastel shades will wash out a lot faster than deeper, more vivid shades, so you might not want to go for them if you don’t have the wallet to maintain them (even though they are so very pretty).
Reds and greens stick to the hair a lot longer than blues and ash tones. Red actually pretty much stick to your hair forever – I’ve got friends telling me that when they bleach their hair three years after they’ve dyed it red, they never quite get rid of the pink tinge.
I’ve also been scolded by my hair stylist for dyeing my hair black with a box dye (this was just before I dyed it red). She needed to bleach my hair twice to lift the black pigments – they’re apparently really difficult to lift and are incredibly stubborn. So do remember: blacks, reds, and green dyes are extremely stubborn, and are colors you will have to commit to. I’ve got friends who tell me that they’d had to bleach their hair repeatedly to get the pink tones out of their hair, two years after they dye it red.
3. Using the correct shampoo and conditioner
You know those shampoos labelled “for colored hair”? Yeah they’re labelled that for a reason. I made the silly mistake of using my usual shampoo and conditioner the first time I dyed my hair green, and all my money went down the drain. (I cried very much that day.) When I dyed it green again at the salon, and used a proper shampoo this time, it didn’t fade anywhere near as fast. The kinds of shampoos labelled for coloured hair usually have less sulfates in them and are less harsh on the hair.
Also when you dye your hair a really pale color, or an ashier tone, you’re sometimes given a purple conditioner/shampoo to use, to ensure your hair doesn’t turn brassy anytime soon. Check with your stylist if you have to use this before you decide on your hair color.
4. Use less heating and styling products
Heat strips the color from your hair faster as it opens up your pores, so you might want to cut back on using a curling iron. And yes, avoid the hair dryer too.
5. Wash your hair less and embrace dry shampoo
Sounds gross, yes, but trust me, cutting back on shampoo really helps in maintaining your hair color. Spritz dry shampoo into the roots of your hair to absorb the oils. I usually shampoo my hair once every two or three days, depending on how hot the weather is.
6. Wash your hair with cold water
This makes all the difference. Hot water just strips more color from your hair, and I feel damages your hair slightly (my hair always feels dryer after a hot shower). These days I just wash my hair in the sink, and keep my showers hot.
7. Touch your hair up yourself with semipermanent dyes
Semi permanent hair dyes like Manic Panic and Special Effects are great for DIY touch ups, especially when you don’t have the time/money to go to the salon.
Not quite relevant but I think point 7 goes along well with ensuring that you cut and dye your hair in a way that makes it easy to maintain. The ombre trend, for instance, was really popular at one point, and is great because it doesn’t matter if your roots start to grow out, as the color is all at the bottom of your hair. When I had green hair it was so easy to touch it up, as the colour was concentrated at the bottom of my hair, and didn’t have to worry about my roots growing out. My purple fringe was a little harder, but it didn’t look too bad as it grew out.
Now I have multiple colours in my hair, which makes it really difficult to touch up with just the one colour. I’d definitely need help if I wanted to do it.
With green hair. This was obviously really easy to touch up, and looked really pretty when my hair was in a messy bun.
The purple fringe was really easy to maintain too.
The red hair. Photograph by Likhitha.
The second time I touched up my red hair, I added orange and purple streaks. Very pretty, but impossible for me to touch up on my own.
8. Keep your hair healthy with hair treatments.
Use leave-in hair oils (do look for ones that actually contain the promised hair oils, and do your best to avoid silicons which can weigh your hair down). Keeping your hair healthy means 1) it just looks nicer and 2) being less porous, it locks your colour into your hair so your dye won’t run as much. I use the magical Perfect Hair Repair Serum by Korean brand Mise En Scene.
How do you maintain your hair? I’ll love to hear any tips you may have!
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