Hair color is one of the most common cosmetic “investments” that women (and men) make. However, getting your hair colored in a salon is expensive, and with the economy in shambles, everyone is looking for ways to save money. Home hair color can be a much more economical option, but things can go horribly wrong when using drugstore products, and fixing a home hair color mistake can be much more expensive than getting your hair colored professionally in the first place. Protecting the health of your hair is of paramount importance – and here’s how to do it.
The first rule of home hair color is: NEVER use a boxed kit from the drugstore or beauty supply. Boxed kits contain low-quality dyes and developers, and they don’t take into account your natural color, tone and level of gray. Professional products cost more, but they contain high-quality ingredients and lipids that can actually strengthen your hair while you color it. Unfortunately, professional products cannot be found in stores. However, online retailers now carry everything you will need to color your hair like a pro.
Henna is another home hair color product to avoid. Although henna is not inherently harmful to your hair, it bonds with the outer coating of your hair strands in a unique way that makes it impossible to remove. Until it is cut out of your hair, you cannot safely color your hair with anything else. Bleach in particular reacts very badly with henna – bleaching over hennaed hair is a sure-fire way to end up with traffic cone orange hair. Also, because henna is a plant based product, it is impossible to determine its strength, which means your results will be totally unpredictable.
Another important aspect of hair health to consider when dyeing your hair at home is your hair’s natural color, texture and condition. When you lighten your hair, you are removing pigment from it, which weakens the strands. If your hair is already weak or in poor condition from heat styling or other damaging treatment, lightening it will weaken it further. You can minimize this damage by using professional color, but lightening is not an ideal process for the health of damaged hair. Conversely, darkening your hair color deposits pigment into your hair strands, which can thicken weak or thin strands and add volume and strength.
Although the words “peroxide” and “ammonia” often carry a negative connotation, they are essential ingredients in any permanent hair color. Peroxide and ammonia work together to lift the cuticle of your hair and lighten it, and will not damage your hair if used correctly. Most home hair color horror stories about “fried” hair are the product of mixing bleach (which typically contains a large amount of ammonia) with a too-strong developer and leaving it on for too long, or using heat to speed the lightening process. Box kits are a major culprit here, because they contain just one level of developer, which is not appropriate for all hair types. Following the manufacturer’s instructions regarding heat and timing and choosing a developer of the appropriate strength for your needs will protect your hair no matter how light you want it.
Healthy hair is beautiful hair, no matter what color it is. Home hair color can contribute to the health of your hair, as long as you use the right products AND use them correctly. Happy hair coloring!