Ever since I colored my hair two months ago, I’ve been getting questions from people. I’ve answered some one-on-one and on social media but there’s still a lot to be covered on the topic of natural hair and permanent dye. Before we can discuss how to do it, there are some important things that we need to understand:
Changing Your Natural Hair Color
The color bug is real and so is its bite. In the past few months, a good number of natural hair bloggers and YouTubers (in Kenya and the world over) have colored their hair. The urge to change your hair from its natural black to another color is therefore common. It is also believed that women tend to color, cut or change their hair in other drastic ways when they experience a major change in their lives. While this is true, some of us dye or want to dye our hair just because it’s fun and different.
Coloring natural hair, especially with permanent dye, starts with lifting of the cuticle. The color then alters the proteins that give us our natural hair color before the cuticle closes back down to keep the color in. The only way to avoid this process is to use temporary dye. Temporary color adds a coat or layer to your strands. The color sits on top of the strand and therefore fades completely after a few washes.
Natural Hair Health and Coloring
It’s important to have healthy hair if you plan to color it. Think about it this way: if your strands are already healthy, the damage (if any) to your hair will not set you too far back. However, if you agitate unhealthy hair, the results can be disastrous.
Before you can color your hair, you must go through a few months of research and intense TLC. These include:
- Protein Treatment
Protein treatments are masques will help to strengthen your hair. I did a product haul at the beginning of the year and you can read about the ORS Mayonnaise Treatment I use here. There are other products such as Shea Moisture that also do a good job. However, if you prefer DIY home remedies, you can try the popular egg mayonnaise hack or the gelatin hair mask. These are much cheaper and just as effective.
- Intensive/ Deep Conditioning
When deep conditioning is done properly, you introduce moisture to your strands and lock it in for healthier hair. Permanently coloring natural hair makes it prone to dryness and breakage. Ensuring that your strands are properly moisturized beforehand reduces the chances of hair breakage and excessive shedding.
- Trimming Rugged Ends
Once you color your hair, your ends will need some extra love. As the oldest part of your hair, they are more susceptible to split ends and breakage once you color them. To avoid this, it is best to trim off your rugged and rowdy ends before coloring your hair. Starting on strong and healthy ends will be best if you want to retain length.
You can read more about how I trim my hair at home here.
- Research on Different Color Brands
70% of the people read product reviews before buying products. This is a rule of thumb that you should also follow when picking the brand of hair color you want to use. Find out which brands specifically cater to natural hair. Dyes that don’t have ammonia are best since they don’t bleach your hair.
As you shop for the best brands, narrow own your color choices as well. With this in mind, identify someone (blogger, YouTuber or friend) who has the same texture as yours and has dyed their hair in your color of choice. From this, you can get an idea of how the color might turn out on your hair. Additionally, if you wear wigs or extensions, you can dye one or two and wear them to get a feel of how you will look in that color once you dye your hair. The great thing about this is that you get to save yourself from a permanent color change that you will hate afterwards.
- Research on and Choose Your Colorist
The first step in this process is the salon versus DIY debate. If it is the first time you’re coloring your hair, it’s best to go to a professional. In this case, does your salon offer professional coloring services? I underline professional because some salons offer these services although they aren’t trained to do it. Look for salon coloring reviews in your area then get a consultation with the colorist before booking an appointment. This gives the colorist an idea of what you want to achieve. It also allows you to gauge whether or not they know how to do it and whether they understand what you want.
If you do choose to go the DIY way, you need to do extensive research: read about the best way to dye natural hair and watch tutorials on how to do it. Familiarizing yourself with the process will reduce the chances of messing up your color job.
With these steps, you are on the right path to coloring your natural hair. I’ll be sharing how I color my hair at home (without bleaching) in the next post. In the meantime, have you colored your hair or are you thinking about it?