Coloring Curly Hair

coloring natural hairIt’s summer and you may be out and about more often, so you may be thinking of changing your style a bit. I get the urge every few years to change up my hair color. Fortunately, there are a ton of ways to change up your hair color. Remember, dyeing any type of hair may involve a chemical process that should be taken seriously. Check out a few options for coloring your curls below:

Permanent Hair Color  

There are 3 main types of color—permanent, semi or demi permanent, and temporary. Permanent color requires the hair cuticle to be lifted and alters the proteins that give us our natural hair color. If you’re doing a permanent color, you may only want to go 2-3 shades lighter or darker to avoid some risk of permanent damage. However, if your hair is naturally dark, coloring hair very light is always a risk.

With permanent color, hair must be bleached, usually with ammonia to “decolorize” the hair, then add the lighter color to the “blank slate.” Hair that is dark typically bleaches to an orange or yellow stage and the colorist must have a grasp of color theory to know what colors to deposit on hair to remove the unwanted yellow or orange tone. This is pure chemistry and a good reason why it’s advised to get permanent color done by a professional.

Ammonia in products assist in the coloring process by opening cuticle and swelling the strands so that the color can penetrate to the cortex. Without ammonia, color change is mild and may require multiple applications to achieve desired color. This is due to the fact that the color more likely will coat the strands as opposed to being absorbed into the strand because there isn’t a stimulant used to open the cuticle.

There are ammonia free products on the market but be aware of ammonia substitutes like ethanolamine, also known as monoethanolamine or MEA. These are equally, if not more, damaging to the hair.

Temporary Hair Color

Temporary color puts a layer of color on top of the hair strand. These are usually sold as “rinses,” and will fade with 6-8 shampoos. This is the way to go if you want to go with a color that is less drastic or you want to do-it-yourself.

Natural alternatives to hair color

There are plenty of options to naturally and organically color your natural hair including; henna, nutmeg, tomato, hibiscus, honey, tea, etc. One of the most popular natural methods is Henna, which will give your hair a red tint.   Henna is a plant native to subtropical regions of Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia that you typically see used as body art. It’s available in the US in many African or Asian markets as well as online. When buying henna be sure to look for “Body Art Quality Henna” and at least 100 g. Be cautious of any package claims to color hair blonde or black, it is not natural henna.

If you’re looking for something very temporary and easy, use a little cream or liquid eye shadow. You can experiment with many different colors and wash it out the same day without the risk of permanent damage.

To extend the life of your color, be sure to check out my tips for After Color Care.


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