Healthy Hair…Healthy Color?

Summer hair is often associated with beach waves and sun-kissed strands. It’s no surprise that many women like to dye or highlight their hair bronze, blonde, or gold during this time of year. Even though coloring one’s hair can be an exciting change and offer something different, we are also reminded that if one isn’t careful, that it can also cause a setback.

Yet, the woman who loves coloring her hair may ask, “Does it always have to be this way? Is it possible to dye or highlight one’s hair and keep it healthy at the same time?” We’ve all seen someone who seemed to get that perfect golden hue or to-die-for red and still retain shiny, thick hair. How do they do it? First, it’s important to understand what hair dye does to our hair so that we can protect it against any negative effects.

Most permanent hair colors contain ammonia and peroxide. Ammonia is responsible for lifting the hair shaft and allowing the color to penetrate the hair, and peroxide is responsible for breaking down chemical bonds in hair in order to deposit the new color. This process, when overdone or done incorrectly, can lead to the common problems of dryness and breakage.

In order to keep your hair at its optimum health when dyeing, there are a few key steps you can take in order to protect against a setback. First, before coloring, try using a light protein treatment on your hair. This will help because the hair dye will manipulate your hair’s protein bonds, so a treatment that would strengthen those bonds will aid in protecting against breakage. Second, after coloring your hair, be sure to deep condition so that your hair won’t be dry or brittle. If you can help it, minimize your use of heat. If you are relaxed, you may want to go for a semi-permanent or gloss instead of a permanent formula.

There are also natural alternatives to coloring hair such as henna (make sure it’s art quality and pure), and a henna-indigo combination for darkening hair. There are also other “plant based” natural dyes on the rise.

Always remember to follow the instructions on the packaging, and don’t neglect your patch test to make sure there won’t be any allergic reactions. When in doubt, go to a professional colorist!

Although hair color results will vary among person, everyone can at least keep the above tips in mind when choosing to highlight or dye. It’s possible to have healthy colored hair, but it will take work…and gentle care.