Gone are the days where your only non-toxic hair coloring options were lemon juice and a bright summer day or henna and a whole lot of mess. As hair color technology grows and works to meet the demands of a more health conscious society, more people are having fun and getting spicy with their hair color. But color-treated hair has special needs to keep it healthy and prolong the life of your color.
Lightened or "bleached" hair
When you lighten your hair, you are stripping out the melanin that gives your hair its natural color. This lightening process opens up the cuticle of your hair strands and initially creates a more coarse but sometimes more easily styled head of hair. Repeated lightening of your hair can actually cause it to become weak, brittle, and over-processed, especially if you're rocking that super light platinum look.
Lightened hair runs the risk of discoloration, too. Swimming in a chlorinated pool can turn it green, that's not an urban legend, but typical washing, styling and exposure to the elements can take your vibrant tresses from crisp and cool to brassy or ashy. To keep your hair color from turning, use a shampoo and conditioner with a vegetable based blue tint to counteract any discoloration.
The open cuticle of lightened hair means your hair is more porous, and in turn, repeated lightening treatments means your hair eventually becomes brittle. In this case, you need to baby your hair. Wash and towel dry your lovely locks gently, because haphazardly yanking and bending your hair will cause more breakage.
Moisturizing your hair will help prevent it from breaking, to some degree, but don't get overzealous with your lightening treatments because at a certain point the damage to your hair so intense that it just breaks right off. Yes, really. Split ends are the beginning of this process. Consider using a keratin-based serum to smooth the cuticles and protect the strands.
You can also make your own nourishing plant-based hair mask that will do the job as well, if not better!
Plant-based DIY hair mask
- 1/2 ripe avocado (very soft, no firmness)
- 1/2 over-ripe banana
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
Hand mash avocado and banana until smooth, then add coconut oil and blend. Apply with hands, staring at the ends (avoid the scalp if you are pone to oiliness) and distribute evenly with a wide-tooth comb. Let sit for 20 minutes and rinse thoroughly.
Color-treated hair is the opposite of lightened hair, because instead of removing color, pigment is being deposited into the open porous strands. In this case, what you face is your beautiful, rich color fading away into something reminiscent of the flat, fake colors of yesteryear. When you first color your hair, it's smooth and silky, like you stepped right out of a shampoo advertisement. But additives in shampoo, the effects of heat styling and even UV rays from sunlight will take its toll.
Keeping your color vibrant is more about prevention than correction. Make sure you use shampoo that's safe for color treated hair. These shampoos will prevent the color from being stripped over time.
Although it kind of sounds silly, you can get sunblock for your hair. If you are someone that participates in a lot of outdoor sports or just like to spend their days poolside, use a UV protective spray or serum for your hair to keep the sun from fading your color.
And when it comes to all of those curling irons, straightener irons, crimping irons, and marathon blow drying session, use a heat-styling mousse, spray or serum every time to ensure that your hair is protected from these hot-as-fire beauty tools.
Sure, the hair color you were born with is great, but it changing your hair color is a fun way to express your personality and creativity. Don't let your time, energy, and money go to waste and protect your artistic endeavor.