Hair Disaster! How frequently should I colour my hair?
The answer to this question will depend entirely upon what type of hair dye you are using. Lets look at the variables:
- Bleach/peroxide highlights
- All over bleach/peroxide
- Colour stripper
- Permanent hair dye
- Semi permanent hair dye
- Temporary colour/tint
- Semi-permanent intense pigments (pinks, blues, all the crazy colours!)
The fact is that all these different colouring methods have wide ranging effects on the condition of the hair shaft, from conditioning, shining and generally improving the hair, to actually damaging it so badly that it snaps off! Yes it DOES happen and its really distressing when it does....
Hair can break off with too much colouring
This happened at a salon, so you really have to be careful about what the hairdresser is willing to do. I had approached hairdressers before about getting my dark (dyed) hair stripped out and lightened, but they would not do it. The most I could get a hairdresser to do was a few highlights, but as I had a lot of hair, a few little strands didn't make much of an over all impression on the colour.
So I went to my regular salon, and a young stylist highlighted my hair with chunky lights, the strongest volume of peroxide used by that salon which was 40%. I went home, the hair dried and I realised I wasn't happy...it wasn't blonde enough. There were too many dark streaks left in the hair, and too much of the highlighted areas were still orangy, despite the application of a purple toner to lessen the orange effect. I rang her up for advice; I think I was considering going light brown, but she said come in at lunchtime, when the boss would be out, and we would 'have another go'. Oh dear, the warning bells were going off, but I wasn't listening...
HELP!!! My hair's gone ORANGE!
Bleached/peroxided hair is very porous, and quite often doesn't hold a toner for more than one wash, so using a purple toned shampoo just ensures that you have a bit of purple tone in the hair at all times and it really makes a huge difference to the look. It will eliminate brassy tones. Don't panic at the deep purple colour of the product, the effect on your hair will be subtle.
So if you really like to use your own conditioner, or you have severely damaged the hair and need to use a reconstructing conditioner or a treatment, but you still want the toner effect, use a toner dye like this one. Simply add it to your conditioner. Again, don't be alarmed by the fact that the dye appears really quite lilacy-purple; on your hair it will simply eradicate the brassy, orange tones
How to cope if you over-bleach your hair
First of all, don't panic, it's only hair. I know I'm saying that 10 months down the line from my hair disaster, but seriously, just remind yourself that things could be an awful lot worse.
Keep these things in mind:
- Purchase a good reconstructing conditioner, preferably from a salon, something well-known like Aveda or Redken. They are expensive, but so are mistakes and you need a name you can trust.
- Use a gentle shampoo, and be gentle with your hair when you use it.
- Lather your shampoo at the scalp, not the lengths, and just let the shampoo wash over the ends without rubbing or lathering them.
- DON'T comb or brush wet hair
- Always condition
- DON'T wash the hair everyday. In fact, leave it as long as possible between washes to allow the natural scalp oils to travel down the hair shaft and protect and soften it.
- Try to leave it alone as much as possible, for as long as you can. Time can help repair a little of the damage, as you condition and build up natural oils again.
How to use a reconstructing conditioner
The conditioners shown above differ from your usual regular conditioner and need to be used only once a week. I use mine still, as I haven't visited the salon for nearly a year ( I wonder why!) I enjoy my Wednesday night ritual; wash, condition, cover in a plastic hood and sleep with the conditioner on. Wash off on Thursday morning, and feel the difference!
Back to the question, how often should I highlight/peroxide?
Answer: ONCE! By which I mean make sure that hair is only exposed to peroxide once in its lifetime. As the roots grow through, you may peroxide again, but take note, roots lift very fast as they are young and fine and close to the heat of the scalp. Be really careful not to get any peroxide on the already-peroxided hair. Maybe try a high-lift tint to treat your roots, either in the salon or at home, which will do less damage than peroxiding. You can alternate these treatments, but try to leave at least 6 weeks between colourings. It gives the natural oils of the hair a chance to re-coat the hair-shaft and protect it.
How often should I colour with a permanent colour?
Hair roots can grow through after a colouring in as little as ten days. Try to keep in mind though, you see a lot more roots peering in the mirror than everyone else notices when they see you, so try not to sweat it and give your hair some time to rest between colourings. When it comes to colouring time, colour the roots ONLY. Protect the rest of the hair with a conditioner, after you have put the root colour on. This will stop colour build-up with the frequent exposure to colour on the hair shaft. Leave it at least 6 weeks, longer if you can. You can get coloured dry-shampoos that you can use to disguise roots in the mean time, or use a temporary colour instead, in between colourings. If you're doing a DIY job at home, you will be following the instructions on the box which will tell you the recommended frequency of use.
What about the other colourants?
Some semi-permanents contain ammonia, and peroxide and should be treated with the same caution as a permanent. The trick is, if you have to mix two substances together, treat with caution. A temporary colour or tint can be used as often as you like...it won't damage your hair, but you may get a dull colour-build up depending on the porosity and base colour of your hair. Some temporary colours make fantastic condition-improvers and give a lovely shiny finish. The salon is especially good at those.
How often do you colour your hair?
The psychological effects of a hair disaster
For lots of women, and some men, the appearance of their hair can be a factor affecting confidence and esteem. I took my very long, very thick curly hair for granted, and even got a little fed up with being Jil-with-all-the-hair. I was of the opinion that to care too much about your hair showed weakness, vanity and shallowness, hence I was a little too careless in leaving it in the hands of an inexperienced hairdresser, and a little too cavalier when it came to trying new cuts and colours. Well, it took a couple of hours to ruin it, but it will be more than a year before I can enjoy what I had again.
I felt vulnerable and 'not me' without my hair, and suddenly my tomboyish style became too masculine without my locks. Nothing looked right, and I suffered a little depression over the months following my dyeing and cuttng spree. It has made me feel very compassionately towards those who lose their hair to chemotherapy or alopecia, as they had it far worse than I did in all ways. I hope this hub helps anyone who is thinking of doing something radical with their hair, to think very carefully about it first, especially something chemical and damaging. If its too late and the deed is already done...stay strong, it will grow back.