By Jc of The Natural Haven
Click here for part 1.
*Editor’s Note: The British spelling of the world color is used throughout this article.
In the first part, I discussed what is actually in bleach and permanent hair dye that allows hair to change colour. The next step is to understand theprocess and why certain tests are necessary before your hair is coloured. Here is what you should expect from a professional salon.
What to do before colouring your hair
Before dyeing your hair, you will need to do a sensitivity test/patch test and a strand test. A sensitivity test involves applying a small amount of the hair dye to be used usually behind your ear. After 24–48 hours (yes that means you go home), you can proceed with the colour application provided you have not experienced any adverse reactions to the hair dye ingredients (swelling/ itching/ redness). Some people are sensitive to hair dyes and reactions can be very severe (hospitalisation and even death). Never skip the patch test.
A strand test is compulsory for any colourist worth their salt. This is a test on your hair — usually snipping a few strands and testing them in thedye/bleach. This hair is tested to see the colour result that can be achieved and more importantly if the hair is susceptible to serious damage. Normallythe colourist will try to see how much force is needed to snap the hair or if the hair disintegrates due to bleach or high pH (which is not uncommon if thehair is damaged or has been previously coloured).
Some hair cannot withstand bleaching or permanent hair dye. This is not a flaw or a mark of damage, it is just the case that some hair simply is not suited to the commercial dye process. A good colourist will refuse to dye your hair if they can predict that your will be damaged seriously as a result.
Going from dark to light
It is generally not recommended to attempt to bleach from a very dark colour (e.g black) to a very light colour (e.g light brown or blonde) in one sitting. Often a good colourist will try to lift the colour gradually over a course of a few weeks. Hair bleach is generally not kept on hair for more than 10–20 minutes in the interest of reducing damage to hair and your scalp. Keeping bleach for longer can induce a strong burning sensation. However, this time period (20 minutes) is not usually enough to dye hair from black to blonde. Further processing can be done on hair in a few weeks provided the hair is strong enough to withstand further bleaching (i.e a new strand test will be performed).
Post colour/bleach care
Permanently dyed hair or bleached hair will tend to have a compromised cuticle as the process requires the cuticle to be lifted. As a result it may be more difficult to maintain moisture and sometimes humectants such as glycerin can actually lift the hair dye. Semi permanent dye will tend to fade with every wash which may make some people want to reduce frequency of washing which may further impact moisture levels.
It is important to do regular conditioning with a product intended for coloured hair (which will normally contain ingredients that do not interfere with thecolour/preserve hair colour). Protein treatments may also help both in filling gaps in the cuticle and also with moisture retention.
Bleached hair is mechanically weaker and it is therefore important to be more careful than usual when handling hair (during washing, detangling and styling).
Ladies, how do you manage your colour treated hair?