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(Almost) everything you need to know about hair colour.

Continuing on with my mission to share all of your hairdressers’ secrets, this post is to fill you in on (almost) everything you need to know about hair colour.  This is generally stuff that should be shared with you during a consultation.  If you’re not going through a certain type of process why would you know how it works? So, I’ll cover the things I most frequently have to explain to clients, and attempt to make sense of the key secrets behind professional hair colour.

Tint can't lift tint

This is basic hair colouring 101.  The first thing any hairdresser is taught – other than how to go 10 hours without peeing – is that tint can’t lift tint.  Tint is a colour that deposits, it’s different to a lightener (commonly referred to as bleach, which is actually what you put down the toilet). Essentially any colour that isn’t blonde is usually done with a tint.  Which is typical, as blonde is the colour you won’t really be asking to go lighter with. 

The reason this is important is because if you go to your salon for your regular 6-week regrowth top up on your medium brown hair and say you want it to be a couple of shades lighter, your stylist will not be as willing as you might hope.  It’s not a simple case of just choosing the lighter shade of brown you’ve taking a liking to and applying it to your hair.  If your hairdresser did that, you’d get what we call a ‘band’.  This refers to an area of lighter colour.  Which unless tended to will just remain in your hair as your hair grows out.

If you want to change your colour on your regular appointment, let them know in advance

If you do think you would like to enjoy a lighter hair colour for a while, then discuss it with your stylist prior to booking so they can allow time for it.  This can be a relatively easy, or incredibly painful process depending on your colour history.   You will have to have some of the colour removed, usually done with a lightener as gently as possible, before the new colour can be put on. 

If your stylist knows your colour history then they will be able to advise accordingly.  If you are going to a new person for this process, they will ask a lot of questions about what you’ve used previously as this does affect the result.  Which brings me to my next point…

If you lie about your hair colour history, your stylist will know

Sorry if that sounds a big aggressive. Please don’t lie to your hairdresser about anything hair related.  It’s for your benefit as much as anything.  I only feel the need to include this point because it happens surprisingly often.  I understand that it may be a case of just really wanting something done and thinking that omitting a few details may make a stylist more inclined to do it.  And it might.  But it might lead to disastrous results.

As we’ve just discovered tint doesn’t lift tint.  Even if that tint is ‘semi-permanent’ or ‘temporary’, the same rules apply.  So do not say you have never coloured your hair.  You are totally forgiven for thinking that the brown that isn’t too dissimilar to your natural that you put on two years ago won’t make any difference.  But it really will.  You need to be 100% open and honest with your stylist (to the best of your knowledge).  So that they can do everything right to give you the hair colour you dream of.

They make take a strand of your hair to test if you have a heavy history of colour.  Don’t worry this is completely normal.  It means they can experiment with your hair risk-free and decide if the process necessary is suitable. Because sometimes…

Sometimes your hair will say no

Hair is fragile. We need to treat it with love and care, and in return it will treat us to many years of feeling fabulous.  Over processing is a term that basically means you’ve over done it.  If a hairdresser says your hair can’t handle a process, then trust them.  Lightener behaves differently to colour.  As we have established, it’s obviously more powerful than tint as it is used to remove pigment from the hair.  Unlike tint, it doesn’t know when to stop.  It literally keeps removing and removing until it has removed all the pigment and goodness from your hair and your hair begins to break. 

Going darker is easier than going lighter

With all that in mind about tint not being able to remove tint and lightener being a product to be used carefully.  The process of taking your hair darker is much simpler than getting it lighter.  Again, it is worth letting your stylist know that you will be looking to have this change prior to booking your appointment.  There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, if you are going from highlights to an all over tint a skin test will be required 48 hours prior to your appointment.  I know this is actually quite annoying as a customer.  But as a stylist it prevents anything going horribly wrong.  

Also, it can be a double process colour.  This means a colour will be applied, removed, dried, prior to your final colour being applied.  This makes quite a difference in the time required to do your colour.  Giving your stylist a heads up mainly means they are ready for you, and have plenty of time to give you the perfect colour.  The reason for this is that going blonde removes pigment, so to go dark, you need to put that pigment back in the hair.  This is called pre-pigmenting.  Have you ever heard of someone dying their hair dark and it going green? That’s why.

That's almost everything you need to know about hair colour

Hopefully those few points will help you navigate the confusing world of professional hair colour.  There’s a lot still to cover.  Which I’ll get around to in another post, I’m sure.  The ultimate thing to remember about professional hair colour is that it is just that.  Professional.  This post was in no way written to help you in your home colouring endeavours.  It’s to help understand that there is a process to hair colouring that is often not seen as a client.  It’s easy to think that it’s simple given that your hairdresser just disappears for about 10 minutes and appears with a bowl of colour to apply.  There is a science involved.  Some top colourists are absolute geniuses that I remain in awe of.

So, good luck.  I wish you many happy hair days.  As always, any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the social media links below.  If you’re still looking for the perfect hairdresser then see my previous post on that subject here.  Alternatively, if you struggle to talk to your stylist about your dream colour, see here.

The Hair Bones.

Photo by Ankit Sinha on Unsplash

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