Coloring natural hair can be done but you have to know what you are doing.
1. You can use at-home dye if you're going for a one-dimensional dark hue. At-home dyes have come a long way over the past two decades. If you're going light, box dye won't be your best option, but, says Alvarez, "it's perfectly fine and more cost-effective to use for a darker color."
2. You should also buy several boxes of color just to be safe. "You don't want to be left with a section of hair that's not colored due to lack of product," she says. "Almost every woman underestimates the thickness of her hair."
3. Go for gel and liquid color formulas if you're going DIY. They're the best for full coverage, whereas foam formulas often don't penetrate densely curled strands well.
4. But you should make a visit to the salon if you want to lighten your hair. Everyone's hair is structured differently, and the exact formulation to achieve a multi-dimensional color may be complicated, but a professional who's well-versed in color will adapt to the actual tones of your hair, according to Daugherty.
5. Go slow and steady with the dyeing process so as not to affect your curl pattern. If your color is done the right way, your curls should remain intact. However, Alvarez cautions that lightening your hair extensively in one session can cause hair damage that could affect your coils. The bigger the difference in your natural hair color and your desired shade, the more likely it is that you'll experience a (temporary) loss of elasticity and loosened curl pattern.
6. All hail balayage. "Balayage highlights are the choice of many curly girls because you can go longer in between touch-ups," Alvarez
says. Plus, they give you that sexy, lived-in look.
7. Blondes do have more fun, but the integrity and strength of your hair will change. Daugherty breaks it down: "To achieve a platinum blonde hair color, for example, you must perform multiple processes, use higher volume developers, and have longer processing times, all of which can become a recipe for disaster."
This is where the expertise of a stylist comes into play. He or she can establish a prolonged dyeing regimen with you to eventually lift you to your desired color, as well as provide some highlight techniques that will offset a great deal of damage. Once you've become blonde, protective styles - such as box braids, chignons, or cornrows - will give your strands a much-needed break after intense dyeing.
8. Skip the shampoo before you dye. What you've heard is true: You shouldn't wash your hair before dyeing it. "Dirty hair is ideal for color application," says Alvarez. "The natural oils on your scalp act as a buffer between your scalp and the chemicals in the formula, so skip the shampoo a day before you plan to color."
9. Regular deep-conditioning is a must. Color-treated hair needs a little extra TLC, so both Alvarez and Daugherty recommend deep conditioning at least once a week and investing in some high-quality hair oils. Says Daugherty: "Wrap your hair in plastic wrap and leave your treatment on for at least 20 minutes. Apply heat if possible for maximum results. Rinse and style as usual."
10. Use a color-preserving shampoo to protect your hair after you dye it. Most color-preserving shampoos are free of stripping chemicals like sulfates, and they have a lightweight layer of protection that will prevent your color from bleeding out.
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