Can I Color My Hair - Podcast Part I
Here's a new podcast about a FAQ I get in the salon all the time: Can I color my thinning hair. I hope you'll take a little time to listen to this, to take notes, make some decisions for yourself and then have an honest conversation with your trusted hair stylist.
Hair color is a billion dollar industry and the options are seemingly endless... demi-permanent hair color, semi-permanent and permanent, trendy lighteners, etc.
And what about the damage of coloring transitioning hair due to your age, or hair that is thin, fine or otherwise compromised?
Multiple processes, should you decide you have a specific look you want to achieve, will mean spending more money, but it will also mean that you need a Take Home Plan that you commit to. Get the right maintenance products and follow through after you leave the salon.
My number one bit of counsel will always be to take care of the hair you have on your head.
Lots to unpack here! Listen and do what's right for you.
And keep your ears primed for Part II about coloring thinning hair......!
I’m driving this morning and wanted to talk about a great question that I get all the time: can I color my hair when my hair is thinning? For me personally, I'm not really doing much color in the salon anymore, in order to make way for all my thinning hair assessments, but I still do color people’s hair.
Hair color is a billion-dollar industry. It is a science. It’s unbelievable the amount of research and development that goes into hair color. That said, it still can be damaging on certain types of hair, but hair color is also something that can give fine, limp hair a lot of benefits.
So, to start, you have traditional hair color - which is your demi-permanence, your semi-permanence, your permanent color and then you have your lighteners. And then of course your fashion shades that you're seeing all around that everybody's wearing… like rainbow hair.
When you want to take gentle care of your hair and you go to a hairdresser, you're concerned always about the cost. Now I have lotta clients who say, “really it's no big deal; do whatever you need to do to make my hair look exactly the way I want it to look, and so that it looks expensive and not cheap, and in a way that takes the best possible care of my hair that's on my head.”
Well to tell you completely honestly, that requires money, effort, and a hairstylist who has the knowledge of color and also has a knowledge of hair - to understand what's going to happen to the hair once you color it and then what you need to do to make that hair then feel touchable, look shiny, be healthy along this process.
So, the gentlest things that you can do to your hair are semi-permanence and demi-permanence. Those are temporary. They don't go inside the hair shaft. They don't really change the hair too much, but they are still putting a chemical on the hair. Some of the benefits of these options are that you get a nice shine to the hair, you get to play with your color a little bit, but they don’t really give your hair volume or shine and really - at the end of the day - you don't get a ton of gray coverage when you're using the demi-permanent or semi-permanent colors.
When you start out, when you are a little bit lighter to begin with, you might get some of that result. When you’re really dark and you're trying to cover dark hair and gray hair at the same time, you have to compromise some of your gray coverage if that's what you're seeking when you're using demi-permanent color.
Then you move into permanent hair color. Most permanent hair colors have an ammonia in them or ammonia derivative that kind of work to lift up the cuticle and let the hair color penetrate in and then permanently alter the hair with another color. Permanent hair color can be damaging over a long period of use, and it also can be a little bit of a nuisance. It can itch your scalp; some people develop sensitivity to it. It is an agitator – it’s on there and it's exfoliating the scalp and agitating the scalp and agitating the hair. So bear this in mind when you’re considering color.
You also have lighteners and high-lifting color. Let’s talk about lighteners, because that’s really just a fancy word for bleach. When you bleach your hair and use that chemical on your hair you can probably imagine that it is the upmost damaging and aggressive thing that you can do to your hair.
When get older and you go from darker hair to lighter hair, one of the things that you want to do is integrate some of the new lightness with the darkness. So maybe you add a couple highlights to the hair making everything look very blendy, making it look very natural and very youthful. But you have to trust your hairstylist when they tell you that they need to take additional steps to make the hair feel healthy again.
So if you are the profile of a client who wants to do permanent hair color on the roots to cover gray and then do highlights on the additional hair you're going to have to always put a glaze, a gloss, a toner on the ends of the hair that have been highlighted, because one – you’re bleaching your hair shaft out, you're breaking the disulfide bonds, you’re impairing the cuticle, you are doing all sorts of damage to the actual hair shaft, and then you have to kind of fill back in that hair color by glazing it. You have to help bring the pH down - you have to create a sealant on the hair again, so the hair isn’t just left wide open with all sorts of environmental damage ready to happen.
In the salon, people come in, they show us all sorts of pictures of hair that the beautiful, shiny, healthy, very blended, a beautiful warm or an ashen toned blonde and we’ll tell them what it's going to take to get there and the steps that we have to use. And a lot of people start to nickel and dime: they don’t want a toner or they don’t want this… well you’re never going to get the hair you want unless you do some of these additional steps.
Most people are getting 3 or 4 different things. You’re not getting permanent hair color on your roots and then permanent hair color on your ends. In our salon, we’re perhaps using permanent color on the roots if we’re covering grays and maybe a semi-permanent on the ends to take the best care of the cuticle. Then if you're getting highlights were always going to “glaze you down” and we’ve started adding Olaplex on all of their colors. [I did a blog post about Olaplex to help you understand that this is not a conditioning treatment. I like describing it to my clients as children on the school bus. Your hair is the child and the Olaplex is the school bus and it is helping take the best care of your hair when it's going through a chemical process because it’s helping to rebuild the bond that you're actively breaking while you’re coloring your hair.
Most importantly, everything requires some kind of follow through. If you're not at home using suggested products that are really good for the pH of the hair, using conditioners that are suited for your hair type that are going to help create a seal and then using other products like an Olaplex or something that is more of a medical grade that actually helps repair the hair--- then you are never going to be happy with how your hair feels over a prolonged period of time. This is especially true if you're coloring hair that is thin and fine or compromised in any way.
So, yes you can color your hair.
Yes, it can be damaging.
However you can do coloring if you have a plan in place to be compliant and take the best care of the hair that you have in your head.
Yes, it's going to cost you some money. Is it worth it? Absolutely! If you’re coloring your hair, you have to have a Take Home Plan. You have to actually have these hair products at your house, follow what your stylist tells you to do, use them as directed and follow through with your plan. Don’t just abandon them in the graveyard of products. This plans means you are taking the best care of the hair you have on your head, because that is part of gentle hair care.
How can you fight thinning hair? Well the number one thing you can do is to take the best care of the hair you have on your head.
If you decide to ditch hair color altogether, I'm a total advocate for that. I believe in the cold turkey method. I believe you don't create more intervention.
Don't ask your stylist to give you a bunch of highlights. You just have to go cold turkey. It's the best for your hair - and no gray hair or silver hair ever looks good up against a bunch of warm grown out hair color. Once you actually want to cut all that existing hair off, you will be left with something shiny and beautiful.
Make the best choices for your hair and use gentle hair care. If you want to color your hair, have a Take Home Plan in place. Use the general hair care method all the time, spend some money, listen to your trusted hair stylist’s advice about all these things that they have to do on your hair.
As I said, hair color is a billion-dollar industry and we stylists can achieve the results, but 1) it could take time and 2) it could take additional services. Finally if you wanna go gray, go gray, but do it cold turkey and don't worry about quitting the intervention and what it might do to your hair. You can do it!