Can I Color My Hair - Podcast Part II

I'm getting serious, getting even more specific about what happens to your hair when you want to bleach and even getting a little geeky with info. I've been a stylist for more 20 years, you guys. A girl can't help it.

As with my last podcast - Can I Color My Hair, Part I, there's a lot to learn and, more important to you, practical considerations to have in your back pocket when you consider changes to your hair and meeting with your trusted stylist.
Here are some brief take-aways, but I encourage you to listen to the podcast or read the transcript and then commit to a plan!

Key Counsel:

  • Use your deep conditioning treatments weekly! Don't let them die in your cabinet.

  • Use the products recommended by your stylist. These are created especially for maximum care and maintenance of colored and processed hair.

  • Condition after every shampoo to seal and protect the cuticle.

  • Use Olaplex as directed to protect and repair the disulfide bonds in your hair.

  • Turn your blow-dryer to cool. Don't damage your hair with heat.

  • If you decide to color, find a good colorist who understands your needs and concerns for your thinning hair.

  • Try to space out your chemical visits to the salon and give your fragile hair a break. Instead use fibers and root concealers during those times when you think you need to color with chemicals.

Finally, always proceed with caution when it comes to processing your fine and thinning hair. Defer to caring for what you have before considering other options.

Part two on my podcast about hair color, because I know everybody wants to color their hair and there is plenty to learn and consider. I'm going to break down some general facts about what is in and involved in coloring your hair so that you're informed when you visit your stylist.

Permanent Dyes

The use of permanent hair dyes is known as oxidation and that's because there is an oxidizer in dyes as well as hydrogen peroxide. There is also ammonia that's mixed with the coloring agent before application to your hair.

The current coloring formulation is a little on the complicated side and manufacturers really spend a lot of time and money making sure that there's minimal damage to hair. They want these dyes to add to the strength and the electricity of hair. And - because these dyes cannot be washed out, they are the best at covering gray hair, for those who have fragile thinning hair and grays to cover.

Semi-permanent dyes

If you want to try coloring that is gentle, that's when you should consider semi-permanent or temporary dyes first. One benefit is that you have a wider range of colors, and they last a little bit longer through the use of certain shampoos that are made specifically for hair color. Some of the disadvantages of semi-permanent colors are that chemicals are still used and they have to be left on for a longer period of time. These dyes can't be washed out, so if you decide that you’re not happy with the color, you have to wait it out a little bit or you’ll need to embark on color correction -- and this can be very, very damaging on fine hair.


Then there is bleach! We try to use the word lightener in the salon, because it sounds better than bleach. You all know about bleaching: a bleach is what gives us a little bit of that highlighted look and again that's because of the oxidation process. Lightening is basically just what it sounds like: a de-colorizer which removes the color from the pigment of your hair, and it is possible to get hair almost white if you have the right type of hair. It is, however, very rare that we take somebody white unless you're really going for that platinum look and that look is very hard to achieve. It has a lot to do with the keratin fibers of your hair which are actually very naturally a pale yellow. So if you want to get your hair white, white, white you have to remove all of the pigment.

And just so you know - hydrogen peroxide is a chemical that is in bleach and it is very, very damaging on hair. Some manufacturers will say that they have peroxide-free formulas, but there’s just NO hair-friendly bleach out there. Sorry, but it's just not true. Bleaching to me is something that causes the hair the most damage, because it definitely breaks the disulfide bonds; we stylists really have to get harsh on the cuticle of the hair and it is just not an ideal thing to ever do at home or to have done at the salon frequently.

When you have fine hair and you're trying to take care of your hair using a gentle hair care method, you have to stay away from bleach as long as you possibly can. You have to be vigilant. You cannot be re-booking every four weeks for color and highlights. If you have a stylist who thinks you should have your highlights done all the time, no no no!!

You want the most longevity on those highlights, so maybe twice a year for highlights, maybe three times a year, but certainly not at every appointment. Damage from bleach means brittle hair, it means inelastic hair and it means that your hair is more prone to breakage and split ends. Your hair is also more porous and it gets swollen when bleached which makes it more vulnerable to other chemical and non-chemical processes; this includes everything from straightening your hair to heat styling.

Heat styling & Care

In the salon, we see a lot of people with bleached out hair and they're using hot tools like curling and flat irons on a regular basis. They have hair loss and it is real, true hair loss. They often don't understand what's going on with their hair, but it's because it’s bleached and they’re constantly using heating tools.

That hair damage can be fixed. You can change the protein structure of your hair, but the more you bleach or highlight your hair the more damage you’ll see. I personally have fine and thinning hair and I do bleach my hair - maybe twice a year at the most. I just try to do my roots in the salon and then I bleach, but I also use Olaplex like a maniac at home. I probably sleep in Olaplex at least once a month, and that is at a minimum. I use protein treatments, I use my Renée Furterer Triphasic. I use sealants like my yummy deep conditioning treatment and I am really taking good care of the hair fiber. I apply the gentle hair care method to my hair all the time! I wouldn't recommend this type of care if I wasn't sure of the benefits.

When you have fine hair and you're frustrated with it and want to change it you need to remember that going from dark to light is very hazardous because you have to use bleach. The more you are switching up your hair color or changing things up, the more damage that you're going to do to the condition of your hair.

Gentle hair care means you need to chill with the constant hair color. Instead, try to use root sprays and root powders in between salon visits and go as long as you possibly can between appointments for chemical processes. Don't ask for highlights all the time on those fine, fragile cuticles of the hair. Know that those keratin fibers are just a delicate fabric and that chemical damage and environmental damage is a real thing.

I am not ever going to say that you cannot color your hair if it’s thinning, but if you do color your hair you have to approach it with caution and go to a good colorist who’s going to agree to take the best care of your hair and use those products that are made specifically for us as colorists to take care of you.

One more little point to help you protect the hair you have from brittleness and breakage when you’re coloring your thin hair:

  • Use a deep conditioning treatment once a week; Don’t keep these products under the sink, languishing; those products seal the hair and seal the cuticle to make the hair shinier and stronger. They don’t get inside the hair, but they are very important for protecting your hair.

  • Use something like Olaplex. It is not a conditioner; it’s a disulfide bond multiplier and strengthens the hair, creates volume and it can actually get inside the hair cuticle.

  • Condition after every shampoo to flatten the cuticle and seal in the moisture. It helps with knots in the hair, and will add shine.

  • Turn your blowdryer to the cool mode. Don’t go crazy with the heat.

  • Use professional products!

Remember finally, that you’re going to be assaulted by pollution every day. You go in and out of central heat and air, plus in and out of the wind and sun. All of these factors can affect the quality and health of your hair. Do your best to protect your hair, especially when you’re coloring it.