(via The Science of Black Hair)

Color-treated hair requires superior care, especially if it is double-processed (color + relaxer). Taking the color plunge will change the way your hair feels and looks. Besides an obvious color change, color-treated hair tends to feel drier, coarser and thicker than normal hair because of the work done on the cuticle and inner layers of the hair shaft. Wetting color-treated hair often reveals its vulnerable nature. Most permanent hair color users will find that their hair cannot get enough protein, yet will err on the side of parched without much trouble.

Color-treating the hair (with permanent colors) exasperates the porosity issues felt by those with chemical relaxers. The coloring process attacks the hair's internal keratin protein structure-making it less supple and less resistant breakage. This attack on the hair's natural keratin proteins and cuticle increases the hair's porosity and lessens its ability to accept and hold onto moisture. Restoring the tightness of the cuticle will not only protect your color, but will reduce the dryness associated with hair coloring and restore the overall integrity of your hair. Here are some hair coloring protective measures you can take!

Protective Measures and First Steps

1.) Is it the RIGHT TIME to color?

As a rule of thumb, color treatments should be applied no sooner than 2 weeks following a chemical relaxer treatment. The common saying is that you "color a relaxer, not relax a color." Any sooner than the safe 2 week window, and the physical assault on the hair cuticle and shaft itself becomes entirely too much for the hair withstand. With damage on the cuticle to this degree, breakage is imminent.

Relaxers are stronger chemicals than colors, so you want to apply the relaxer to hair that is already as strong as it can be. Use the two week (or longer) window between your relaxer and color to rebuild your hair with mild protein treatments and deep moisturizing conditioning treatments.

Additionally, remember to protect your older color-treated hair during future relaxer applications by applying oil or Vaseline to the length of your hair that is not currently being chemically relaxed. You should already be doing this prior to relaxing the hair whether you are color treated or not.

2.) Is my hair strong and in OPTIMAL condition?

Before coloring the hair, make sure that it is in optimal condition. Do not color hair that is breaking or shedding heavily. Coloring damaged hair will not give you the color results you desire, and will only make matters worse.

3.) Have I prepped my hair for this hair color?

Several days before coloring your hair, deep condition your hair with a moisture/protein mix. Your mix should be moisture heavy. A well conditioned head of hair, with the right mix of gentle protein structuring, provides the best environment for color attachment. Additionally, the conditioning will fortify the hair against assault from the color chemicals.

Also, try using a chelating shampoo to lift mineral deposits from the shaft prior to coloring. This will assist with the penetration of the color and give you longer lasting results. Joico and Kenra make great chelating shampoos, and a formula will tell you if it chelates minerals.

4.) Am I taking a huge color leap with this hair color?

Stay away from drastic color leaps! Experts suggest that 1 to 2 levels is a fairly safe range for color change! If you are not familiar with the coloring process, allow a professional to do the service.

5.) Have I considered a color rinse?

Color rinses, or deposit only colors, can actually cure porosity problems temporarily. They are much safer than permanent colors and involve little color risk. Rinses bind to the outer cuticle layers of the hair and can reinforce weak points much like protein reconstructors do. They are great for enhancing a natural color, or going a bit darker. Applying a color rinse over a permanent color job, a week or two after the session, will help protect the cuticle and prolong the life of your color. If you do not wish to change the color of your hair or your permanent color job, opt for a clear rinse. The protective effects of these rinses are lost after several washes.

Good luck! If you are a do-it-yourselfer, and you make a color mistake-- do not be afraid to see a professional colorist. Do not rely on yourself to fix the mess!


Written by SoVAiN Williams — May 24, 2012

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