The 5 Best-Kept Secrets on How to Get Perfect Hair Color Every Time

Photo Credits: Getty Images | Model Used for Illustrative Purpose Only

The key to good color definitely lies in your stylist, but it also has something to do with the current state of your hair right before you color it. Because if your hair isn’t in in good condition, your color may not end up being what you want it to be. Rather than applying color to dry, damaged hair, which never equates to anything good, follow these tips straight from the expert, and start them about two to three weeks before you get your hair colored—they’re especially beneficial when you’re making a major color change.

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Wash with a clarifying shampoo.
According to Tiffanie Richards, colorist at Nunzio Saviano Salon, when a big change is desired (like going from dark to light), a clarifying shampoo should be used to help remove any extra buildup in the hair. “Buildup such as mineral deposits from water and products can fade color a bit,” she says. 

Use a hair oil.
Before you color your hair, you want to make sure it’s super hydrated. One of the best ways to add moisture to hair is with oil. “Using a hair oil regularly helps to restore moisture and strengthen hair, keeping it damage-free and prepping it for the typically drying color process,” says Fran Miller, founder of F. Miller. “If the scalp is dry and irritated, the coloring process will likely cause further irritation. Our Hair Oil ($48) doubles as a hydrating leave-in treatment, ideally done two to three days prior to color. The healing botanicals will help soothe the sensitive skin beneath the hair in addition to conditioning the hair itself.”

Add vitamin E to deep conditioners.
Sharon Dorram, master colorist at Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon, says that one of the best ways to prep hair for a big color change is by regularly using deep-conditioning treatments to ensure that hair can tolerate the bleach or dye. To make the conditioner work even better, she likes to add a few drops of liquid vitamin E to the treatment for added nourishment. “Depending on how processed your hair already is, determines the amount of vitamin E that needs to be added. If your hair is very porous, I recommend using straight vitamin E on dry hair as an overnight mask so hair becomes more elastic.”

Limit how often you wash your hair.
It’s a given that washing your hair every day will strip it of its natural oils, leaving it dull and potentially dry. So when you’re prepping your hair for your next color appointment, Spencer O’Shaw, educator for VERB, says to follow the same rule of thumb and keep shampooing to a minimum. “You can rinse your hair when showering to remove dirt and excess oil. Try using a dry shampoo, like VERB Dry Shampoo ($14) to help extend days between washing,” he adds. Colorist Lawrence Wesley at Antonio Prieto Salon, says not to shampoo for three or four days before the service to prevent scalp irritation and allow the natural oils to act as an emollient during the color process.

Avoid heat as much as possible.
If you have to resort to using a blowdryer or curling or straightening iron (it’s best to bypass them whenever you can), make sure you apply a heat protectant to your strands first. “Also, try using lower heat. Turn your blowdryer down to medium instead of high or dial the wand from 400 to 325,” says O’Shaw.

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