Dyeing your hair is super fun and I definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested or curious (because you only live once and it's just hair!). However, there are definitely a few things you must know before coloring — or at least a few things I definitely wish I had known — that will make the transition way easier.
I've said it before — I have literally had almost every hair color imaginable. And I've dyed it myself, paid lots of money to have it done at a salon, toned it, highlighted it, low-lighted it... seriously everything. So I basically now know what to expect from most colors and chemical processes.
However, when I first started dyeing my hair I genuinely was surprised by certain changes I noticed; for the first time I understood why there were a million different products in the haircare aisle for things like color protection and color-treated hair. As much as I love doing it, dyeing your hair can require some serious maintenance and can also definitely take a toll on you hair health overall.
So in the spirit of being totally transparent about what you can expect, here are nine things everyone should know before dyeing their hair.
1. It Will Change The Texture (And That's Not Necessarily Bad)
In an article for Cosmopolitan, hair stylist Kari Hill said that after dyeing your hair you'll likely notice that it's more voluminous, meaning that you also will likely find it easier to style. My hair absolutely has more volume and texture when dyed, so it makes my medium-fine hair look fuller. However, the definite flip side of this is that after enough dye jobs and layers of process, my hair can begin to feel dry and damaged. So my personal advice is to limit how many times you dye the same area.
2. Sadly, It Will Fade
This is a fact that I heard a million times before dyeing my hair, but I just didn't fully get how bothersome it is until I actually experienced it for myself. You start off with a hair color that you're crazy about, only to notice that in a few weeks it starts to fade or get a little brassy, and in a few more weeks the difference is even more dramatic. In a piece for Real Simple, hair stylist Jasen James said to not wash your hair at least a full day after coloring, and then only every two or three days after that to help preserve the color. Additionally, color specialist Amanda Paul said to wet your hair before going into the pool or ocean, as, “Hair acts like a sponge. If it’s wet, it can’t absorb chlorine or the salt water and will fade less.”
3. You'll Need To Invest In Special Shampoos
Leap-frogging off the whole "it will fade thing," is the fact that you should expect to invest in color preserving shampoos and conditioners, which are usually more costly than your regular old products. In the same Real Simple piece, Shayla Crawford, lead colorist at Astrids Day Spa, explained that products designed for color-treated hair "are designed to keep the hair shafts closed, and that keeps color in."
4. Re-Dyeing It A New Color Is Complicated
If your hair is already dyed, dyeing it a new color is not as simple as just choosing the next color you want, as hair dye reacts very differently to color-treated hair as compared to hair that is totally natural. In a piece for Everyday Health, director of color for Salon Ziba in New York City Izabela Saboski stressed that when coloring or re-coloring at home, always consult the letters and numbers on the hair dye box instead of the picture, as they'll give you a much better indication of what the dye will do to your hair specifically (for example, an ash will reduce warm or orange tones, a copper will enhance them, etc).
5. Going Blonde Is Kind Of Hard
In a piece for SheKnows.com, celebrity colorist and blonde expert Rick Wellman noted that "going blond requires maintenance," and that, "typically, going blonde requires higher levels of ammonia or bleaching products. You will notice a texture change in your hair that most likely will require less shampooing and more conditioning." He also said that certain hair types can only achieve blonde through lots and lots of highlights, as opposed to through a single process dye job.
I personally found keeping the orange and brassy tones out of my dyed blonde hair to be a constant and eternal struggle, and it was likely made worse by the fact that my hair had already had several layers of dye underneath it.
6. Don't Wash Your Hair Beforehand
In a piece for InStyle, colorist James Corbett of the James Corbett Studio in New York City said to not wash your hair a day or two before dyeing, as "the scalp's natural oils work as a buffer to prevent irritation," and that "it's also much easier to section second day hair, which ensures even color distribution." So forgo the shampoo!
7. Keep Hair Treatments On Hand
The InStyle round-up piece also stressed the importance of preparing for the damage incurred to your hair beforehand and making sure you have the appropriate products on hand. Celebrity colorist Tracey Cunningham recommended a deep conditioning mask and using it once a week, regardless of if you notice a lot of damage yet or not.
8. Bring A Picture
Hill highly recommended bringing a picture of the color you want to your hair coloring appointment if you're not doing it yourself at home, and said it can even be helpful to bring pictures of what you don't want. This is super key, because what you might be calling a "honey blonde," for example, is what your hair stylist might call dark blonde, or vise-versa, and you can end up totally disappointed just because of a miscommunication. Seriously, nothing paints a picture of the look you want better than a literal picture.
9. The Sun Will Affect Your Color
Yep - dyed hair needs sun protection if you want to preserve the color for as long as possible and prevent brassy tones. Hat, scarves, and UV sprays are all helpful options, and Hill said you'll likely want to book a touch up appointment with your stylist after a sunny vacation.
I don't mean to scare you away from dyeing your hair — again, I have done it for years and find the fun and enjoyment I get from trying out different colors completely worth the maintenance. I also just want you to have a realistic understanding of what you're getting yourself into, because knowledge is power — even when it comes to hair.