Dyeing our hair can be really, really fun. But it can also sometimes lead to tears and near-disaster (I'm unfortunately speaking from experience). There are just things no one ever told you about coloring your hair that would have been majorly helpful beforehand, as well as things no one ever tells us about specific hair colors.
I've said it before: I've had basically every hair color known to human kind. Red, blonde, brown, black, really red, slightly blue, etc. etc. The only hair color I really haven't experimented with is silver, and that's only because I'm taking a hair dye "holiday" to give my hair time to get healthy again.
And since I've had just about every color, I have a pretty good sense about all the little perks and pitfalls of each one. For example, people were kind of obsessed with my hair when it was red, but I found myself having to dye it way more often than with a lot of other colors. Brown was relatively low-maintenance, but not as low maintenance as I had been led to believe.
Basically, there are key things to know about every hair color should you embark on a hair-altering journey of your own. So if you're thinking about switching color camps, here are 11 things to know about basically every hair color.
1. Red Fades (And Fast)
Of all the hair colors I've ever had, red is the hue that absolutely fades the fastest. I can't tell you how many times I started off loving my shade the first couple days, only to feel like I needed a touch up within a mere couple weeks. So if you're not willing to touch up your hair every four weeks or so (even before your roots are really showing) then be prepared for a color that changes and evolves over time.
2. Lightening Will Change Your Hair Texture
In a piece for SheKnows.com, celebrity colorist and blonde expert Rick Wellman noted 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." I personally found my hair needed a ton of conditioning and heat protectant products, and tangled more easily.
3. And So Will Darkening
Dyeing you hair any color — not just blonde — changes it on a chemical level and so you will absolutely notice a change in texture. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. In an article for Cosmopolitan, hair stylist Kari Hill said that after darkening your hair you'll likely notice that it's more voluminous, which is great news for us fine-haired people.
4. Blonde Is High Maintenance (For Real)
Wellman also reminded us that dyed blonde hair truly does require maintenance. Let me say it again, because for some reason I never truly believed it until I went blonde for myself: blonde hair requires maintenance. I could no longer just jump into a chlorine-filled pool or use heat styling tools without the proper sprays and protectants, and when I did, I paid the price in dry, brassy hair. This isn't to say that I didn't love my lighter color, I just had to accept the reality that I actually had to put some effort into it.
5. Brunettes Can Have Highlights Too
Over at the About.com Style section, beauty expert Julyne Derrick noted that a few face-framing highlights on dark hair work to brighten and soften the face, and a few around your whole head will prevent the color from seeming too monotone. Check out the above video gallery of different highlighted brunette looks for inspiration.
6. Expect To Spend More On Shampoo
Morphosis Hair Treatment For Color Treated Hair, $22.50, Loxabeauty.com
In a piece for Real Simple, 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," and these products definitely cost more than your regular shampoo. However, they are more than worth it since they keep the color you love intact for longer.
7. And Conditioner
Drybar Mudslide Nourishing Hair Mask, $38, Sephora.com
Color-treated hair — especially hair exposed to bleach and ammonia — needs a serious conditioning routine lest you want to end up with straw-like locks. In a piece for Instyle, celebrity colorist Tracey Cunningham recommended using a deep conditioning mask once a week, regardless of if you notice a lot of damage yet or not.
8. Hair Color Affects Makeup Selection
A lot of people don't realize that a new hair color may also require a whole new makeup palette. Think of it like this: you wouldn't repaint your living room without making sure your furniture matched, right? The same holds true for matching hair color to makeup.
9. Color Tone Is Important
Not all hair colors are created equal for your complexion. A warm versus cool blonde or brunette, or a fiery red versus a subtle auburn, can look totally different based on your skin tone (think of the paint and furniture analogy). Make sure you do your research and bring a photo with you to your colorist to ensure you're getting the tone you want.
10. Bleaching Is Almost Always Needed For Non-Traditional Hues
If you're like me and often get tempted by more vivacious colors, like turquoise and pink, just remember that you will have to dye the underlying hair to essentially platinum blonde in order for the color you actually want to appear over it. This was a lesson I learned the hard way when I excitedly bought an entire bottle of blue semi-permanent dye and saw basically zero results because I had refused to bleach the hair below.
11. Dyeing Over Dye Is Tricky
Remember, hair dye reacts extremely differently to natural hair than it does to color-treated and already processed hair, meaning that if you're not an expert the results can be crazy unpredictable. 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
Dyeing our hair is one of those totally frivolous, yet totally fun parts of life and I always recommend that people go for their dream color at least once. Just make sure you've done your research and know the basics — and remember, enjoy it!