Hair Color 101

Julia Youssef, Assistant Vice President, L'Oréal Technical Center answers your frequently asked questions about hair color:


Coloring Dry and Frizzy Hair

"I've never colored my hair before, but it's very dry and frizzy. How can I be sure that coloring my hair won't make it worse?"

If you're hair is simply dry and frizzy -- just parched and straw-like and you've had no previous color -- you can definitely color your hair. And actually, if you use an ammonia-free, non-permanent hair color product with added moisturizers, your hair will look and feel healthier, thanks to smoothed-down hair cuticles and plumped-up hair shafts.

Try L'Oréal ColorSpa MoistureActif. It's a non-permanent hair color product that deeply conditions while adding natural-looking tones. And it's easy to use, even for women who have never colored their hair before


Choosing a Color

"I've never colored my hair before. Are there rules about selecting a color?"

Yes! First, find a hair color brand that's right for you. They're not all the same. Some are great for fashion effects, while others may be better for gray coverage, while yet others are extra-conditioning or extra-fade-resistant. Second, decide whether you want to keep your current depth, or go lighter or darker. Although you can usually go up or down a couple of levels -- and some products enable you to achieve even more in a single step -- your safest bet for the first time you color is to stay at the same level, or go up or down just one level. Third, decide what tones you want in your hair: Neutral, cool ash, warm gold, copper, auburn or burgundy. The options are limitless!


Permed Hair Color Solutions

"I have a perm. Will my hair still hold color?"

Yes, healthy permed hair will definitely hold color. And healthy colored hair will definitely hold a perm. What I suggest you do is wait a couple of weeks between perming and coloring so that the cuticles of your hair have a chance to fully close. Of course, make sure the hair color products you're using are safe for permed hair. This information can always be found on the side of the box.


Preventing Color From Fading

"What can I do to prevent my new color from fading?"

Good shampoos and conditioners for color-treated hair contain UV filters (sunlight fades hair color just as it does clothes left out to dry on a sunny summer day) and other distinctive ingredients (like more gentle cleansers) that help protect and maintain color. But there are also shampoos and conditioners that are "safe for color-treated hair," which usually means they're very gentle.


Matching the Hair Color On the Box

"The color on the box doesn't match the hair on my head. Did I do something wrong?"

Probably not. The model's hair is an honest indication of what that product looked like on her hair. But your hair may be darker, lighter or have more red in it. Hair color is like chemistry. The end result is a combination of your starting color and the color you're adding. That's why you need to read the cues on the side of almost every box of at-home hair color.


Excessive Use of Color

"Someone told me I could color my hair as many times as I want and my hair will stay healthy -- as long as I don't go lighter. Is this true?"

No. Excessive use of hair color definitely will damage your hair, regardless of shade. And intelligent use of hair color will make your hair look great, also regardless of shade. I recommend touching up your roots every four to six weeks.


Treating Chlorine Exposed Hair

"I'm a competitive swimmer in my high school and am in a chlorinated swimming pool two hours a day. What kind of color should I use?"

My first recommendation would be that you use a swimming cap! My second recommendation would be that you apply a deep conditioning treatment to your hair before putting on that cap to act as a buffer against all that chlorine. As for hair color, you should try an ammonia-free non-permanent color. You may want to try L'Oréal ColorSpa MoistureActif, which will boost your hair color without dramatically changing it.


Tips for Coloring Dreadlocks

"Is it possible to color your hair if you have dreadlocks?"

Yes! Definitely! Dreadlocks accept bleach as well. Just make sure your hair is thoroughly saturated with formula. The most common mistake that people with dreadlocks make is they don't get the mixture deep in their locks.


Coloring Chemically Straightened Dry Hair

"I straighten my hair using chemical relaxers, and it's very dry. But I'm dying to dye my hair. Is it safe?"

If you relax your hair, you don't want to bleach it. But you can color it. You can go with a permanent hair color product, which will give you a more visible color shift, and will cover all your grays if you have lots of them. On the other hand, if you'd be happy with a subtle change, and if you want to deep-condition your hair while you're coloring it, you may want to try a non-permanent ammonia-free hair color product. If you decide to go permanent, try L'Oréal Excellence or L'Oréal Preference. Or, if you want non-permanent and extra-conditioning, try L'Oréal ColorSpa MoistureActif.


Coloring Naturally Dark Black Hair

"I'm an African American woman with black hair. I'd love to make my hair "warmer" by making it brown. How do I choose a color?"

If you have black hair -- regardless of your ethnicity -- consider using a permanent hair color product with dyes formulated exclusively for women with dark hair just like yours. They may not be able to take you from darkest black to lightest blonde in one step, but they can give you a much lighter color without any brassiness at all. That's because they have both extra lifting action (so your hair gets lighter than it would with a traditional dye) and extra toning action (so your brassies get more "toned down" than they would with a traditional lightener). Here's another alternative for you: Go a deep red, again using a hair color product made specifically for dark-haired women. The natural red tones in your hair will work with -- not against -- a wonderful shade of copper, ruby or burgundy. You may want to try the True Brunettes collection from L'Oréal Preference; the Hi-Lift Browns collection from L'Oréal Féria; or the Power Reds collection, also from L'Oréal Féria.

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