A Foolproof Guide To Colouring Your Hair
Left: Mr KJ Apa, California, March 2020. Photograph by Mr Frazer Harrison/Getty. Images. Middle: Mr Evan Mock, New York, November 2019. Photograph by Mr Matteo Prandoni/BFA.com. Right: Mr Lucky Blue Smith, New York, February 2015. Photograph by Mr Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images
Although there’s hope that the end result of colouring one’s hair will be stylish and rewarding, that’s not always the case – see Mr Danny DeVito in Matilda. Even without glue pranks to contend with, however, the whole process can prove challenging. From over-damaging your hair to getting the wrong colour, there are multiple wrong turns away from your final destination. But fear not: we are here to take your hand and guide you down the road to variegated follicular greatness. Whether or not you have access to a hair salon, and whether or not you have any experience in dyeing your hair, we’ve got you covered.
Set the tone
First and foremost, you have to commit to a specific idea and a specific colour. You also have to be flexible – your vision may not be feasible for your hair.
You should also trust the specialists. Hair colourists will definitely be able to direct you, but before you hit the salon or the shop, it’s good to think about what colour you would like, and what colours would look good on you.
“Take into consideration skin tone and eye colour,” says Ms Emma Taylor, hair education manager for haircare brand SACHAJUAN. “A pro tip is to look at the colour of the veins on your wrist, generally green-coloured veins are a warmer skin tone and blue is cooler.” Warmer skin tones suit more golden tones, such as warm coppers and browns. If you are on the cooler side, opt for ashy shades with blue undertones. “If you’re super lucky, you can have a neutral [skin tone] that will suit anything at all.”
If you decide that you want to go lighter, you will need to bleach your hair. Bleaching will be your go-to method if you want to go blond, get highlights, remove previous dyes or prep your hair for a brighter colour.
Although tempting, haircare professionals advise against bleaching your hair at home. “It’s essential that there is no overlapping of product, and doing this at home is near impossible,” says Ms Taylor. “Timing is also a key factor. A short development will result in yellow, brassy tones and if left too long, it will result in hair like chewing gum. This is definitely one for the pros.”
To get that silvery blond with an icy blue undertone, sported by the likes of Messrs Zayn Malik and Lucky Blue Smith, a purple toner is your friend. Purple will cancel out and lift those yellow, brassy undertones, giving you that cool-toned effect.
“Toning is neutralising,” says Ms Taylor. “If something is too yellow, [look at its opposite colour] on the colour wheel and you’ll find that purple will neutralise it. If something is orange, blue will neutralise it.” Ms Taylor suggests opting for violet-pigmented hair-cleansing products, such as SACHAJUAN’s Silver Shampoo and Conditioner – use it once or twice a week.
Make a semi-permanent commitment
When dyeing hair yourself, “use a semi-permanent [colour] if possible,” advises Ms Taylor. “Respect the development time [of the product] and use a timer. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on mixing and developing.” This is a great option for touching up your hair; it will tone and refresh your colour when it starts to fade and will cover any greys.
If you fancy trying out the pastel-shade trend, which you can currently spot on the heads of Mr Frank Ocean, Mr Jaden Smith and Gossip Girl-reboot star Mr Evan Mock, there are a few ways to approach it. You may want to try out a wash-out dye such as hair chalk or temporary colour sprays to check how the colour looks on you first. When you know what you want, go ahead and use the semi-permanent pigmented dye.
“If your hair is light enough, you can be a temporary chameleon,” says Ms Taylor. “Pastel colours are beautiful, although they’re not meant for longevity. If you begin with a more intense, brighter pink tone, it will fade out to a beautiful soft pink. But if you start with a soft pink, depending on your hair’s porosity, it may only last up to two, three shampoos.”
To make the colour last longer, wash it less often and always use cool water.
Don’t forget your roots
Touching up your roots at home is easier said than done. Ms Taylor recommends root cover-up sprays or “hair mascaras” to conceal roots until your next salon appointment. “If you can use a styling product to achieve the desired results, your colourist will love you,” she says.
However, if a salon appointment is unrealistic Ms Taylor suggests to “work in clean, neat sections” and “never overlap onto the previous colour”, as that could cause extra damage to the hair, or lead to a botched dye job.
Repair the damage
Repeated bleaching, hair colouring and other chemical treatments wreak havoc on your hair, which is why it’s important to get the aftercare right. Moisturised, healthy strands will be able to handle more and will be less prone to breakage. It’s important to embed a rich moisturising mask into your haircare routine to infuse the hair with nourishing ingredients, Sisley’s Regenerating Hair Care Mask will do just that.
A leave-in conditioner is another good investment; think of it as a moisturiser for your hair – it will help maintain the moisture and elasticity of the hair and it will penetrate deeper into the hair as, unlike conditioners, it stays on the hair and isn’t rinsed off, Christophe Robin’s hair cream is a great option as it will moisturise, but won’t weigh your hair down, and doubles up as a styling aid.
If you’ve over-damaged your hair to a point that feels like there’s no return, don’t stress. Although you cannot go back to healthy virgin hair, you can repair some of the damage.
“You can reverse some of the visible effects if the hair is only damaged to a certain point,” says Mr Peter Burkill, creative ambassador for SACHAJUAN. “You’ll need to build the elasticity of the hair along with repairing the cuticle of the hair and restoring the moisture. You’ll also need to build up the protein levels in the hair.”
Look for products aimed at repairing damaged hair, and include some type of protein treatment in the formula. SACHAJUAN’s Intensive Repair Conditioner will help restore and protect the hair; it also contains UV-protection so it will also prevent colour-fading.
Also, avoid using heating tools – but if you must, always prep with a heat protectant. And if your hair is still very brittle and dry, a silk pillowcase can help. “Silk pillowcases are a great investment as they help to prevent cuticle damage by reducing the friction against the pillow,” says Mr Burkill.