Caring for Coloured Hair

I’ve been dying my hair crazy colours for a little while now, and by a little while I actually mean over 15 years.  One of the oldest posts on my blog chronicles the various stages of my hair colour journey.  I’ve had every, and I mean every colour going, and this was long before the days where brightly coloured hair was fashionable and the dyes available in high street shops.  I spent a fortune importing colours from the US that could only be bought online, I was (and still am) a hair colour addict!

It seems to surprise people when they find out my natural hair colour is a really dark almost black brown.  At least I think so, it has been a long time after all!  Getting it light enough to make it bright blue, purple or pink takes hard work and a lot of bleach, sometimes too much!  At first I was sensible, I would go to the hairdressers and let them change my hair and choose more subtle shades that only needed my hair to be lightened:
Then I started full head bleaching, only getting it done when I was home from uni and topping up the colour in between.  After uni I got a job which meant I couldn’t go home much, and my desire for brighter and more unusual colours just grew.  I grabbed an at home bleach kit and just set to it, and it worked!
It worked so well and got my colours were so bright that I was truly obsessed!  I was always ordering new colours online and I wasn’t just touching up my roots, oh no, I was bleaching my full head every month and throwing another colour on top, I loved it!  Then my hair became so porous from the dye it stopped taking the dye at all, it just rinsed out completely.  Then the inevitable happened…

…my hair fell out…

Now this is doing to sound dramatic but my hair honestly would come out at the slightest touch, washing my hair meant spending 15 minutes pulling the loose strands out.  I was living with two other long haired girls who dyed their locks too, so needless to say our shower was constantly blocked.  I had a patch of hair near my left parting that completely snapped off, leaving the remaining hair there to stick out like I’d been electrocuted.  In fact even now this section of hair only reaches my chin even after 6 years.  I was convinced my hair couldn’t grow longer than touching my shoulders as this was the length it was stuck at, despite years of trying to grow it. I somehow missed the fact that my hair had the texture of chewing gum and would snap with every brush.  It left a mark on my now-boyfriend Harry when before we were together he ran my pony tail through his hand lightly and was rewarded with a handful of hair!  Somewhere between him apologising profusely and me pleading ‘it’s fine,that’s just what my hair does” I started to realise I had maybe gone too far.  
I’d love to say that’s the reason I stopped bleaching my hair but the real reason is one I mentioned earlier, my hair just wouldn’t take colour anymore.  I knew my hair was in a bad way but when it can’t even soak in any of the dye there really was no point continuing.  I decided the only thing to do was leave my hair blonde and just touch up the roots as there was no way I was growing bleach blonde hair out to black/brown underneath till it was all grown out!
Bearing in mind I hadn’t chosen blonde as a hair colour, this was just the colour my hair was left with when my bright dyes had washed out, so it wasn’t a nicely toned blonde, it was a weird, yellow blonde, not my best look.  Although the worst parts had to be chopped off, I tried a lot of things to rescue what was left, and after years of trial and error I have found the best things to rescue dyed locks.  Now my hair is healthy and I know a lot more about how to keep my hair in top condition while still giving in to my need for colour, here’s a few tips I’ve learnt over the years:
Go Natural
Switching to natural hair products made the biggest difference to stopping my hair deteriorating any further.  Parabens and sulfates are packed into most shampoos and conditioners because they make the hair feel smoother without actually helping your hair.  Think of it as a plastic coating, it feel smooth from the outside but it isn’t helping the hair itself at all on the inside. In fact it’s actually harming it.  When I first started the hunt for paraben and sulfate free hair products the only place on the high street you could find them was The Body Shop, but as more people are now aware of the harm of these products more brands are doing natural hair lines.  They do take some getting use to, the shampoo doesn’t really lather up as you will be used to and the conditioners tend to have the consistency of a thick moisturiser but you get used to it.  Try a few brands and see what works for you.

Hair masks save the day!
Forget using one as an occasional treat, I used a hair mask every time I washed my hair and I would leave it on as long as possible.  Sleep with them in if you can.  Don’t think this means you can skip the conditioner either, you need to condition as usual after your mask, and just like the shampoos and conditioners it’s worth going for something that is paraben and sulfate free

Avoid washing your hair
Wash you hair as little as possible.  I know some people won’t believe me but it’s true that you need to wash you hair less and less the more time you give between washes, your scalp gets used to it and will produce less oil.  Add an extra few days onto your wash routine and your hair will adapt.  Plus it makes your colour last longer, bonus!  See how far you can push it, these days I tend to only wash my hair once every week to week and a half.  

Avoid all heat
I know it’s obvious and as a girl with thick hair that can take up to 6 hours to air dry I feel the pain, I really do, but avoiding using hair dryers, electric curlers and straighteners really does make a difference.  Invest in heat-free alternatives for curling hair, they take longer but your hair will thank you and it’s not 00’s anymore so it’s fine not to have flat ironed hair.

Protect, protect, protect
If you do use heat on your hair use a heat protector, in fact use two!  Use as much as you can to protect your hair, that heat is a killer!  

Never brush wet hair
If your hair has been over bleached this is when it will be at it’s most chewing-gum like and while it is oddly fascinating to see how far your hair will stretch, it is not a good thing for hair health.  Your hair will break much more and it’s petty painful trying to drag a brush through wet, gunky locks.  

Use Hair oils
Let me tell you, argan oil coming onto the market a few years ago was the saviour of my hair!  I use more then advised as my hair soaks it up scarily fast (my hair was seriously thirsty) but start of sparingly and see what your hair needs.  I tend to use it only on the ends and mid lengths of my hair as this is what will be the most damaged and I don’t like an oily scalp.  It will make your hair look better and be more healthy, it’s amazing!  Moroccan oil works similarly, I’ve tried both and had similar results but for some reason i’m more drawn towards argan oil.  Don’t be fooled by the products ‘infused’ with the oil and go straight for the real thing, you can usually find it in the black hair section of a store much cheaper than the general hair section.

Use vegan dyes
Some hair dyes are much gentler on your hair then others, so if like me you can’t stop your dye addiction, go in for these.  Henna is the ultimate gentle dye but it’s not for me, I like my hairs bright an artificial!  These days there are a lot of vegan dyes on the market, a favourite of mine is Manic Panic that do amazing dyes in every colour possible.

If you are going to lighten your hair, get it done professionally
Despite many, many temptations I have managed to avoid reaching for the home bleach kit and will always wait to visit my hairdresser, no matter how bad my roots get.  Find a hairdresser you trust, take their advice, don’t risk it.  

Truth be told the only reason my hair is currently orange is it’s one of the brightest colours my hairdresser can lighten my hair to without using bleach and that’s why I’ve stuck with it for so long.  Recently adding pink to the ends of course because old habits dye hard (get it!)

Here are just a few products I’ve come to swear by:
  • Lush R&B Hair Moisturiser 
  • Rockin Rollers 
  • Hair Xpertise Argan OIl
  • Treseme Heat Protection Spray
  • L’Oreal Paris Hair Expertise EverPure Intense Mask

Of course it’s not always possible to save your hair, if you are worried about hair loss, why not check out the FUE hair transplant cost to see if that’s a viable option is for you.  All is not lost.

What is your hair care must have?
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