“Most of us in Trinidad and Tobago have dark hair and because of this we may need to get our hair bleached to an extent in order to achieve brighter colours.”
As persons living in a modern society, we are always looking for ways to stand out or show our individuality. One way in which we show this is through our hair. For instance, some persons may decide to sport an afro, dreadlocks or maybe a Mohawk as a sign of self expression. Similarly, others also express themselves by colouring their hair. As humans, we are never satisfied; therefore if there is something affordable and safe that we can do to enhance our appearance, we will most likely do it. Hair colouring is one of these things.
What is colour?
Colour can be defined as an optical illusion a reflection of light falling onto the object in view. In our hair, the outer layer or the cuticle is transparent and it is the colour pigments in the cortex or inner layer which shine through the cuticle and give us the colour that we see on our hair. Despite this, in some African-Caribbean hair types, there is also pigment distributed in the cuticle. Research suggests that African-Caribbean hair is more resistant to the penetration of chemicals. However, this is only true for hair in its virgin state. Our natural hair is composed of varying proportions of black, brown, red and yellow pigments. Black and brown hair, which most of us have in Trinidad and Tobago, contains a lot of pigment, mostly the very dark pigment which is known as eumelanin. On the other hand, blonde hair contains very little pigment, predominantly the yellow-red pigment known as pheomelanin. White hair however, has very little or no melanin. We usually develop this colour hair as we age. Albinos on the other hand are born with little to no melanin in their hair, skin and eyes.
How is colour made up?
When colouring the hair, shades of colours are used in a similar way to paints. They can either be used separately or mixed together to achieve different colours. There are four main sets of colours; primary, secondary, tertiary and complementary. The primary colours are red, blue and green. These colours combine to form secondary colours. Secondary colours and primary colours combine to form tertiary colours. Some examples of these tertiary colours are copper red, gold and mahogany. Complementary colours however, are made up of primary and secondary colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel. They can be used to neutralise unwanted hair colour and, when mixed together, create a shade of brown. ‘Neutralise’ in this case simply refers to a way of getting rid of unwanted colour which emerged during the tinting process.
Consultation and analysis
To simplify the colouring process, manufacturers produce shade charts using synthetic hair swatches in order to show their colour range. It is important that you are provided with one of these charts when choosing a colour to put in your hair at the hair salon. These charts should be viewed in natural light as the light in the salon may cause the colours on the colour chart to appear darker or lighter than they really are. Once you do this, you will not be surprised when you step out into the sunlight and see that you got your hair done in perhaps a bright orange or red colour!
Most of us in the Trinidad and Tobago have dark hair and because of this we may need to get our hair bleached to an extent in order to achieve brighter colours. The shade chart can also be useful here as it can indicate to you the colour that is achievable with and without pre-lightening. However it is necessary to bear in mind that hydrogen peroxide, a chemical used to strip the hair of its colour, can also strip the hair of its moisture. The number of lifts required to lighten your hair can leave it extremely dry and brittle and therefore making it more difficult to retain length.
This was just an introduction to hair colouring. The effects of hair colouring and its proper treatment will be discussed later on in the series. Until then, take into consideration the basic things previously mentioned which you should know before making the decision to colour your hair.
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