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Although there are new and popular trends with hair colour today, hair colouring is not a recent discovery. Since as early as 3400 BC, ancient Egyptians began using henna, a plant-based powder colorant, to camouflage grey hairs, prior to the arrival of commercial hair dyes on the market. Similarly, hair dyes are used by both men and women for this purpose today. It is also used simply to add ‘spice’ to already beautiful, monotone hairstyles. Despite this boost in appearance, which hair colouring provides, it is also important to pay attention to its care since colour treated hair generally requires more attention than hair that is not colour treated. Ideally, chemical processes like colouring and relaxing should be left to professional stylists. If anything were to go wrong you would most likely be in a better position to correct the problem at the hair salon rather than at home. In looking at colour treated hair and its care, we must first distinguish between the three main types of hair colour. These are permanent, semi-permanent and temporary. Each category of colour has its own set of benefits and consequences for different hair types.
Permanent colouring is necessary if you wish to undergo a drastic colour change. This colouring process involves using a hydrogen peroxide and/or ammonia-based product. These ingredients lift the cuticle layers to allow for colour deposition. Along with this, this process strips away some of the protein deep within the hair strands and makes the hair weaker and vulnerable to breakage. Because of this, you must ensure that you condition and moisturise your hair regularly when it is colour treated so that it doesn’t become extremely brittle. Permanent colour often loses its intensity over time but it will not wash away. To get the optimum look from your colour, it is advised that you use a colour-safe shampoo and conditioner when cleansing and conditioning your hair. Shampoos should always be sulfate-free. In addition to this, select supporting daily products that contain sunscreens and light oils. Regular conditioning pays off in preserving hair colour and keeping the hair radiant with little product.
Semi-permanent colours usually retain its vibrancy for three to six months. Porosity improves the penetration of these colours: the more porous your hair is, the deeper the colour penetration will be. There are two types of semi-permanent colours. These are partial-penetration semi-permanent colours and deposit-only semi-permanent colours. These hair colours are not effective at lifting or lightening hair colour but can cover grey hairs and darken tresses easily by fifty percent. Henna is an example of a deposit-only semi-permanent colour. Henna pigments bind to our hair protein structure and have a protective layering effect on the hair. As you continue henna treatments on your hair, the colour is intensified. This plant-based powder provides a more natural and safe way to colour hair, producing red/auburn tones in dark hair. Similarly with this type of colouring process, you need to ensure that your hair is properly conditioned and moisturised if you would like it to thrive. Henna can thicken the hair strands for some persons and cause its porosity to be lower.
According to Davis-Sivasothy’s ‘The Science of Black Hair’, colour rinses or glazes are the safest hair colours for textured hair types. Similarly, it is safer for straighter hair types as well. These types of hair colours are created from molecules that are too large to enter the cortex of the hair shaft. Instead, they simply coat the outside cuticle layers and are normally washed away in 10 to 15 washes. Unlike other types of hair colours, rinses do not damage the cuticle layers. However, it can be drying for some individuals’ hair, therefore thorough moisturising and deep conditioning are needed to restore the hair’s natural elasticity and flexibility following a colour rinse. I encourage you to take advantage of the information available on the Internet and in hair care books. ‘The Science of Black Hair’ is a good book to invest in if you have textured hair and would like to learn more about it. Be careful when making decisions about colouring your hair and remember to always read ingredients and instructions so that you don’t end up in a terrible situation after you colour your hair.