Natural Socialite

Reader Request | Is there a “healthy” way for me to color my natural hair?

In Education, Reader Submissions on April 26, 2011 at 11:58 am

Q: Charlotte, I’m frustrated with rinses that only last a few washes at best, are there any more permanent options out there that are healthier for my hair?

A: Thank you for your question.  I am sure that there are others out there that have the same concern.  While our natural hair is as beautiful as it is, it seems that we all get that “itch” to color our tresses and create our own harmonizing hues.  Many of you know that my major hair crush is a stunning natural beauty with rich honey blonde hair by the name of Whitney Mero (side note: which I actually just discovered is the birth sister of my sister from another Mister *inserts scream here*), and I have obsessive dreams and aspirations of mimicking her mane style & color sometime down the line.  My main fear however, has always been that I will end up on the “I was natural for 3 years but I colored my hair and it all fell out and broke off” list and be forced into an unwanted 3rd big chop.  Not cool.  At all.

To properly answer your question, I first want you to understand exactly why there are limited options for those of us who may be fearful of opening that “color door”, and what is actually happening when we lighten [lift] our natural hair color.

The pigment of your hair comes from the inner two layers. When you bleach your hair, you damage the shingles that create the covering of the hair shaft. The dye, which slips through the gaps in the outer layers, swells to give your hair a different color. But the prior or current damage the bleach caused allows the dye to slowly slip out of the hair, so we end up losing the full body of the hair faster than if we had just left it alone.

Black hair is drier than other types of hair, which naturally makes it more prone to damage. If your hair color is naturally black or dark brown, you have to actually lift the color a few shades (2 or so) to see any difference.  In order to do this, your hair must be bleached, which cannot be done with pure plant (natural) products. You must use bleach and peroxide developer mix. While this method is effective, it strips the protein from your hair is extremely hard on the hair as well.

  • If you do decide to color, just be smart about it.  I would highly suggest a semi-permanent option which will be less harsh on the hair.
  • Visit a professional. I would highly recommend seeing a licensed hair professional that is also designated as a color specialist.
  • Start with your hair in optimum health. Do not color your hair if it is brittle, broken, and if you have split hairs. You are writing your own invitation to I’m not trying to be harsh but if you cannot maintain the health of your hair without color, more likely than not, you are not quite ready to maintain color treated hair. 
  • Shampoo hair with products that are sulfate-free.  Moisturizing shampoos are best.
  • Nourish your hair with a weekly deep conditioner or mask treatment in order to help prevent (and repair) damage
  • Try body art quality henna from a reputable source. Henna is a natural colorant and strengthener, and comes with all types of additional health benefits.  Henna is not permanent, but it may help satisfy your color fix.

I’ve personally heard good things about the coloring experience at the Aveda Salons.  While I have not tried their services myself, I can appreciate their use of conditioning plant oils & their acknowledgement of the “dangers” traditional coloring as well as their commitment to protecting mother earth. 

From the website:

Discover hair color with the energy of plants. Our innovative formulas leave hair essentially damage-free—infused with conditioning plant oils for shinier, healthy-looking color.

Full Spectrum Deep™ Creme Color for Dark Hair
Transforms dark hair to light—vibrant, true-to-life tones from a single, simple process. All from a 93% naturally derived* formula, so color is healthy-looking, luminous—and it’s gentle on the Earth as on hair.

Shades of Enlightenment™ Advanced Lifting Creme Hair Color
Blondes awaken with the first permanent hair color system that’s 97% naturally derived*—capturing the active energy of plants.

Full Spectrum Deposit-Only Color Treatment
This 99% naturally derived formula* delivers rich color that lasts up to eight weeks. Treatment formula actually improves the condition of damaged hair.

Full Spectrum™ Protective Permanent Creme Hair Color
A 97% naturally derived formula* which delivers superior permanent color that resists fading—keeps hair shiny and essentially damage-free.

  *from plants and non-petroleum based minerals

Have you colored your natural hair?  What was your experience?


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