Learn How Hair Color Works To Understand The Risks

To color or not to color your hair

Hair color is a fabulous way to change your style and us women have been changing our hair color for hundreds of years. Romans applied colored paste with lime to their locks to change the color but in 1907 L’Oreal’s Eugene Schueller invented the reliable synthetic hair dyes we know today and we have been going crazy for color ever since.

Coloring your hair is achieved in two ways: either bleaching or staining.

Bleaching To Go Lighter

If you have darker hair and want to go lighter, you have to remove the color already in your hair. This is commonly done using hydrogen peroxide which reacts with melanin (the color molecules in your hair) rendering it permanently colorless.

How much color is removed depends on the strength of the peroxide used and whether an alkalizing agent like ammonia is used. Ammonia is an alkaline that opens the cuticles to allow the bleach into the hair shaft and react with even more melanin.

During the application of the alkaline ammonia, hair swells which weakens it substantially. This is why black women who relax their hair are advised against coloring their hair as well.


Hair relaxers are also alkaline so relaxed hair has already weakened from the swelling during the relaxing process. Coloring on top of that would irreparably damage the hair fiber and intense breakage becomes inevitable after that.

If virgin hair is colored with an alkalizing agent, although it won’t change the natural structure of the hair (curls remain the same), the chemical process may leave the hair weaker than it was before due to loss of protein during the coloring process. This is why a color stylist will advise you against going too light if your natural hair color is very dark brown to black.

Once the hair is bleached, it is then stained with the coloring agent to give the desired result. Many box colors do this is a single step but many color stylists may do them as separate processes.

Staining To Go Darker

Going darker involves adding color to your hair, essentially your hair gets stained by the color applied. Semi permanent colors sit on the outside of your hair shaft and wash out with a few shampoos.

Permanent colors on the other hand have molecules that are small enough to get inside the hair shaft. Once inside the hair shaft, there they react with each other to create polymers that would then be too big to get out of the shaft.

Unfortunately every time you get your hair wet, it swells with water especially if your hair has high porosity and as a result you will find that even permanent hair colors can get washed out and lose their vibrancy after a few shampoos.

For this reason, shampoos specifically made for colored hair are advisable to keep your color vibrant and reduce the number of times that you need to re-color your hair.

Originally posted 2012-05-26 19:00:04.

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About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com. I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too. My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

About Alma Ruddock


I’m Alma Ruddock, the founder and editor-in-chief of Blackhairinformation.com. I stumbled on a hair care forum back in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair, and quite possibly my life, forever! I immediately started to transition to natural hair and started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to help others achieve their dreams too. My three passions are hair, art and entrepreneurship and I love to be able to bring my unique view on hair growth and successful hair journeys to our readers. I am an eternal optimist and workaholic. In addition to BHI I have founded quite a few other websites and businesses including Elongtress Hair Vitamins and Urban Gyal which all fall under the umbrella of my company Coils Media Ltd.

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Comments

  1. Belinda Kimbrough
    Belinda Kimbrough

    Color and it has to be red, henna won’t work as I am gray and I am not ready to show it completely at this time, but I will, I’m only 47

  2. S H-a N-McClendon
    S H-a N-McClendon

    my hair was that color …not by choice.. DAMAGED to hell .. I have to break down and do another big chop .. I’m going to stay away from color for now… it chemically burned my scalp too…

  3. Kelly Hall
    Kelly Hall

    I love my color, but it took 3 months for my curl pattern to come back and my hair was dryyyyy!! Semis and rinses for me I think.

  4. Ashla C. Freeman
    Ashla C. Freeman

    Color it’s exotic!!!♥️♥️♥️♥️ #just have to take care of it (especially for dryness , didn’t destroy my curl pattern)

  5. Karen

    I need a good hair color brand for my gray roots and natural hair,,,,,,,,,

  6. Weneeke Mobley
    Weneeke Mobley

    Are males writing these articles with negative innuendo about coloring black hair? Coloring helps “lighten the hair” thinning is good for some of us who have coarse, thick dark hair. And for those of us who enjoy the longer hair. Especially in the summer–dark hair can be really hot–even if it’s short! Thinning it makes it easier to style too.

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