I've been through the ringer with my hair. It's fine yet very textured, and I spend four hours dying it a cool blonde every few months. The lack of volume makes it so I can't use products that will weigh it down, but because of its curl, I need extra hydration. Add bleach to the mix, and, well, damage is always an issue.
Frankly, I hadn't been taking very good care of my hair when I met Matt Rez, a colorist at Mèche Salon in Beverly Hills and Redken's newest brand ambassador.. He was the first and only colorist to really take into account the health of my hair as he colored it. He cared for every strand—making sure not to paint over sections that had been done before and recommending products to use as homework before next time. Under his care, my hair has grown more over the last few months than ever before, and my color's never looked better.
As I sat in the chair, he'd regale me with stories of other clients just like me—those who'd come in without any idea why their hair was breaking off or what to do to prevent it. He's really seen it all. So, I had his assistant give away all his secrets for maintaining the health of your hair and preventing the ever-feared "chemical haircut." Below, find her tips.
Prep your hair beforehand
"Make sure to prep your hair before your color appointment," recommends Meaghan Vinci, a colorist at Mèche Salon in Beverly Hills. "You want to keep your hair as healthy as possible going into a color appointment—this prevents breakage. Apply a generous amount of Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 ($28) and sleep in it overnight. In the morning, rinse it out and apply Shu Uemura Ultimate Remedy Extreme Restoration Treatment ($68) as a conditioning treatment for 15 minutes."
"Be honest with your colorist," implores Vinci. "Give them all the information of your past color experiences from the last three years—the colors, the damage, anything. This matters as it will explain a bit about your hair's health and address any issues that may come up during the process. Tell them your concerns and what you disliked and liked about previous hair colors. However, trust them. Once you've given them all the information, they'll be able to collaborate with you on the best strategy."
Wear it natural
"Don't heat-style your hair a couple days leading up to your color appointment and a couple days after. I love putting the Davines OI Oil ($45) all throughout the ends of my hair and spraying Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Hairspray ($42) on the ends to get a soft, messy wave," says Vinci. "Then, I let it air-dry."
If you have curly hair, use something thicker and more hydrating like Vernon François Re~Vamp Mid Length Repair Cream ($33).
"It takes time going from a solid brunette to really bright blonde," advises Vinci. "This cannot happen in one sitting (and if your colorist is going for it, ask to split it up into separate appointments). It usually takes two to three separate appointments in order to keep your hair healthy and prevent damage and breakage."
Make sure your colorist uses Olaplex
"Not only is the brand's No.3 formula great for at-home care, No.1 (which is only sold to professionals) can be put inside the lightener during your appointment to help rebuild the bonds inside your hair," says Vinci. "No.2 can be used as an after highlight treatment in the salon too!"
Use a strengthening shampoo and conditioner
"Use really good shampoo and conditioners at home. You must take care of your hair in between appointments for it to look its best (and stay healthy)," Vinci says. "I love Inphenom Shampoo ($25) and Shu Uemura Ultimate Remedy Extreme Restoration Conditioner ($58) as well as sleeping in your Olaplex once a week."
Use coconut oil
"If you swim often or are going on vacation, put coconut oil on the ends of your hair to prolong your color and protect the ends from drying out (due to the exposure to salt water)," says Vinci.