We all love a good myth buster. There are loads of hair myths floating around out there, and while hair care certainly doesn't conform to a one-size-fits-all approach, there is a baseline guide to follow when it comes to caring for our hair color.
Hair color is more than just a matter of personal preference—it's chemistry. Dying our hair is shifting the interior and the exterior of our strands, so the way we treat them is key to color preservation, vibrancy, and health. We put together a list of the 10 most common hair color myths and tapped expert colorists Ashley Pineda, Aspen Rae, and Kathy Debski to help us sort the facts from fiction when it comes to caring for dyed hair.
Meet the Expert
- Ashley Pineda is a balayage expert and colorist at High Brow Hippie Salon and Tesler Salon in Los Angeles.
- Aspen Rae is a Pravana colorist and owner of The EDIT Salon in Denver, Colorado.
- Kathy Debski is a colorist based out of SPACE by ALEX BROWN in Chicago.
DON'T: Wash Your Hair the Next Day
Staying away from water can give your newly dyed strands their best chance of remaining vibrant. "I recommend clients give their hair two to three days to let their new color truly set in," says Pineda. While washing your hair the next day doesn't necessarily do any harm to your hair or color, waiting it out may offer an added boost for longer hold. "It allows the hair cuticle more time to close and lock in those beautiful, newly added tones," adds Debski, who advises her clients to hold off from their first rinse for at least a full 24 hours. "The pigments are just settling in and the cuticle of the hair shaft is still trying to return to its normal, closed state," she says.
Pineda points out that the additional wait time before your first shampoo can do favors for your scalp's health, too. The oils that your body naturally produces on the scalp will not only hydrate but also protect your hair, she tells us. For this reason, keeping up with a consistent routine of washing your hair every two to three days will only do favors for your hair color.
DON'T: Use Heat On Newly Dyed Strands
For the sake of seeing the results of your color, heat is understandably needed to dry your hair after the process is complete. But does that make it safe to continue using hot tools at home once your appointment is over? "It is definitely best to avoid heat for the first 48 hours after a color appointment," says Rae. And when you are ready to get back to heat styling, she says a heat protectant is a must; her recommendation is this leave-in treatment from Pravana. Thankfully, there are many protectants like this one out there that will not only shield your new color from hot tools but will also keep UV rays from penetrating your strands and altering your new color.
DON'T: Dye Your Eyebrows to Match
Changing the color of your brows to match your newly dyed strands is not a must-do when straying from your natural tone. In fact, dying your brows to match can, in many cases, cause your new color job to look more artificial. Leaving the brows in their natural color can help accentuate a client's facial features, Pineda points out. "Personally, I love a bold brow with certain blondes," she says. And while this myth is so closely tied to preference—"I do have clients that prefer to tint their brows to match their copper or strawberry blonde hair," she says—it is false to think of a brow tint as a prerequisite for any drastic color job you take on. In this situation, Pineda assures us, "less is always more."
DO: Steer Clear of Permanent Color
With something as expressive as hair color, the idea of permanence doesn't really align. Permanent hair color is, perhaps unsurprisingly, difficult to remove. "Permanent color penetrates the hair strand at a deeper level than a temporary color," Debski explains, which is why she suggests using a temporary color at first, "especially if the client is unsure of the depth or tone they want to achieve." Temporary colors are much easier to change and remove. "I personally only use permanent color when 100 percent grey coverage is needed [for] this very reason," says Rae.
When changing your color from light to dark, our experts recommend asking your colorist to use a semi- or demi-permanent color until you are absolutely certain you can commit to the change. "Removing permanent hair color can not only be very difficult but [can also] result in stress and potential damage on your hair," warns Rae.
DON'T: Expect Gray Hair
It's been said that starting your hair color journey at a young age could actually backfire, leading to more gray hair down the line. In truth, the two do not correlate. "Gray hair does not show faster just because you color your hair," says Debski. Factors like stress, health, and genetics are going to contribute to your first signs of gray, but hair color history will never be one of them. And when you do notice those first gray hairs coming in, Debski points out that it'll likely be at the roots as new growth.
DON'T: Use Box Dyes When You're in a Pinch
With semi- and demi-permanent colors in mind, it can be easy to reason with ourselves that using a quick box dye is a simple and more affordable solution to swapping hair colors when getting in for an appointment doesn't seem feasible. Truth be told, box dyes can actually set you up on a journey of hair damage, with more time and money ultimately being spent in the end. "Box dyes should be avoided in all circumstances," says Debski. "They contain high counts of metallic salts and other dyes," which can have an adverse effect on your strands, "especially if a client is wanting to eventually go lighter."
While they may seem like a viable solution in the short term, Rae assures us that the damage they cause, such as turning the hair dry and brittle, can actually create long-term issues. "Because they interact poorly with professional products," even a color correction may result in multiple rounds and added stress to your already vulnerable strands, she says.
DO: Avoid Hot Water When You Rinse
Our water quality and temperature plays a large role in how well our color remains intact. Rest assured, this doesn't mean you need to freeze to death while washing your hair, but it is safer to opt for warmth rather than heat. "When water is too hot, it opens up the hair cuticle and releases color molecules at a rapid pace," says Pineda.
The intensity of your color also dictates its sensitivity to your water's temperature. When working with vibrant or cool tones, Pineda says she's sure to keep the water on the cooler side to help keep those color molecules from going down the drain. Having a water filter in your home can also be an added perk for keeping your hair cuticles closed, she notes. "Although a maintenance gloss is typically required every four to six weeks after your initial color service, making sure you are doing your part at home will allow you to have long-lasting vivid color and will prevent any brassiness for a longer period of time," she says.
DO: Wash Your Hair Before Getting it Colored
One of the most frequent myths that colorists hear is the misconception that a client needs to arrive at their appointment with dirty hair. It may not seem like a huge deal to arrive at the salon with oily roots, especially when we all know there are shampoo bowls at the ready, but colorists actually need clean, dry hair before they can begin working their magic. "I always ask clients to wash their hair the night before," says Pineda. This request, she says, will help prevent her clients from experiencing any scalp sensitivities the day of their appointment. "Washing your hair prior to an appointment allows barriers to be removed like sebum buildup, residue, or any pollution your hair may have absorbed since your last wash."
These barriers, when not removed beforehand, have the potential to prevent your color from evenly dispersing and penetrating into the hair shafts. "Color penetrates hair the best when it doesn’t have any obstructions it has to force itself through," Debski says. Instead of expecting products to work harder to break through those extra barriers, rely on clean strands to give you the best output. "Clean hair allows for a more consistent, accurate lift when your hair color is being lightened," says Pineda. "It may even shorten your appointment time."
DO: Limit Your Sun Exposure
Spending hours in the sun is surprisingly not the road to travel down for sun-kissed strands. In fact, too much sun exposure can make your hair color lose its vibrancy. "The sun's UV rays and heat will cause the pigments [in your hair] to minimize, which causes fading," explains Debski. So if you're going to be sunbathing on your next vaycay, make sure to pack your bucket hat.
DO: Exclusively Use Color-Safe Products
When you are ready for your first post-treatment wash, "I always recommend a color-safe shampoo and conditioner," Pineda tells us. If you're tempted to cut back on costs after dropping a lot of money on a professional color service, bear in mind that a color-safe shampoo and conditioner will only help you stretch your dollars by maintaining that new color with a healthy-looking vibrancy. "A $5 drugstore shampoo is not going to maintain your new hue correctly," says Rae, who recommends Pravana's Truity Cleanse and Condition because they protect hair color for 30 plus washes. "Plus, they are 95 percent naturally derived and smell like heaven in a bottle," she adds. Non-color-safe shampoos may potentially strip your hair, so opting for the extra protection will keep your hair in its healthiest state.