How to care for dyed hair
Whether you like to experiment with all colours of the rainbow or simply enhance what your mother gave you, coloured hair can be high-maintenance. Here's the lowdown on delivering TLC to hardworking, coloured hair and getting the results you want.
Understanding dyed hair
Understanding how chemical dyes affect your locks is the first step to finding the best products to keep it in great condition. Your hair is formed of three layers: the outer cuticle, a middle layer called the cortex, and the inner medulla. These layers protect your hair and determine strength and colour. Natural blondes may naturally lack a medulla layer, meaning their hair may be finer than that of brunettes. When it comes to synthetic dye, it is the cortex that we are particularly interested in.
This layer contains a natural pigment called melanin, which determines your hair’s natural colour. In order to alter this shade, synthetic dyes must open the cuticle a little to penetrate the cortex and change the pigment. As your hair’s natural oil, sebum, then struggles to travel down the coarser cuticle, this process can leave your hair feeling more dry and brittle than usual.
Even our hair deserves a treat every now and then
Booking in some time for hair TLC is a good place to start taking care of coloured locks. After all, your hair works hard and so do you, so why not settle down midweek with a nice hot brew, your favourite book or TV series and a DIY hair treatment? Inspired by Belgian hot chocolate sticks, these fun hot oil hair treatments are the ultimate indulgence. Daniel Campbell, cosmetic scientist and product inventor, states: "Hair is exposed to the elements, so needs to be tended and cared for and of course it’s a really lovely thing to do."
Simply stir sumptuously into a mug of boiling water until the treatment has fully melted into a thick, opaque syrup which will thicken as it cools. Whilst you wait for your treatment to cool down enough to apply, pop your feet up, take a deep breath and relax.
Unlike many hair treatments, you’ll be applying the hot oils to dry hair. Applying before your hair is wet gives your locks a better chance of drinking up all the essential oils, fresh fruit and vegetables within. Wrap your hair in a warm towel and leave the ingredients to work their magic for twenty minutes (the perfect amount of time to enjoy a fresh facemask).
Knowing what to plump for is a case of knowing what’s on the menu, but when colour-changing, chameleon hair needs a little va va voom or is simply feeling a little tired, H.O.T hot oil treatment is a small saviour. Containing three hair-nourishing oils capable of enhancing shine and improving the hair’s elasticity without weighing it down, H.O.T is a wonderfully reparatory treatment. Olive oil is especially clever as it increases the tensile strength of the hair, giving each strand a little more stretch when you brush. Meanwhile, hydrating avocado and vitamin packed almond oil work to make hair happy and healthy again through, and a comforting vanilla scent helps to brighten moods.
If you aren’t a fan of DIY, specialist treatments for coloured hair include H’Suan Wen Hua and Jasmine and Henna: products you can get stuck into without boiling the kettle. The former is made with organic, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh banana and avocado to strengthen damaged hair and deliver moisture to dehydrated ends. Bay leaf infusion and cinnamon leaf boost your roots and revive the overall condition of your hair.
When your hair is singing ‘I’m all dried out’, wine and dine it with Jasmine And Henna: a vibrant party of some of nature’s richest ingredients. Red henna infusion protects colour and delivers glossy shine to thirsty tresses, brazil nut oil brings moisture, wheatgerm is rich in restorative vitamin E which maintains healthy hair and a mixture of olive, hemp and soya oils strengthen your mane. This lavish treatment will put you back in control of your hair, protecting and conditioning it without adding any colour.
Simply apply these two treatments to dry hair and leave for twenty minutes for best results. Treat yourself to a hair pampering once a week for plenty of hair care brownie points - you deserve a pamper after all.
Cleanse your hair with care
In order to counteract brittleness, try using a hydrating shampoo on your coloured hair and picking ingredients that will care for your scalp too - an essential step in maintaining healthy hair from root to tip. As Daniel Campbell notes: ‘If you begin to learn which ingredients give certain effects then you can start to choose a full hair menu to give you the effects you want’.
The exotic cocktail of sea salt, fresh mint and papaya in Rehab shampoo cleanses the hair and boosts circulation to the scalp, for when you want your hair to feel strong, look shiny and maintain body. As jojoba and extra virgin olive oils improve the hair’s tensile strength - meaning it’s easier to brush - take the time to really work the lather into the scalp to give your skin all the benefits of stimulating fresh mint and restorative rosemary.
And there’s nothing funny about Fairly Traded Honey. Beeswax deeply hydrates and restores hair for the shiniest locks in the land, whilst bergamot oil brings out colour for a queen bee finish. The high content of honey acts as a natural preservative for this product and gently cleanses the scalp without stripping the skin of moisture - perfect for soothing any skin or hair-related tantrums.
Packed with an array of nutrient-rich, hair loving essential oils, fruits and butters, solid shampoos are a packaging-free alternative to their traditional liquid counterparts. Product inventor and Lush co-founder Helen Ambrosen explains: "Solids have always been an interesting artistic challenge. Shampoo bars grew out of trying to make a pressed soap but instead we realised that we’d created a beautiful solid shampoo that didn’t require packaging, was equal to about 80 washes, and also didn’t need a synthetic preservative."
For a deep clean, drench hair in a shampoo bar that smells like fresh lemonade on a hot summer’s day. Montalbano is brimming with balancing rosemary to care for the scalp, fresh lemon juice for blindingly shiny hair and green olives to strengthen the hair cuticles. You will be left with superhero strong hair that is ready for anything.
Your hair mission? Incredible condition
Once your hair has been gently cleansed, give it back moisture and shine with your chosen colour-friendly conditioner. Conditioners work by coating the hair strands in an anti-static charge, pushing the cuticles of the hair down and locking in moisture. The cuticles on chemically dyed hair can sometimes become disjointed, making it difficult for sebum (the oil produced by your scalp) to reach the ends of the hair. Conditioners counteract this by delivering moisture to the ends of the hair where it is needed most, making sure your colourful locks remain soft and sleek at all times. Daniel Campbell explains: "You don’t necessarily need to use conditioner around the scalp, because the scalp already produces sebum, our body’s natural oil. Therefore it is recommended we use conditioner through the ends of the hair because it takes longer to get from the root all the way down to tip."
You may choose to deliver some serious thirst aid to your hair, or opt for a lighter formula to maintain body. Consider how your hair feels and the style you want to achieve. You may also choose to mix it up but deep condition regularly to impart softness and shine to treated locks.
For light touch days, neroli-rich Happy Happy Joy Joy moisturises porous hair to leave it stronger, healthier and smelling divine. With grapefruit and orange blossom for lustrous shine, rose to help soothe troubled scalps and almond milk, this lightweight, beautifying tonic will leave your hair soft and silky. As an added boost, neroli oil is said to lift spirits with its cheerful, floral scent.
For hair that needs a little more loving, honey water and lavender are here to help. American Cream is intensely hydrating and balancing, keeping roots and scalp content: a thick conditioner for those guys and gals who want reels of satiny, flowing hair. On top of this it has an enticing strawberries and cream scent, rich with vitamin C for healthy hair and with a squeeze of orange juice to add gloss. Your hair will look top dollar.
Alternatively, Retread strikes a happy balance between body and hydration. With a light agar agar base to help revive weary hair, this midweight conditioner also contains avocado and neroli oil to help hydrate split ends and prevent further damage. Light enough that it won’t saturate the hair, but rich enough to give a much-needed hit of hydration, this lovely conditioner will help hair return to balance.
Or perhaps you would rather butter up your hair with a leave-in conditioner full of seriously hydrating oils and butters? Revive is rich in creamy Fair Trade cocoa butter, olive oil for increased elasticity and organic avocado and cupuacu butter, helping to deliver moisture right to the ends of the hair. Revive can also be massaged into the scalp as it incorporates bay oil to stimulate hair growth and fresh oat milk to soothe and calm. A little goes a long way with this product but each strand will be thanking you afterwards.
A heads up on henna
As discussed, there are plenty of effective ways to care for synthetically dyed hair, but, if you are searching for an alternative, plant-derived dye, henna delivers permanent, natural colour. Originating from the Middle East, this natural dye works as a varnish which protects rather than penetrates the hair cortex, in contrast to a chemical dye. As Mark Constantine trichologist and co-founder explains in his book Herbal Hair Colouring: "Henna adds red shining colour to the body colour of the hair. If the body colour is black, then after an hour or so henna gives a shine and red tones. If brown, the hair becomes auburn and if blonde or white, an orange-red."
Learn more about this type of natural dye here.
If you are dye-hard about colour, there’s a whole host of products to help defend your locks against damage. Why not take your pick? Or, if you like it blonde, take a look at how to treat fair hair with care here.