Optimum condition: preparing your hair for a colour transformation

Expert Advice - Colour

Optimum condition: preparing your hair for a colour transformation

23 Dec 2016

Image credit: Opal, unicorn hair on Victoria Genevieve, colour by Symon May, The Chapel (Tunbridge Wells)

Preparing hair for colouring will not only make sure you get the best result possible, but it will also ensure that your hair continues to feel healthy and look great. Any form of colouring process involves the use of chemicals, which alter your hair’s natural state. So, regardless of whether you’re just going for a light tint or complete colour transformation, it’s always important to prepare your hair so that it’s ready to take on the change. With this in mind here’s our guide to the few simple steps you need to take before overhauling your hair colour.

Skin test, The Chapel Tunbridge Wells
Image credit: Skin test, The Chapel Tunbridge Wells

Laying the foundations

Our first piece of advice is to make sure you see your stylist for a colour consultation. Here, they can give you guidance on how to best prepare your hair in advance of an appointment. Having a great base, which is tailored to your hair type and the sort of colouring process you are planning to embark on will increase longevity, and prevent excessive damage. It’s also important to book in a patch test before carrying out any colour service: you may have developed an allergy to a specific ingredient, or have.

Colour service at The Chapel, Tunbridge Wells
Image credit: Colour service at The Chapel, Tunbridge Wells

What effect will colouring have on my hair?

Dependent on the colour product you choose will depend on where the colour sits on the hair shaft. Permanent shades sit deep within, settling in the cortex, whereas more temporary colourants will lie on the cuticle. This explains how quickly the colour will fade dependent on the absorption into the hair. Bleach removes colour through a process called oxidation, raising the cuticle every time it is used. So if you’re looking to significantly lighten your colour, it’s vitally important to prepare the hair with care.

What should I do to prepare my hair?

Keep in mind your hair texture and type when thinking of colouring. You may need more than one colour session to achieve your desired result. Those with dark hair for example, if looking to lighten their tone, would need to gradually work up to lighter shades, using a bond strengthener such as Olaplex to help avoid damage along, with conditioning treatments to avoid dry and brittle hair.

A hot oil treatment is a great way to condition hair around a week before your colour service. Using warm oil and massaging the scalp helps to stimulate the scalp, condition the hair, and prepare it for colouring. On the day of colouring, don’t wash your hair. Having natural oils present will help the stylist achieve a more even colour result. Although if you are having highlights, keep hair clean to help the colour to lift. Your last wash before colouring the hair should be with a clarifying shampoo. This will help to remove any product build up and ensure your hair is clean.

If you have coloured your hair in the past, consider the way in which your new colour may be effected. In particular, henna colourants can often react negatively to chemical based colours, so always advise your stylist if you’ve used them in the past.

The porosity of your hair can also affect the finished result and how the colour develops. Porous hair allows colour molecules to penetrate easily, speeding up processing time and delivering a different result from what you might expect. An easy way to test the porosity of your hair is by running your fingers from the end of the hair to towards your scalp. If it feels bumpy this may mean you have porous hair and will need to take advice from your colourist to help get the best result without causing excessive damage.

Always have a cut before you colour, particularly if you are having a bespoke service such as balayage. The cut can change how the hair sits, and how strands fall. Plus you will remove any dry brittle ends and really show off your new tone the best way you can. If you are having an all over colour, your stylist may colour before cutting, but keep in mind, if you are going for a style overhaul you may be wasting time, and money colouring hair that won’t be there after your cut. Keeping hair in great condition by regular trims will ensure the ends of your hair take on colour with the same intensity as the rest of the hair shaft.

Close up of the finished result!
Image credit: Close up of the finished result!
Victoria Genevieve after her colour with Symon May, The Chapel (Tunbridge Wells)
Image credit: Victoria Genevieve after her colour with Symon May, The Chapel (Tunbridge Wells)

Completing the process

Colour looking fresh and vibrant? Despite preparing and embarking on the colour process, it’s important to continue your efforts. Maintain your colour by using products specifically for coloured hair and give your hair a regular pamper with a deep conditioning treatment. Try and leave hair a couple of days before washing to help lock in those colour molecules, and stick to a tepid temperature when washing. Looking for more advice on hair colour? Take a look around our expert advice section, or blog for more inspiration.