Considering do-it-yourself hair color? Just don't

Joy Ross


Considering do-it-yourself hair color? Just don't

Judging by the consistent questions I've received about why salon hair color is better than coloring your own hair, I feel that I need to give everyone a bit of Hair 101. It includes chemistry.

Yes, we hairstylists have to know chemistry and alkalinity and acidity. It isn't as easy as you might think.

Of course, do-it-yourself color might come out okay if directions are followed - for a while. But consider the following.

It's impossible for me, a hairstylist for 28 years, to color my own hair. I know what I'm doing; however, applying the color without overlapping is virtually impossible. I can't see the back and top of my head. Nor can you see yours.

Overlapping is a huge problem. When you apply hair color, it actually lifts the pigment out of your hair and deposits the color from the box into your hair. That's great - for a while.

Then the color from the box washes out or fades, and the brassy raw pigment that was your brown hair is shining like a beacon - not pretty.

The primary pigment in brown hair is red. That's why you see red brass. So you color it again and overlap again. Now the band of new growth is colored, and the brassy band is covered with color too. Great, until that fades.

Now there are two bands of raw pigment. One is brassier because it's been lifted out twice, the other one once. And so on and so on into hair color hell. Color correction at the salon costs more money.

Also, the boxed color is flat and one-dimensional - I don't care what the commercials say. The FDA doesn't regulate them, so they are chemically unstable.

As for the pH, the hair, when virgin, has a pH of 4. The hair color has to bring the pH up to allow the color to deposit itself into the hair. Salon color and products are mostly pH balanced to bring the pH back down to make the hair shiny and close the cuticle. (Refer to my article on Feb. 14 about cuticle and shiny hair.)

All of this involves knowledge of the hair's makeup and chemistry.

Like I said, you can get away with covering up the mistakes and damage for a while, and you can walk around with one dimensional, flat, yucky color.

Or you can pay a professional who knows what she is doing to give you healthy, beautiful color.

You will end up saving money in the long run. I promise.

Joy Ross is owner of Style It Salon in Old Town Bluffton. www.styleitsalon.com