Permanent hair coloring and how to make it last

I love colored hair and got it done once. But the chemical process involved makes me hesitate getting it done again. If there was a solution, then I would not have left a single color of the rainbow.  Read on and you will understand my inhibitions..



Why is your hair brown or black?
First of all, lets see where our hair gets its color from. We all know hair is made of three main layers – cuticle layer, cortex and medulla. Cortex is the middle layer of hair which is the primary source of mechanical strength of hair and uptake of water inside the hair. This is the layer which is responsible for our hair color. The cortex contains melanin, which colors the hair fiber based on the number, distribution and types of melanin granules. There are two types of melanin – eumelanin (responsible for darker hair shades like brown to black) and phaeomelanin (responsible for yellowish-blond and red colors). Absence of pigment produces white/gray hair.


Coloring process
Now you know which layer of your hair needs to be touched up to change your permanent hair color. The Cortex. So, to reach this layer cuticles need to be lifted so that the color can be deposited into the hair. An alkaline solution (in some cases ammonia) is used to lift the cuticles up. This is where hair damage starts to occur. Coloring is a two step process. First the hair’s natural color is removed using oxidizing agents like hydrogen peroxide. Continuing the previous damage of opening up the cuticle, peroxide leaves your hair very dry. Then in the second step a new permanent color is bonded to the hair cortex. This whole process takes some time that’s why your color sitting takes so long time. After using alkaline solution and peroxide, the hair is pretty much damaged at this stage. So, in the next step hair conditioner is applied to close down the cuticle, to remove the dryness and seal the new color inside.


My experience
I got my hair colored only once in my life. I loved the effect but it made my hair dry with time and made my curls loose. Now my hair has grown out and only colored hair left at the ends. Here is how my hair look now and colored around two years back. Just notice the difference between the curls.

Colored photo-asha

Things you can do to make it lasts
If you still color your hair then here are some tips that can help you to make it lasts longer. It is impossible to keep the hair color fresh looking for a longer time. Water is the main cause of fading color so that’s why you can not prevent your color to fade. But you can slow down the fading process by taking below steps.

  • Don’t wash your hair frequently.
  • Use sulfate-free shampoo or shampoo made specially to protect the hair color. These special shampoos contain ingredients like benzophenone-3, benzophenone4, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate or trademark combination of (Quaternium-95 and Propanediol) or (Butylene Glycol and Helianthus Annuus Seed Extract) etc to protect hair from UV rays. UV rays oxidize color pigments and aid in color fading. Here are some sulfate-free shampoos for colored hair that are available in India.

The body shop Rainforest Radiance Shampoo
Schwarzkopf BC Color Freeze Sulfate-free Shampoo
Schwarzkopf BC Color save Sulfate-free Shampoo

  • Some colors like red, oxidize faster than darker color shade like brown. So, ask for shades that lasts long.
  • Use lukewarm or cool water.
  • Cover your hair when you go out in the sun.
  • Do protein treatment at least once or twice a month.

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2 thoughts on “Permanent hair coloring and how to make it last

  • Vidya Naresh

    Hi Asha,

    You have mentioned that permanent colour damages the hair. I tried ur beetroot-henna treatment for grey areas but didn’t get that good result for my hair. My hair I think is 2b and is super dry.

    What do u recommend for covering the grey areas? Should I still go for permanent colour.

    PS: Henna-beetroot gave me the orange look and not burgundy 🙁

    • Asha Barrak Post author

      Yeah Henna-beetroot gives different shades to everyone. Have you tried Indigo-henna mix to cover grey. There is one article on the blog. If you dont find it let me know. I will post the link here.