From subtle balayage, to dreamy pastels and peakaboo shades, we all love to switch up our hair. But the reality is that dyeing our hair can put some serious strain on its overall health – especially if you have curly hair. In fact, curls are notoriously fragile and prone to breakage, especially compared to straight hair. It often has to endure quite a lot of stress and manipulation from protective styling and detangling, which can cause breakage and dryness throughout the lengths and ends.
If you add artificial colour to it, i.e. permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes, then the hair is exposed to even more chemicals and stress than with styling alone, which can further induce damage. However, that is not to say that we curly-haired babes can’t colour our hair. We absolutely can, but there are a few things we must do to keep our curls healthy and still maintain the colour for as long as possible.
GLAMOUR had asked some experts for their top tips into caring for your coloured hair. Here’s what they had to say:
Can curly hair be coloured and stay strong/not lose its pattern?
“Yes absolutely – I’m a testament,” says Winnie Awa, founder of Carra, the personalised afro and textured hair service platform. “Pre-lockdown, I had pink, candy floss hair. However, colouring curls needs to be done responsibly as the hair is rather fragile and dyeing is a chemical process which raises the hair cuticle, making it more susceptible to dryness and breakage. In order to ensure that the hair remains strong, it is important to take extra steps to replenish the moisture and protein balance of the hair.”
Hairstylist to the stars and founder of hair brand Fekkai, Frederic Fekkai, agrees: “Curly hair can stay strong even when coloured, however, you need to ensure that you’re keeping your curls moisturised. In order for you to keep the structure and pattern of the curls. Colouring your curls may dry out the texture a little, but it will not eliminate the curl pattern at all.” Fekkai recommends using a curl redefine gel to protect the curl structure without stripping the colour.
Nick and Sean from The Hair Bros highlighted all of the above and added that virgin hair may require more added attention: “If your hair has not been coloured before, you could opt for a high lift tint instead, or perhaps a method of colour that doesn’t require using lots of bleach frequently. This could mean opting for balayage instead of highlights.”
Best tips to care for coloured curls at home and at the salon?
Colouring your hair for the first time should be done with a professional, when at home, Awa also recommends making deep conditioning and protein treatments your BFF. “Alternating these two treatments will help ensure that your hair is juicily moisturised. Make sure that they perform a strand test before starting the treatment and use an Olaplex treatment to protect against breakage.” Nick and Sean also promote a heat-less or heat-free routine. “Find a method of drying your hair that doesn’t require excessive heat.”
Frederic adds that a consistent hair routine is crucial for both coloured and chemically treated hair: “Always use a shampoo, conditioner and most importantly a mask, to make sure the colour stays intact and doesn’t fade away and the curls remain bouncy and wavy. Another tip is to use a deep mask treatment for a few hours a week, as this will put all the moisture back into curls.”
Things to avoid when you have curly coloured hair?
Awa advises us all to stay away from colour if you have chemically straightened hair. “Celebrity Stylist Dionne Smith once told me that if my hair was relaxed, she would not let me colour it. This is because the double chemical processing makes the hair especially vulnerable to damage and breakage.”
While, Fekkai reminds us of something some of us out there are guilty of — never brush or comb your curls when your hair is dry! “You must always make sure to use a water mist on your brush or comb before touching your hair, as this will help to retain the structure and avoid frizz.” In terms of ingredients Fekkai would encourage us to “avoid salt and chlorine water when possible.”
Nick and Sean also encourage us to stay away from any products that contain silicones, sulphates and alcohol. “Sulphates and Non-water-soluble silicones typically tend to strip/ dry out curly hair. The primary function of sulphates such as SLS are to clarify hair. This will strip the scalp of oils, create product build up and dirt which result in a very itchy scalp.” They also added: similarly, to sulphates, alcohols strip hair of moisture and essential oils leaving hair looking dryer and straighter.”
Product recommendations for coloured curls?
Picking colour safe strengthening shampoos and conditioners that prevent fading and still keep your colour vibrant and fresh is key. Awa says: “Be careful with styling products that have alcohol as this contributes to dryness and will cause your colour to fade prematurely. Use daily moisturisers with sunscreen to keep your hair protected.”
Although there are products out there for every hair type, no two heads are the same. Carra.Co, the brainchild of Winnie Awa was built with just that in mind. “If you are thinking of colouring your hair, or need support in caring for your coloured hair, sign up to speak to our expert Carra hair coaches.”
We have put together a list of 15 curl friendly colour products to help you achieve any shade you desire as well as look after your hair.