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How To Dye Curly Hair Without Damaging It Into Oblivion

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There's a certain level of skill required to dye curly hair, one that just any run-of-the-mill stylist might not have. With curls being so fragile, it's common for stylists to overexert the hair, leaving on the color longer than necessary or applying too much, causing serious damage to the curl pattern and the overall health of the strands themselves.

However, coloring curls is completely safe when done properly, according to Leanna Mejias, Colorist and Co-Founder of The Coily Collective at Riccardo Maggiore Salon in New York City. "Color damage comes from over-processing, products that are drying, and lack of aftercare," she says. "Color in general will not damage your curls, especially single process."

So ahead, check out to properly dye curly hair whether you're headed to the salon or in the comfort of your own home.

How To Dye Curly Hair: The Consultation

Sit down with you colorist to discuss the direction that is best for your texture. Still, there are still certain precautions to take when considering certain colors. "It all depends on your hair goals," Jaxcee, colorist and co-founder of The Coily Collective at Riccardo Maggiore Salon in New York City says. "For example, if you have a desire for vibrant curls and rapid hair growth, stay away from extremely light colors that require a double process, like silver. Silver requires your colorist to lift you hair to an extreme level of blonde, which isn’t conducive to maintaining or growing very long coarse curly hair."

Jaxcee insists that if a stylist can not clearly break down the step-by-step to obtain your desired color, they may be uninformed. Secondly, ask them if they know the ins-and-outs of aftercare. "Aftercare for natural is so essential, we can easily lose the elasticity of the curl," she says. "So if your stylist can give you product suggestions, as well as what to do to change your routine, that could be another problem."

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How To Dye Curly Hair: The Process

"This biggest misconception is that coarse, curly hair needs the strongest and harshest color products to process," Jaxcee says. "Coarse curls tend to be very fragile, and using high developers and harsh lighteners can cause the hair to over-process and break." This is why it's imperative for curly girls to keep away from at-home dyes, and opt for a professional familiar with the many dimensions of our complex hair texture."

However, if you do insist on at-home coloring, keep in mind that you should only do so if your desired color is in the realm of what your natural color already is. "Be sure to process an inch from the root, and then go back in and color your roots." This is what prevents "hot root," a signifier of a botched dye job, where the roots are processed faster than the rest of the hair shaft.

And depending on what color you're looking for, your hair may require a double process versus a single process. For double, it implies that the hair must be bleached first. With single processing, which is used to go slightly lighter or darker, just one sweep of dye is required.

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How To Dye Curly Hair: Aftercare

Color strips the hair of many natural oils, so replenishing the hair with moisture is imperative to preventing breakage. While wash days are usually more infrequent with curly and coarse textures, Jaxcee suggests one to two times a week following coloring, along with increaseddeep conditioning.

If you can, try to avoid the excessive use of oils. "Super emollient products tend to draw out color shades," Jaxcee says. "If your hair is red or pastel shades, those oils will release the color."

For Blondes

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"You want a great conditioner and to invest in a good bond builder product. It rebuilds the bonds in your hair from the color as well as environmental effects. Your curls will stay vibrant," Jaxcee says.

For Brunettes

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"If you're going brunette from a lighter hue, the color can easily fade so you need to invest in a color-protecting conditioner and mask," Jaxcee says, "It maintains luster and color."

For Red Heads

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"Because the color can be intricate, it's hard to match a color conditioner to a red," Jaxcee says. "So instead, invest in a great color-safe shampoo to combat fading."

For Black Hair

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"If hair is much lighter pre-black, it will be tremendously higher maintenance," Jaxcee says. "Your roots are going to be an ashy brown when they grow out, so hair may look more sparse. Focus on roots, and do not overlap the black too many times or it will be opaque."

For Bright Colors And Pastels

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"Because this will more than likely be the result of a double process, you need a color-safe shampoo, and a hydrating conditioner," Jaxcee says. "Make sure you're not washing your hair with sulfates to maintain the color as sulfates will break down the color, especially for bright and pastel colors."

How To Dye Curly Hair: Benefits Of Olaplex

"Moisture is king when it comes to pre- and post-color care," Jaxcee says. And Mejias echoes those sentiments. "After an extensive color service it is key to condition your hair in the shower two to three times a week," she says. "The more the better." So when the customers leave their chairs, both Jaxcee and Mejias highly suggest the use of Olaplex products. "I usually recommend my client use Olaplex #3 pre and post-color because it helps the hair retain moisture and also strengthens your strands. The products are not super heavy and have a smaller molecule so it enters the hair shaft and it doesn't leave a film on the curls. The technology is more enhanced and it penetrates the job better than old protein treatments."

And it's important to steer clear of shampoos whenever you can, to not dry out the hair. Instead, opt for a great co-wash with smaller molecules. "Mizani True Texture Cream Cleansing Conditioner is my new favorite co-wash for curly and coiled hair," Jaxcee says. "It has just the right amount of suds to make sure your hair and scalp are unclogged and clean without stripping your hair of its natural oils."