I am a hair color junkie.
While I’m too leery to chop off too much of my length, I am always up for experimenting with the color of my tresses. My natural hair is dirty blonde, but I’ve been platinum, strawberry blonde, auburn, golden brown, and one unfortunate winter, a jet black that left me looking washed out and sickly.
When it comes to dying my hair, I feel like I’ve done it all.
And while taking care of your hair the right way after you’ve dyed it is key to maintaining your color, I’ve also learned that what you do to your locks *before* you dye it can be just as important to how the color turns out.
That’s because prepping your hair allows the dye to develop better so you wind up with beautiful, vivid color instead of a dull, streaky, brassy shade. So if you’re not sure exactly what to do for your hair before you hit the salon or open a box of at-home dye, here are a few tips to help ensure that you wind up with the color of your dreams.
It may seem strange, but you shouldn’t wash your hair for two or three days before you plan to color it. That’s because the dye will adhere better to your locks and turn out more evenly if there are plenty of natural oils from your scalp on it. The oils also help coat your scalp, so you don’t have to worry about the dye burning or irritating the skin.
The final time that you do wash your hair before you color, though, use a clarifying shampoo like Pureology’s Purify Clarifying Shampoo. It will remove any buildup from hair styling products like mousse and gel more effectively than traditional shampoo, so there won’t be any residue on your locks to prevent the color from absorbing fully.
The healthier your hair is, the better it will take the color. That means you don’t want your locks to be dry, brittle, or frizzy before you dye it – and hitting it with a major dose of moisture is the easiest way to get it in shape. Two weeks before you plan to color, use a deep conditioning treatment or mask like the L’Oreal EverSleek Smoothing Deep Conditioner to help moisturize and smooth your locks so they’re ready to absorb the color.
Three or four days before you color, pamper your locks with a hot oil treatment like the V05 Hot Oil Therapy Intense Moisturizing Treatment to moisturize and condition your hair and prepare it for color.
In the weeks before you color your hair, treat it as gently as possible. Limit heat styling with your curling iron, flat iron, hot rollers, and blow dryer, which can dry out your locks and make them brittle so your color doesn’t turn out as even or bright as you’d like. Avoid swimming in chlorinated water for two weeks before you color too – chlorine can actually strip the hair cuticle and deposit minerals that will affect your hair color.