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Questions about hair color

Suzanne in ABQ

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So, I have mostly brown hair, with noticeable silver "highlights".  They're not streaks, but a scattering of silver hairs all over my head.  


I love the new trend of hair color with bright colors hidden in the lower layers of natural colored hair.  I have never lightened or permanently colored my hair.  I like my "virgin" hair, and I'd rather not "lift" or "lighten" or "bleach" it, but I understand that my dark brown hair won't allow the vibrant peacock colors I'd love to add.  


I do, however, have all these colorless strands of silver/clear/white hair.  


My question, is it possible to use a semi-permanent, semi-transparent hair dye to add vibrant color to the silver strands, leaving the brown hair mostly brown?  Does gray hair color easier than pigmented hair?  


How long do those bright colors last?  Will the bright colors fade to nothing, or do they just get ugly?  Does it cost more than regular highlights/lowlights?


My other question is, how to pick a colorist.  My hair stylist is amazing.  He does a beautiful job on my hair, and all my kids' hair.  He does magic with a razor cut.  But, I've never seen him do color on anyone.  It's possible that he delegates color to the other stylists in his shop (he owns the shop).  How do I pick a colorist?  What questions should I ask?   

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I would ask your hair stylist for a recommendation for a colorist. I DIY and my natural hair color is jet black with red streaks (no idea why but same as my maternal nephew). When I dye, the white hair gets dyed to whatever I happened to fancy while my jet black hair stays jet black. The color last about three months and fade to nothing, and my hair is coarse. My mom's hair is fine and color fades faster for her so she has to use permanent dye if she wants to color her hair.

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One thing that might happen if you dye the whole head is that the brown will have a colored look in the sunlight.


I think how it fades depends a lot on the original product and your hair color. For example, in the past when I've bleached my hair sometimes it came out coppery instead of blond. Or maybe it just looked coppery after the red faded when I dyed chunks red. When I dyed mine purple it lasted a few months but only because I used a higher quality dye (and reds are notorious for fading anyway). You can get some of the higher quality dye online these days. I was able to do it at home because a friend had a tube leftover from her stylist. Eventually it just got stuck on this really faded purple or light brown and I couldn't.get.rid.of.it. I resorted to getting it all dyed black (my natural color is almost jet black).


In short, it's hard to say how it will fade but don't count on it fading beautifully. And don't count on the length of time it will hold its vibrancy. That will depend on type of shampoo you use, how often you wash it, etc. You may want to start looking for sulfate-free color friendly shampoos & conditioners.


As far as good color stylists... I might ask other customers (outside of the shop doors) before broaching it with my stylist if I'm afraid they won't give me the nitty gritty answer. They might hate to send you to another location even if another location has a more experienced colorist. And I'd want someone that had experience with the types of dyes you like, specifically the peacock colors or whatever. "I have tons of experience with hair coloring" might translate to, "I've never dyed anyone's hair unnatural colors."

Edited by heartlikealion
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(Licensed cosmetologist)


It's very likely your white/grey hair will do fine with a bright color. It would be nearly impossible to only color the grey, so whatever you use will also affect the rest of your hair, but not as bright. But if you use semi or demi permanent color your natural hair color won't be permanently altered.


How intense th color appears will depend on the product itself (what it was designed to so) and the condition of your hair. Grey hair is usually more resistant to color, but if you use harsh shampooos, swim, blow dry, flat iron, hot roller, or spend a lot of time in the sun, it may be porous and hold the color better.


Because many bright colors are semi- or Demi-permanent, you can get very good results at home, pretty much the same as a salon. Here is a basic overview defining types of hair color... it isn't just the brand name, for example Clairol has permanent, semi, Demi, etc. https://www.sallybeauty.com/beauty-hints/BEAUTYSOLUTIONS_HAIRCOLOR_HAIRCOLOR101,default,pg.html


The bright colors will take better over bleached hair due to both the lighter hair color needing to be covered and also due to increased porosity of the hair, allowing more dye to penetrate. But they'll still work on your natural hair. My iPad is being goofy, I can't get to specific products, so here is a link to semi/demi colors. http://www.sallybeauty.com/semi-permanent-haircolor/Hair05-02,default,sc.html Easiest to use would be Jazzing: no mixing, comes in an applicator bottle. Most Demi permanent colors need to be mixed with a developer. Follow directions whether to apply to washed or unwashed hair.


How long the color lasts (whether you do it yourself or at a salon) will depend on many factors: How often you shampoo, which shampoo you use, if you're in the sun/tanning booth it will fade faster, hot water opens cuticle layer of hair allowing dye molecules to wash out more easily. So it could fade in a week, could hang on for months.


Good luck! PM me if you have any questions!

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I just did this over the summer.


I have the *exact* same situation - dark hair, lots of silver/gray strands all over. I've never colored my hair and am not really interested in "covering the gray."


I talked to the stylist and he suggested that I bleach some strands and do bright colored highlights and we'd see if the silver would take the bright, crazy color. So we did. It was really fun. But the main thing to know was that the color only lasted a few months. And, I have to say, it faded from my gray hairs really fast. Much faster than from the bleached out highlights, which was something the stylist had warned me was possible. I recolored it myself once. It didn't last that long after I did that. I may do it again. We'll see.


I have the sense that reds take better than blues and purples. But they might also coat your darker hairs some.

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