Permanent dye: Permanent dye deposits color into your hair shaft. The solution most likely contains hydrogen peroxide and ammonia to open up the cuticle and drive the color molecules into the hair. Unless a full bleaching process is required to change the hair color, permanent dyes are less damaging than lifting (colorists’ fancy word for bleaching). However, the cuticle (the outside layer of hair) still gets roughed up a bit. Leave-in conditioners can help smooth the cuticle, which increases shine and helps your hair hold on to color for longer.
Unless you have extreme color fade, it’s not necessary to color your entire head every time. Just concentrate on the roots. If you repeatedly darken your entire head, your ends will get darker over time. That’s because your hair gets more porous toward the ends, and porous hair absorbs more color. This is the opposite of the natural look—natural hair is darker at the roots and subtly fades lighter as it grows out. If your hair looks brassy, counteract it with a cool-toned gloss (also know as toner), which will restore your color without depositing more pigment.
Lifting: While the results can be gorgeous when you lift your hair all over (lifting is colorists’ fancy word for bleaching), the process is super-damaging to your locks. Lifting requires hydrogen peroxide to strip the natural color, which increases porosity and raises the scales on the hair’s outer layer. This leads to less shine, more breakage and chronic dryness. Get thee a protein-rich hair mask, stat! Protein is a natural polymer that attaches to the hair, helping to fill in damaged areas. It forms a smooth, light coating that’s great for any hair type.
If you repeatedly lift, or lighten, your hair, it will get more porous over time and eventually become prone to severe breakage. Focus the color on your roots, and if the rest of your hair gets brassy, counteract it with a cool-toned gloss (also know as toner), which will restore your color without stripping your hair.
Highlights: Highlights lift, aka bleach, the hair—a process that requires hydrogen peroxide to strip the natural color. This increases porosity, leading to less shine and more breakage. With highlights, you’re not lifting your entire head of hair, which does minimize the amount of potential damage, but it’s important to treat your highlights with tender loving care to prevent as much breakage as possible. Get in the habit of using a protein-rich hair mask regularly. Adding protein back into the hair will help fill in the holes and decrease breakage.
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