9 Hair Color Mistakes That Could Completely Ruin Your Hair
Blonde, brunette, or redhead—here's how to have the most vibrant, flattering hair color for you.
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Skimping out on quality products
Color-treated hair—whether it’s color-covered gray, platinum bleach blonde, or has just a few sun-kissed highlights—is more fragile than untreated hair. For this reason alone, it demands more care. “You can pay top dollar and have a top colorist working on your hair, but the minute you start using subpar products at home, it all, literally and figuratively, can go down the drain,” says Kali Ferrara, senior colorist at Roy Teeluck Salon in New York City. She recommends using a more moisturizing and nourishing shampoo, like Kérastase Bain Chromatique Sulfate-Free, that doesn’t contain sulfates in addition to an everyday conditioner that also treats the hair—and leave it on for two to three minutes. A weekly hydrating mask is also a must, Ferrara says. Here are the best hair masks for damaged hair.
Not using purple shampoo
Those deep violet shampoos that are advertised for blonde locks are for more than just show. “In the summertime I cannot keep them on my retail shelves! I sell them to every client, whether they’re blonde and like to keep it icy or a brunette and worship the sun and hate the brassiness that comes with it,” says Ferrara. “These shampoos contain a purple (cool) pigment that will cancel out any warmth your hair may incur between services.” She recommends using them once a week to keep color bright. But do be wary not to use them more often than that, as they can dry out your hair and deposit a blueish violet tone, warns Lauren Hack, hair colorist and co-owner of LAUREN+VANESSA salon in New York City. Her go-to: Davines Alchemic Shampoo Silver. “It has a great lather and gives your hair a beautiful luster.”
Going darker than natural to cover up grays
It might make sense to drown out whispering white and gray strands with a darker hue, but hair experts say this is a huge mistake. “This color can be so severe and harsh that it makes them appear to be older and witch-like,” explains Ferrara. “On the other hand, many women who are 60 to 100 percent gray find the regrowth shows less when they go with a lighter color. While this is fundamentally true, women often end up a drab looking dark blonde with zero dimension.” A good colorist will match your skin tone to the appropriate tone and depth, and often incorporate a few highlights to give movements and contrast. Here are other hairstyle mistakes that make you look older.
Highlighting like you’re still in the 90s
Chunky strips of highlighted hair might have looked great on Britney Spears back in the day, but they’re now heavily dated, experts say. “While heavy highlights were fashion-forward 20 years ago, the aesthetic as of late is a more natural, sun-kissed look achieved through balayage or baby lights,” explains Ferrara. In order to not look dated, she suggests opting for a more natural-looking approach to highlights, as these techniques grow out more organically and require less maintenance. If you’ve been seeing the same hairstylist for years (or decades), broach the topic of trying a more organic lightning pattern and see what he or she recommends for you. Check out these 12 beauty trends that never should have happened.
Not protecting your hair in the summertime
Just like the warmer weather requires you to up your skin-care protection, the same goes for your strands in the summer. Would you go in the sun without sunblock? “It is just as important to protect your color-treated tresses in the sun, chlorine, and salt water,” warns Hack. “This way your color won’t fade and your hair won’t become dry.” Prep your hair before you swim, and take care of it afterward. “If you are exposed to chlorine or mineral springs, wet your hair before you go in the water, apply conditioner, and consider a swim cap,” suggests Christine Thompson, celebrity hairstylist. She also recommends shampooing afterward with a special, sun-sensitive shampoo like Aveda Sun-Care Shampoo. “If you hair is really blonde, a swimming pool or Jacuzzi with lots of chlorine is your worst enemy, as the chemicals in the water can turn your hair green, yellow, or orange.
Having false expectations
“Often clients find hair inspiration in places like Instagram, magazines, and Pinterest,” explains Ferrara. “Unfortunately, just because a movie star or it-girl looks perfect as a platinum blonde or coppery redhead, does not mean it will look good on everyone. This is where those online tools that allow you to upload your photo and virtually “try on” celebrity hairstyles can really come in handy. “There’s nothing worse than looking at a new client and having to tell them their hair and skin are all one color, or having them not understand that their hair shouldn’t (or can’t) be their desired shade.” If you have a fair complexion she recommends going for a warmer (think strawberry or golden) hue to balance out your look. A warmer complexion balances out nicely with a more neutral look. Here’s the best hair color for your skin tone.
Not giving red hair extra care
Just as with blonde hair, red hair requires a little extra tender love and care. Hack admits that red hair is his favorite to color, but that she’s noticed many women don’t realize the extent of after-care that’s needed. “Red is the hardest color to keep lustrous and the hardest color to remove,” she adds. “If red is your thing, less is more when it comes to shampooing.” Avoid washing your hair for a whole 48 hours after having your hair colored red, or she warns that you’ll risk losing that vibrancy.”If your hair color fades but you’re not ready for a touch-up just yet, schedule a gloss with your colorist to bring back the depth and radiance.” Read up on these fun facts about redheads that make them unique.
Going darker in the winter months
Sun-kissed blonde strands are great for the summertime, but the opposite isn’t always true for winter—at least not for everyone, colorists say. “When the months start getting cooler and our tan starts to fade, many women think going darker with their hair is a great idea, but that’s not always the smartest move,” says Hack. “This works for some women, like those with an olive skin tone who can be both golden blonde and light brown no matter what season it is. But if you have fair skin and are naturally a dark blonde, continuing to enhance your color with blonde highlights will give you an all-over glow in the winter rather than wash you out.” Always consult with a professional to see what works best for your skin tone.
Keeping hair too dark around the face
“If you look at natural hair growth patterns in dark and light hair, the hair usually naturally grows in a little lighter around the hairline and face,” says Thompson. “If hair remains too dark all over, the effect is sometimes less flattering.” She recommends scheduling a consultation with a hair colorist to determine whether you should add dimension around the face, or if it’s an all-over base color that you can formulate slightly differently to great very subtle lighter base around the face. “This looks more natural and healthy and has a glowing effect.”