Why is it that colour treatments can result in damaged hair? Here you’ll learn why your fresh shade can become faded frizz, the symptoms to look out for, and the best hair care tips for damaged hair.
How does hair colouring work?
When colouring your hair permanently, particularly if taking it to a lighter shade, there are two main processes at work. First, a lightener is used to raise the pH level of your hair. This is so as to lift the cuticles – the protective layers of the hair shaft. The lightening agent also decolours your hair through oxidation, which acts on the natural melanin in your hair.
The next step is to give it a new colour. This is where your hairdresser chooses a personalised combination of pigments to create a unique combination. Different colour “recipes” can be applied on different sections of the hair to create a multi-tonal effect (balayage, for example). With the cuticles open and the hair lightened, the new colour penetrates the hair and sits along the cortex.
Why can hair get damaged from colour treatment?
Doesn’t sound very damaging so far, right? In fact, it isn’t if you get your hair coloured by a professional, and don’t overdo it. Chemically damaged hair is often the result of home-dying (because lightening agents need professional expertise to prevent damage and colour mishaps) or over-colouring.
Brittle hair can be caused by repeatedly lightening your hair (or leaving the chemicals on too long), which weakens the cuticles over time. They become more porous, letting out both the new colour and moisture. Quick-fading colour means you can be tempted to lighten more regularly, which in turn damages the hair even more and causes it to fade more quickly. It can be a vicious circle.
The Smartbond system by L’Oréal Professionnel can offer a way out of this. It offers a tailored service during the hair colouring process that protects and strengthens the hair bonds, supporting each fibre and making it better at retaining colour. The result is thick, healthy-looking hair with long-lasting colour.
What are the symptoms of damaged hair?
Colouring and over-styling (using heated tools) are the two main causes of hair damage. As you’ll see below, dry and damaged hair have similar symptoms, but they aren’t the same. Damaged hair from colouring is brittle, meaning it snaps easily. For blondes especially, this can cause the hair to look and feel coarse and straw-like. A tell-tale symptom of coloured damaged hair is a hint of brassiness soon after colouring: a sign that you hair isn’t able to hold its new colour, and is letting the original darker hair tone show through.
Where damaged hair snaps, dry hair fibres can’t hold their natural shape. Take a strand of hair, hold at both ends and pull gently. If it snaps, it’s most likely damaged, but if you release it and it doesn’t bounce back to its original shape, this is a sign of dryness. The cuticles might not be damaged, but the hair is lacking moisture to maintain its elasticity.
Hair care tips: how to repair damaged hair
Firstly, if your hair has been permanently damaged by colouring or heat, you need to give it a break. Cuticles can be smoothed, but internal damage of the hair structure is only resolved by letting new healthy hair grow and having regular cuts. While you let your hair recover, however, there are ways you can minimise the visible signs of damage, so you don’t have to put up with frizzy, brittle hair until it grows out.
Luckily, there is hair restoring treatment available to care for both damaged and dry hair concerns. For coloured damaged hair in particular, it’s important to have an everyday haircare routine that provides support to the hair fibre. The Absolut Repair shampoo and conditioner from Serie Expert have been specifically designed for damaged hair subject to daily stresses such as styling and the weather.
For hair that is brittle, dry and frizzy, we recommend using a hair serum as part of your routine to restore damaged hair. The same Absolut Repair collection by Serie Expert also offers a non-greasy smoothing serum formula to help soothe even the most damaged hair types. Simply apply a few drops down the lengths of towel-dried hair before blowdrying. And, for a deep-down treatment, the new lightweight Absolut Repair Gold mask contains Gold Quinoa Protein and cream-in-gel technology.
How to protect coloured hair when styling
Protecting your coloured hair doesn’t mean you can’t ever use styling tools. They’re often the best way to achieve gorgeous blonde waves, ravishing red curls or stunning sleek brunette locks, for example. You won’t have to banish your straighteners or curling tongs just because you have coloured hair that you care about... How? By start using heat protectant!
Heat protection like the new Absolut Repair 10 in 1 from Serie Expert not only prevents the damage caused by hot styling tools (which can weaken, break and even burn the hair fibre) but also helps revive damaged hair. It also offers lightweight conditioning to smooth damaged hair, which in turn reduces knots and tangling.
Smoother hair also means you’re less likely to cause further damage when brushing and styling, making your hair not only look and feel healthier, but make it easier to style into your dream look! Simply spray from root to tip onto part-dried hair and begin styling.
Hair care tips for drying coloured hair
Last but not least: remember to avoid brushing wet hair and rubbing with a rough towel, especially on coloured hair, as this can cause more damage. Instead, we recommend using a wide-toothed comb, and gently squeezing out excess moisture with a soft cotton t-shirt before drying on a low temperature.