How to Care for Dyed Hair

Understand the three colour processes, the products for coloured hair and how to treat coloured hair

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.

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, its important to have an everyday haircare routine that provides support to the hair fibre. The Absolut Repair Molecular routine is perfect for damaged to very damaged hair as it repairs hair down to the molecular level. The Absolut Repair Molecular shampoo, rinse off serum, and leave-in mask are specifically designed to treat damaged hair.

For hair that is brittle, dry and frizzy, we recommend using absolut repair 10-in-1 oil to help soothe even the most damaged hair types.

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 that seen in the Metal Detox concentrated Oil, or the SteamPod Smoothing treatment

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.