Some hair coloring misconceptions clarified

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Dear Scott: My hair color job looks all one color like a wig. I have gray hair and I get my roots touched up every four weeks. Am I having it done too often? Is that why it looks like a wig?

Answer: Your hair should not look like a wig.

Imagine what an unfinished piece of wood looks like. All of it is pretty much the same color, with a grain of some sort in it. If you paint the piece of wood with ordinary paint, it will be the color of the paint that has been used, changing the unfinished piece of wood to a solid color.

On the other hand, if you were to use a stain to color the wood, it would enhance the original color of the wood while leaving the grain visible and enhance the color of the grain at the same time.

Gray hair is usually many different shades of gray within the same head of hair. It is rarely all one color, so by using a stain type product for hair coloring, it is easy to replicate the wood graining example, making it possible to achieve different variations of color with a single application. If the product being used is designed to totally cover gray hair, the results will be flat and one dimensional.

Four weeks is normal for touching up your roots. Hair generally grows about ½ inch per month, so if you don’t want everyone to see the gray, a retouch is necessary about every four to six weeks. Also, most colors and stains require heat from the scalp to process. If you let the gray grow out too much, it can complicate the coloring.

Dear Scott: I get my hair highlighted and lowlighted. It seems like a lot of damage is being done to my hair. I have brown hair and I want it to look highlighted a little but it always ends up too blonde even with lowlights and my roots show after two weeks. They put in lowlights that look brassy and I always end up feeling like my hair is damaged. Is there a way I can get highlights without the lowlights and not be so blonde?

Answer: I’m not sure what happened to the terminology here. “Lowlights” are strands of hair that are darker than your natural color used to create depth. Lowlighting processes should rarely need to be done. If lowlights are being used to add other colors of blonde on your brown hair, it is still highlights and it sounds like you are getting too many of them.

Lowlights are done as a corrective color step to reverse the hair to a darker shade or used to correct hair that has been made too blonde in the highlighting procedure. If you have brown hair already, all you should need is a simple foil touch up. The only lowlighting necessary would be a one time thing just to change some of the blonde back to its natural color. In reality, the way you are having your hair done, all of the hair is being lightened. That is why your roots show after a few weeks instead of needing a touch up every few months the way it should be.

Tip of the week: Unless somebody makes your hair a crazy color that you just can’t stand, give the colorist a few chances to get to know your hair before giving up on them.

SCOTT TERWILLIGER IS AN AIKEN SALON OWNER. HE CAN BE REACHED AT SCOTT.TERWILLIGER@HOTMAIL.COM.


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