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3 Easy Ways to Maintain Vibrant Hair Color At Home

12:50 AM

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So...you took the color plunge, eh? Good for you! Getting hair color is fun, shocking, and can totally give you a new outlook on your sense of style and hair. Out with the old natural hair rules -- do you boo! Take it from me, I've done the hair color dance for several years now:

In 2007...I went bright red after a spell with auburn/dark blonde.

In 2008, I cut it all off and went full blonde (I'll never do that again).

And here in 2010, I had pretty much grown out all of 2008's blonde, got bored, and dyed the front/center area blonde again (I'm surprised I didn't go blonde this time around lol). By the way, that immaculate face beat is courtesy of +Danielle Jones , MAC Artista and MUA extraordinaire -- @deevajones on Insta. Yes, the same Danielle that gave me my face beat for the Afrolicious Expo.


I've also had black hair, purple hair, green hair (kind of an accident that worked out around Halloween time in my favor), reddish-orange hair, deep burgundy red hair, and a few other colors I can't remember.

Now that we've taken a stroll down Christina's pre-natural memory lane, let's get back to the topic at hand: maintaining vibrant color on your natural hair at home.

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Annnnd here we are in December 2014  & January 2015.
Clearly in the years prior to going natural, I wasn't terribly concerned with maintaining the health and structural integrity of my hair. I wanted color, and I wanted it now (then). But now that I am completely natural, I care way more about not damaging my texture (any more than color does damage it anyway) and keeping as much of my hair attached to my head as possible. Many naturalistas with dyed tresses (I'm talking ammonia-based colors, bleaches for lifts, etc.) will re-up their color every few months or so just to keep up appearances -- and I'm not here to knock anybody or anything that works. But what I do know is that color damage from repeated use of harsh dyes is real -- it can wreak havoc on the strength of your strands, jack up your porosity, cause breakage, and fade. Essentially, it can have you wondering why you even bothered in the first place.

But if you exercise proper care (I'll be doing a post or video on that soon), you can have a healthy relationship with hair color that doesn't result in a second or third big chop (unless you're in to that kind of thing). You don't even have to sacrifice vibrancy. Here are 3 easy ways to maintain gorgeous, vibrant, healthy-looking hair color at home (without harsh chemicals):

1. Ayurvedic Powders

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Powders like henna, cassia, and indigo are truly Godsends if used appropriately. If you have dyed your hair somewhere in the blondes, reds or blacks, you can definitely make use of these all-natural powders to amplify and restore your color. Natural indigo is derived from plants that produce the dark bluish color, and when applied to hair, it creates a dynamic, shiny black with tons of depth. While I don't have tons of experience with indigo, Shelli of Hairscapades does, and can walk you through her indigo dye process here. Henna, like indigo, is an all-natural powder made from the ground lawsonia inermis plant that releases a red stain when it comes into contact with hair. It won't seem like much more than a natural cellophane on dark hair, but if you've had your hair dyed red, it is a wonderful alternative to re-ignite that fiery color. In fact, henna applications are how I maintain my own red color. Click here for my recipe! I henna about every 4-6 weeks, for scalp health, hair health, and now, hair color :) Natural cassia is also plant derived, from the cassia obovata plant which contains a golden yellow dye molecule. Cassia, while making dark hair shine naturally, can revive and restore shades of blonde.

To compare with the picture above of my present-day fiery red, here's my red hair before I began to henna over it (picture taken November 9th, only a few weeks post-dye job):

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It surely is red, but not red like this:

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Note: If you decide to venture into the wonderful land of powders, be sure what you're getting is PURE. There are indigo, henna, and cassia dyes that are not 100% natural and contain synthetic ingredients that will react horribly with dyed hair. Please, please, PLEASE investigate the brand first. Mehandi.com is a wonderful resource for pure powders. I personally use Jamila Body Art Quality Henna for my hair, which I purchase through eBay.

2. Cellophane/Semi-Permanent Dye


If you're not into the DIY mixtressing (which I totally understand), or have a really intense color, cellophanes (also called semi-permanent dyes) may be right up your alley. Cellophanes come in a wide variety of colors, and can be used to intensify and restore virtually any hair color. I know many of you probably haven't been near a cellophane since your days at the hair shop, but trust me when I say there's nothing wrong with cellophaning your natural hair. All cellophanes really do is coat and condition the hair. Yes, they do contain silicones (which is the most active conditioner in the product), but they wash out over the course of several cleansings, and do not in any way impact the ability to keep the hair moisturized. An added benefit of cellophanes is that they can provide a color coating, which will help restore your color to its former glory. You can use clear cellophane for a shine boost (or as a heat protectant if you're going to straighten), or get a colored cellophane that is about 2 shades lighter than your current hue. I personally love the Ion Color Brilliance line of semi-permanent dyes at Sally Beauty. I've used Ion brand more than any other over the years, and got consistently great results.

3. Color Depositing Conditioners


Rather than be a once a month or every few month deal, color depositing conditioners are something you can incorporate every wash day to make your dyed tresses last longer. Just to make it clear, there's a difference between conditioner for color treated hair, and a color depositing conditioner. Conditioners for color treated hair are good, and help maintain color to a degree by keeping your cuticles flat, and keeping the color in (as much as it can). Color depositing conditioners, on the other hand, gently deposit color (via coating it) while it sits on your hair. It can restore vibrant reds, browns and blondes. I've used color depositing shampoos and conditioners (back when I did my stint as a redhead in picture #1 and as a blonde thereafter), and found much success in their ability to keep my hair color from going ashy after a few weeks. Check your local beauty supply for color depositing conditioners to incorporate into your natural hair regimen.

Lastly, to help you maintain your color better while at home, consider the following:
  • Less shampooing, more cowashing. Shampoo lifts the cuticle of the hair gently during cleansing, and conditioner restores the cuticle layer by laying it flat. Cowashing is an effective cleansing method that can be used between shampoos to help minimize the amount of color that bleeds.
  • Use cooler water on wash day -- because hair cuticles do react to heat, more of your color can bleed in hot water, and it can also cause more porosity issues (aka dryness and rough hair). Use water as cool as you can muster. It doesn't have to be ice cold (although if you can take that, I salute you), but lukewarm to cool is best.
  • Incorporate more pH-balanced products (or lower pH products) into your overall natural hair regimen. Low pH products help the cuticle lie flat, preserving the integrity of the hair, and keeping more of your color inside the shaft. ApHogee, Koils By Nature, Obia Natural Hair Care, and Bee Mine all make pH balanced products for your overall hair care regimen. 
That's it and that's all, ladies! What home color-boosting methods will you be trying to restore your vibrant natural hair color?

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9 comments

  1. I plan on trying Henna for the 1st time this weekend. I am nervous but waaaaaaay more excited. I cannot get over how beautiful your hair is! #curlsandcolor so awesome.

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  2. First of all, I want your hair! So pretty. I have am natural and have been wanting to color it but am hesitant to do it at home and don't really want to spend hundreds at a salon. Good tips here for when I finally take that plunge. #blmgirl

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  3. Last year I got the itch to have my hair dyed an ombre color (brown to blonde). My hair has always been very dark and I always wanted to see how I would look with lighter hair. I went to salon because I knew that bleach would be required to lift my dark hair color and I did not want to attempt to color it myself. As soon as my hair was rinsed I immediately knew that I had made a BIG mistake. Although the color was gorgeous, the first thing i noticed was that my hair wasn't nearly as thick as before. But even more distressing was how the bleach changed my curl pattern. My pretty coils were now straight at the ends. I tried deep conditioners and protein treatments to no avail; my hair just would not curl. I tried to compensate by using perm rods to curl my ends and trimming my hair but soon realized that a second big chop was best to keep my sanity. I learned a hard but valuable lesson; my hair does not like bleach. I know this was a long post but I just wanted to share my experience. I love your hair color! I may try henna next but I will definitely research and make sure that I don't do something that will set me back again on my hair journey. Thanks for this great post, it was very helpful.

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  4. Lindsey, I'm so sorry to hear about your setback. Blonde is definitely one of those polarizing colors -- either it works and your hair is okay, or it isn't. But on the up side, at least you have that information firsthand -- and any time you get the itch, you can remember this! Honestly, after this experience with red dye, I'll probably stay away from color for a while too. It didn't change my texture too drastically, it was really graual. If I hadn't caught it when I did, I might be joining you on the chop crew. Thank you for sharing!!!

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    Replies
    1. Christina is the 2nd pic the henna or dye...Im confused

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    2. It's dye with henna to refresh it - if we're looking at the same pic. Red, right?

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  5. Thanks #BLMGirl! Salon dye jobs can be expensive -- and I'm honestly on the fence about them. My gut says always see a professional, but in the back of my mind I know that a professional can't even predict the outcome (because each head of hair responds so differently). My color was even a gamble, with a stylist that specializes in color. Good luck :)

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  6. Thank you hon! Just remember, this is henna over dyed hair so it was already lightened red. Henna just intensified it. But at any rate, on dark hair henna acts like a back in the day cellophane -- you'll see a reddish tint in the sunlight :) It's definitely messy -- so have plenty of towels handy and use gloves. Let me know how it goes!!!

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  7. I've been researching like a mad scientist for over a year trying to get as much knowledge as I could before plunging in! A tint is nice but I'm really striving for the thickness, shine & durability I kept/keep reading about. I sure will! Thanks!

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