Hair Coloring 101

Here’s a list of words you need to know about hair coloring before you make the trip to the salon or try one yourself at home.

Hair. It is made up of keratin and melanin, eumelanin and pheomelanin, which determine the colors. A mixture of these is dictated by your genes resulting in your hair color. Eumelanin is responsible for darkness while pheomelanin creates light colors.

Color. The color you see on the hair is the reflection of the light on the pigments. That is why there is a tendency for hair to appear to have a different color under a different light. Black hair reflects least.

Tone. It refers to the the color’s warmth, coolness and natural shade.

Levels. Colors are labeled by numbers according to the lightness and darkness. Black hair for example is 1. When changing your hair color, experts advise to pick two levels higher or lower than your hair color.

Hair Color. When choosing the color of the dye, you have to consider if you need to lighten or darken your hair. If you’re tired of your black hair, you will have to lighten it. So pick colors above 1.

Colorant. A hair dye usually contains a set consisting of a colorant and a developer. The colorant is the dye that will react with the developer.

Developer. A developer brings out the color of the hair by acting as an oxidizing agent. This process takes a maximum of 30 minutes for the color to bind to the strands.

Forms. There are three different forms of hair color to choose from. These are mousse, gel and creme. Mousse is the easiest to apply and works like a shampoo, gel lasts longer while creme is ideal for covering graying hair.

Single-Process Color. It means applying one color toner to the hair once. Double-process color on the other hand is the bleaching and then the hair toning, a process done when lightening hair for more than two levels.

Permanent Hair Color. This process changes the pigments in your hair strands by opening the cuticle and then depositing the color. It cannot be washed but will fade over time. If you have graying hair however, your roots will have a noticeably different color.

Semi-Permanent Color. This dyeing process fades within a short time and cannot lighten hair color. The color is deposited only on the surface of each of your hair strands. Others call this tint or rinse.

Henna. This dye covers only the cuticle of the hair, but the resulting color will depend on your hair’s base color. It’s a bit messy to apply and should not be used when you’re planning a permanent dye after henna.

Deposit Only Color. This is also called demi-permanent color. It lasts longer than semi-permanent color and cannot lighten hair color. It has the qualities of both permanent and semi-permanent.

Highlights. Individual sections of the hair are lightened. This is done through the following: foil highlights, piercing or chunking, balayage or painting, and low lighting.