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When To Stop Colouring Your Hair: Trichologist Tells All!


What's the deal with going grey - should you embrace it, or keep going with your salon visits? Eva Proudman gives us the lowdown in her latest blog!

March 24, 2021


Photo showing Maxine Laceby sitting and smiling against a neutral background, she is wearing a white top and a yellow blazer

March 24, 2021


Hello to all you Absoluters out there! I have recently had lots of questions about hair condition, breakage, and colour, so thought I would share my thoughts with you on when you should consider ditching the hair dyes.

There’s lots of reasons we dye our hair. For instance, when the grey hairs start to appear, as many as 75% of women look to hair colouring to keep the grey at bay. We also like to ring the changes with different hues and tones at different times of our lives.

Does Colouring Your Hair Damage It?

If you visit a salon for a colour service, it shouldn’t damage your hair. The salon should carry out two tests: a patch test, to see if you have a reaction to colour, and a strand test, to see how your hair reacts to colour. There are three key factors in colouring your hair that need to be technically correct to ensure that the hair isn’t damaged, which are:

  1. Strength of the chemical colour
  2. Length of processing time
  3. Addition of heat

If anyone of these key factors is mismanaged, then hair damage can result.

Different Types of Hair Colour

Permanent: causes the hair to lighten. It contains 3 – 6% hydrogen peroxide, and the colour molecules enter the cortex of the hair and don’t wash out. This type of dye is best for covering stubborn grey hairs and for more drastic changes of colour.
Demi Permanent: also lightens the hair but only contains 1 – 2% hydrogen peroxide. It lasts for around 6 weeks.
Temporary or Semi-Permanent: contains no peroxide and washes out within 2 – 6 washes. For this reason, it is the least damaging to the hair.

When Should You Stop Colouring Hair?

Your hair feels dry and brittle

Using colour to change a tone or shade of hair generally isn’t too harsh or damaging; however, if you are looking to really take your colour to a much lighter shade, there will be an element of hair damage each time you repeat the process. The hair has a protective outer coating called the cuticle, and when your hair is healthy, the cuticle looks like the tiles on a roof all laying down in a compact neat fashion.

When hair is damaged, however, the roof tiles flake off or peel back, leaving the cortex (which is the main hair fibre) vulnerable to damage. Bleaching gradually wears away the cuticle. Too many chemical colours can lead to hair that can be described as ‘straw-like,’ dry, brittle, or frizzy. Split ends, flyaway hairs and hair of varying lengths are other sure signs of damage and breakage. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to give the colour a rest to let the hair recover.

Your grey hairs are back within a couple of weeks

If you can’t seem to keep up with the advance of your grey hair (either at the roots or all over), it’s a sure sign that you should stop the colouring, as using a chemical on the hair too frequently will most certainly mean hair damage. You know it makes sense to stop colouring when scheduling a fortnightly colour slot at the salon is more important than anything else in the diary. Embrace your natural colour and enjoy more freedom to live life to the full. Maxine, AC’s fabulous founder and CEO, looks absolutely fantastic with her natural hair colour and couldn’t be happier than to have made the decision to stop being a slave to salon appointments!

Photo of Maxine Laceby smiling slightly at the camera while wearing a light blue shirt

You notice scalp irritation after your hair colour

It doesn’t matter how long you have been colouring your hair, if you start to experience unexplained itchiness, soreness, or oozing of the scalp, you could have developed a sensitivity or even an allergy to the hair dye itself. The reason hair salons carry out patch tests is to check if you are sensitive or allergic to an ingredient in hair dye called p-Phenylenediamine (PPDA), which is what gives the dye its permanent colour. The symptoms and reactions can start off quite mildly, so you might not recognise it as a reaction, but it can become more severe - so be safe rather than sorry if your scalp reacts after a colour treatment.

This doesn’t mean you have to stop colouring it forever, though. While all hues of permanent dye contain PPDA, semi-permanent dye and wash-out colours often don’t, though they do require more frequent application.

There is little difference between your hair dye and natural colour

If your colour has gone from a highlighted golden blonde to a full-on platinum over the years, it might be time to consider if the dye is actually adding anything. When your root regrowth is a very similar tone to your hair colour, it really is time to think about letting your hair settle at its natural shade. Toning shampoos and mousses can keep all shades of grey and white looking fabulous without the need for all of the hours spent in the salon.

How to Keep Coloured Hair in the Best Condition Possible:

A few easy rules will help you to keep your coloured hair looking and feeling fabulous:

List showing the Dos and Don'ts of caring for coloured hair

Absolute Collagen can help to keep your coloured hair looking fantastic, as it is rich in amino acids which help to build keratin the very fibre of our hair. Absolute Collagen also helps to fight free radical damage with antioxidants - a must for keeping hair follicles healthy. Plus, it may also help to slow the grey hair process by keeping the melanocytes that produce the melanin that gives our hair natural colour functioning for longer.

So whether like our wonderful Maxine you have ditched the dye, or like me are still loving being blonde, I hope that you will find this information useful in helping you to look after your hair to keep it in fabulous condition.

Photo of Eva Proudman alongside a short bio for her