1. Book a 15-minute consultation the week before you colour
You and your colourist need to discuss what you like – and your lifestyle. Do you want waves in your hair? Do you hate bleach? How often are you willing to come in for touch-ups to your roots? Do you have time to blow-dry your hair every morning? Now’s your time to share.
A pre-colour consultation also gives your colourist the chance to look at your hair – because on very dark or thick hair, bleaching may need two different appointments, on two different days.
Colour also absorbs better into healthy hair, so if your hair is damaged, they can suggest you moisturize it with at-home hair mask for a week before you colour. An in-salon pre-colour treatment to improve hair strength may also be worth the money.
Photo: StyleSeat on Pinterest
2. Show your colourist hairstyles and colours you like – and don’t like
Save screenshots from Instagram or websites, so you can show your colourist the hair colours and effects you love. That’s because hair colouring and cutting terms can get confusing – low-lights, highlights, balyage, feathering– what does it all mean? Photos minimize confusion.
Another tip: If you’re not quite sure what you like, bring photos of colours and effects you don’t like and show your colourist. This way you can both discuss what suits your skin tone, lifestyle and workplace
Go here to see coloured hair that’s right for work
3. Be aware brighter colours fade faster
Eye-catching bright colours – like Unicorn hair – only last about 15 washes. It’s because the colour molecules are larger in intense shades – especially red or pink shades.
These larger molecules cannot penetrate into hair strands as easily, and they also wash out more easily. So every time you shower, a little of your unicorn hair magic goes down the drain.
To slow this process down, your salon colourist may suggest pre-and post treatments to add shine, seal damage and help keep colour in longer. Healthier hair absorbs colour better, and keeps it in longer, so they’re worth the money.
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4. Ask if you need to set aside two days for the bleaching
You must bleach Asian hair to go blond, or get blond “balayage” streaks. On very dark hair you may even need to bleach to go “Brond” – that sexy blond meets brown shade.
If you have dark Asian hair, your colourist will need to bleach your hair twice or even three times to achieve blond locks.
So if your scalp (or skin) is naturally sensitive, let your colourist know beforehand. They may suggest doing the bleaching over two days – so this is not a treatment to schedule the night before a big event.
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5. Bleach is necessary for pastel hair
At this point you may be thinking; “Wait? Two days in a salon? Can I go Asian blond without hair bleach?”
Short answer: Nope.
You need bleach if you want a significantly different colour and your hair is naturally darker than light brown (and most Asian hair is darker). You’ll definitely need bleach to turn Asian hair a Crayola colour, like pink or blue.
Some salons do offer bleach-free or ammonia-free colour – it’s sometimes called “High Lift Colour”. This can lighten your hair – but not significantly. So in dark Asian hair it’s more often used for adding highlights or “reflects” – those subtly sexy reds and blues that shine in your hair when you’re standing in the sun.
The other reality of using “High Lift Colour” is that you usually need virgin hair – hair that has never been coloured before. This means no henna, and no chemical colours, because the plant wax in henna blocks the action of the dye, and it doesn’t work on chemical colours anyway.
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6. Look for salons with post-colour treatment packages
When you’ve dropped big bucks on colouring, a hair treatment seems like an indulgence. But it isn’t. It’s a must.
Bleaching your hair lifts the cuticle on the outside of each strand, so some of the dark pigment molecues inside can leak out. That’s what lightens your hair.
The downside: any new colour molecules you put back into your hair also wash out more quickly in water, and fade more quickly in the sun.
So a salon post-colour treatment is a must. These bond proteins and silicones over your hair strands to make them more smooth and shiny, and lock in your expensive colour. Your best bet is to look for a salon with a package that includes cut, colour and post-colour treatment.
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7. Go for targeted hair products
The sun’s UV rays fade hair colour. So invest in a UV-protection spray and spray it on your hair every morning, before you go to work. You may laugh, but carrying a UV-blocking “auntie umbrella” also helps keep hair colour brighter for longer.
Shampoos and conditioners for colour-treated hair are also smart as they contain shields to block sunlight and humidity from hair strands, plus antioxidants to prevent oxidative damage to colour molecules. They can literally double the time your hair looks shiny and bright.
Photo: Kelsey Johnson on Pinterest
Try: Alterna Bamboo Beach Summer Sun Recovery Spray
Get: $25, from Sephora
Try: O&M Conquer Blonde Silver Shampoo
Get: $45, from Sephora
8. Consider using dry shampoo
If you want to rock pink, purple or red hair, consider also buying some dry shampoo. This helps you extend the time between hair washes by a few days.
Red and pink hair colour molecules are so big they naturally wash out from hair strands more easily than other colours, so a few less hair washes (if you can stand it) can extend your colour significantly.
Photo: butterflyloftsalon on Instagram
Try: Percy & Reed Radiance Revealing Invisible Dry Shampoo
Get: $26, from Sephora
9. Wet your hair with tap water before swimming
Salt water dries out hair, and pool chlorine can make blond hair go green or brassy. But, if you get your hair damp before diving in, it helps prevent salt and chlorine damage. It’s some weird science thing to do with water viscosity, apparently. Even better – don’t get your hair wet at all.
If you want to know more about hair to suit you; try Which Bob Haircut Is Right For You? And Sexy Short Hairstyles to Beat The Heat
Photo: Hair Creations on Pinterest
Text: Tara Barker / Additional Reporting: Elizabeth Liew
Main photo: Pixabay