From time to time I see a woman who colors her hair, and it's a dull, frizzy mess. You probably know what I mean: dead-looking highlights or beat-up, frizzy dark hair. My first thought is to think "ugh--bad dye job!" But that's probably not it.
Obviously damaged hair is every bit as aging as gray. Now, hair dye manufacturers frequently claim that their hair color "conditions" the hair and adds body. Insofar as coating unruly gray hairs with dye weighs them down and makes them more manageable, that's true. But if you're using demi-permanent or permanent hair dye, dyeing your hair damages it.
For your color to look convincing and natural, you're going to have to bite the bullet and pamper your hair a lot more.
Your hair is covered with rows of thin, clear scales called the cuticle--that's what makes the hair shine. It's like the clear top coat on your gorgeous nail polish color; the clear coat enhances the effect of the color.
But when we dye our hair, the cuticle is lifted so that the color can penetrate. This leaves our hair fragile and prone to damage. Blow-drying, back-combing, flat-ironing, sunlight, and chlorinated swimming pools only compound the problem.
For years I had long, thick, almost-completely straight hair. I had the second toughest, least damage-prone hair on the planet--it was like a horse's tail. And I didn't do much to it that damaged it--no color, no back-combing, and minimal blow-drying.
Then I started coloring my hair. I started with semi-permanent, and now, 15 years later, I get a permanent base color with highlights, low-lights, and a clear glaze to bump up the shine. Basically, I'm my colorist's bitch.
Well, guess what, children. Even if all you're doing is "restoring" your hair's original color, if you dye it, you're beating it up. Before I colored my hair, if I traveled to Florida or any place incredibly hot and humid, and the only change in my hair was that it got a bit more body. Now, my hair swells up like a sponge when it's dropped into a sink of water. Why? Because all that color has damaged my hair's cuticle.
I don't know why this took me by surprise, but it did. I would have expected it had I gone platinum blonde or flaming red, but I was dyeing my hair the color it had always been. It was kind of a shock when the texture of my hair changed.
I'll get into the specifics of what you should do later on. For right now, if you color your hair, I'd like you to think about the care you give it. I can't get away with treating my hair as cavalierly as I could 30 years ago, when it was approximately the same color. And neither can you.
So remember--you can color your hair like crazy and still have it look natural--it'll just cost you a lot of time and product.