The Only Hair Color Guide You’ll Ever Need

How we treat our hair is central to its overall health, which is why knowing the ins and outs of hair color is crucial. The subject of chemical hair coloring has the tendency to be complicated and downright frustrating, and this is why this guide was written. Keep on reading to discover the answers to all of your hair color questions!

Why Does Coloring My Hair Damage It? 

Many hair horror stories start with hair color. Inexperienced colorists and hair color DIYers everywhere butcher hair on a regular basis. What is it about hair color that damages hair?

Chemicals in Hair Color Cause Damage

It’s all about chemistry. Hair dye contains many chemicals that put your hair through the wringer. The most damaging chemicals in hair color are ammonia and peroxide. In order for permanent hair color to be deposited into your strands, the ammonia lifts your hair cuticles, and the peroxide removes your natural hair color from your hair. 

This process is damaging to the hair because of the fact that your hair’s cuticles are supposed to lay down flat, protecting the interior of your hair from outside influences. Once you lift your hair’s cuticles with hair color containing ammonia, your hair will never be the same again. The cuticles will never go back to the flat position that they were in initially. 

How Hair Color Damages Hair

The effect of the peroxide is not always noticeable right after coloring your hair. It could take months for you to notice any difference. Long-lasting effects that you could experience after coloring your hair include: 

  • Perpetually dry hair. Once your hair’s cuticles are lifted up to deposit your new color, your hair can no longer hold onto moisture as much as it used to. It may lose moisture shortly after you add it. 
  • Broken hair. If your hair is neglected after a chemical process like hair coloring, not only will your hair be dry, it will become brittle and break off. 
  • Burned hair. If the hair color is left on your hair for too long, or an extremely high strength of peroxide is used, you could end up with hair that has been singed beyond recognition. 

Not All Hair Color is Damaging

There are different types of hair color, and each of them carries a different hair damage risk. Below, we will explore each type of hair color and whether it is damaging to the hair: 

  • Permanent Hair Color - Permanent hair color, as briefly mentioned above, has the potential to damage hair. This is because it is designed to penetrate the innermost layers of the hair, remove the natural hair’s pigment, and deposit the new hair color. 
  • Semi-permanent Hair Color - Semi-permanent hair color is a deposit-only hair color. Hair color in this category does not have peroxide or ammonia, and there is no lifting of the hair cuticle. Therefore, you can’t damage your hair by using semi-permanent hair color. 
  • Demi-permanent Hair Color - Demi-permanent hair color is a slightly gentler form of hair color that doesn’t have ammonia in it. Therefore, the shaft of your hair will remain undisturbed and won’t suffer much damage.  
  • Natural Hair Color - Henna and other natural hair color are not harsh on the hair because they don’t usually contain the chemicals that other hair color types do. Most natural hair colors can be used with no negative consequences. 

How To Protect My Hair From Color Damage

If you are using any hair color that has damaging ingredients like peroxide and ammonia, you should take measures to protect your hair from damage. You can try the following tips to minimize color damage: 

  • Use a pre-color treatment. There are products out there with the sole purpose of preparing your hair for a color treatment, but all it takes is a moisturizing treatment. Before coloring your hair, you can deep condition your hair and then apply oil to it. This will give your hair a bit more strength, which may help to stave off color damage. 
  • Give your hair a break before coloring it. If you regularly straighten your hair or wear it in tight styles, your hair needs a break. For up to a week before you plan on coloring your hair, put down the flat iron and rubber bands. Allow your hair to be free. This will give your hair a fighting chance when it comes time to color it. 
  • Don’t go too light. Going too light in one coloring session is one of the leading causes of color damage. If you want to go platinum blonde, do so gradually over several color treatments. If you do it all at once, you could end up with noticeable hair damage. 
  • Baby your hair after coloring it. The worst thing that you can do after a hair coloring session is to forget about your hair. Your hair needs extra TLC after a hair coloring job. Give your hair extra moisturizing treatments, go easy on the heat, and don’t wear tight styles. 

Why Does Hair Color Fade

After going through all of that trouble to get your hair bright crimson red, you want your hair color to last as long as possible. Unfortunately, all hair color fades, and this section will tell you why. 

Hair color fades on its own as you care for it. Every time that you lift the cuticle of your hair, color pigment escapes the cuticle. The larger the hair color pigment molecules are, the quicker the color will fade. Red hair color molecules are the largest, so red hair color fades the quickest. 

Doing the following will increase the amount of color fade you’ll experience: 

  • Going out without protecting your hair from the sun. 
  • Washing your hair very often or with hot water. 
  • Using a clarifying shampoo. 
  • Allowing your hair to get too dry. 
  • Not keeping your hair moisturized.

How Long Hair Color Lasts

How long your hair color will last depends on the type of hair color you used. If you used semi-permanent hair color, expect it to last a month or so. Demi-permanent hair color will often last several weeks. Permanent hair dye can take several months to fade. 

How To Keep Hair Color From Fading

Though hair color will fade over time, there are several things that you can do to slow the fading process. Try the following to prolong the vibrance of your hair color: 

  • Wear a hat when you go out to protect your hair from the sun. 
  • Use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner. 
  • Try a color-depositing shampoo and conditioner. 
  • Limit heat-tool use. 
  • Wash your hair with cool water. 
  • Keep your hair moisturized.

Does Leave-in Conditioner Help Colored Hair?

A good leave-in conditioner is your best friend after you’ve colored your hair. When your hair is colored, you need to use products that slow hair color fading and won’t damage your hair. 

Daily Dose’s leave-in conditioner protects your hair from the elements and helps to maintain the vibrance of your hair color. It is also very gentle to the hair and will keep it moisturized even if your hair has been damaged by hair color. 

Final Thoughts

Now you know a lot about how hair color works, what causes it to fade, how to avoid damage, and more! We hope that this article serves as a helpful guide to answer your hair color questions! 


Author: Andrea Reyes

Andrea is a mother, wife, writer, and natural hair enthusiast of 15 years. Currently on her natural hair journey, she’s been trying countless products and techniques to understand and embrace her natural hair. She is the creator of, a new website featuring informative articles that share tips, tricks, and techniques aimed to help others learn to love their hair through proper hair care. She writes with the hope of making hair care easier to understand and implement.

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