Recovering From Color Damage 101

Recovering From Color Damage 101

Every thriving member of the natural hair community has seen at least one  “Natural Hair Journey” video on YouTube. You know…the ones where gurus show pictures of their lifeless, damaged hair that has since transformed into gorgeous locks or the one where they show how they rehabilitated their hair from color damage.

Natural hair journeys are bound to have some bumps in the road. Whether it’s from dying your hair too much or over which causes color damage-use of heat, recovering from a hair set back takes lots of nourishment, and even more patience.

There are several ways to nurse after color damage.

Deciding how to do so really comes down to the severity of the damage, and your specific hair needs. The best person to decide how to repair your hair is usually a hair professional. “At the first sign of hair breakage or shedding after color service….go to your professional salon and seek treatment advice from a stylist. I do not recommend D.I.Y (Do It Yourself) or at-home treatments to repair color damage,” says hair expert Fawnne Smith.

Although you may end up saving money by coloring your hair at home, you could end up spending more money trying to correct the color damage. “The real issue with an at home color that goes bad is that the $8.00 box or hair color can easily turn into a $150 (or more) to fix,” says New York-based hair stylist Tamika Wesley. “Color correction services at a salon often start at $100 – $200 per hour, at minimum.”

Hair color can be your best friend or worst enemy. Though they provide a new look and can bring out our creative side, using the wrong dye or improperly caring for colored hair can be fatal to hair health.

To treat colored hair, Smith says, “It is important to change your hair regimen and deep condition once a month after. Use color safe shampoo (must be sulfate free) so the color will stay vibrant.”

Fun fact: Hair dye comes in five intensities

  1. Temporary: A non-damaging hair color that only coats the hair cuticle. Will likely rinse out in two to three shampoo sessions.
  2. Semi-permanent: Slightly more permanent color that actually penetrates the hair cuticle (called depositing). Requires a developer to take effect.  
  3. Demi-permanent: Have a smaller molecule size than semi-permanent dye, thus it is able to penetrate all the way to the cortex of the hair. This dye is unable to lighten the hair, but lasts longer than the last two. Rather than rinsing out, demi-permanent color fades with time.
  4. Permanent: Used with a developer to penetrate each layer of the hair shaft and permanently change the color from the inside out.
  5. Bleach: Rather than being an actual hair color, hair bleach is a chemical composed of ammonia and peroxide that together lighten the hair. This is the strongest hair dying option.


You’re probably most familiar with the most savage of these options-hair bleach. Bleach is often used because it is the quickest way to permanently lighten the hair. Sadly, that convenience comes at a cost. Consistent use can lead to dryness and breakage for days.

If you do decide to save a penny and dye your hair at home, “Choose a temporary, semi-permanent, or demi-permanent color whenever possible over permanent,” suggests Tamika Wesley of Wesley Styles NYC. “It’s like the difference between using a sharpie or a pencil on white wall. Sure, you can get the sharpie off, eventually, but the process is much harder than trying to get pencil off.”

Consistent use of harsh dyes not only strips your strands of color, but mouisture as well. For some people, this process can also alter the tightness of their beautiful coils- loosening them to a limper state. The process causes excessive stress on the hair and can leave you with more than just a new hair color.

If your hair is severely damaged, it is most likely time to say bye-bye. The best (and perhaps easiest) way to recover from chemically or heat affected hair is to simply cut it off and let time take its course.

But wait! Before grabbing the scissors, you may be able to revive your lifeless strands. What appears to be irreparable damage could actually be fixable. Smith describes this repairable damage as  “curl integrity loss.” Restorative options include, “a series of salon professional treatments to restore the curl pattern or transitioning out of the damage,: says Smith. “Once you consult with professional they will help you decide which option is best for you.”


Once you figure out what works best for your hair, stick with it! Who knows, you could end up being one of those YouTube gurus showing off your recovery journey.

If you’re looking for the right products to get your hair flourishing, we recommend Wonder Curl’s Restoring Hair Treatment. Wonder Curl owner Scarlett Rocourt made this deep conditioning treatment to restore her own over-dyed and damaged hair. Made with key ingredients like Shea Butter, Olive Oil, Avocado Butter, this product is sure to give your hair the T.L.C it needs.  

Want more hair care information?

Everything You Need to Know About Trimming Your Hair

Protein Guide to Natural Hair

4 Ways Protective Styles Can Go Wrong

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