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Coloring Natural Hair

hair-color-sultry Color can make your coils POP

 Making color POP!

Let's talk color. Darkening, lightening, enhancing colors. Ombre, block color, stripes and grey coverage. If you're going to do it, do it as healthily as possible.

Virgin hair is natural hair at its healthiest and strongest. Changing your hair's color to something that requires lightening is a 2-step process that is going to cause damage, that's just a fact. So let's keep the damage to a minimum and care for your hair after it's colored – to minimize any new damage from using the wrong products or appliances.

For grey hair, coloring is easier. It usually means darkening the hair to match your natural color. This is called depositing color. It's a one-step coloring process that's pretty easy to do. If you want to do this yourself, it is important to choose a coloring system that is either completely natural at best or at minimum, free of ammonia. Ammonia is not only a nasty chemical, it can burn and damage your hair as well as your mucous membranes and cause respiratory problems. Stay away from ammonia.

If your hair is browner than black, or has some natural highlights, coppery tones will come out beautifully, on darker shades, copper may not be visible, deeper reds, purples and blues can add depth and tone. 

A good rule of thumb is - if you're not sure, do a crochet braid or wear a wig to see how you look before you color.

Commercial Home Color

First, I will say that going to a hairdresser is the best and safest option for coloring your hair. And there is a cost that goes with that. For all two-stage coloring, go to a salon. Do not try this on your own unless you are prepared to cut it all off if it destroys your hair. Too many times I have had women email me with photos, showing the damage and begging for a way to save their hair. Going blond can be a cool change, but seriously, I would be negligent if I were to advise you that you should do this at home. Sure, you CAN do it, but don't look to me for a tutorial. I don't want your disaster on my hands. And I've seen some ridiculous YouTube videos showing hair bleaching tutorials that are not only irresponsible, but downright dangerous. Leave the bleaching and color-stripping to the professionals unless you are totally prepared for the possible consequences. And that's all I'm going to say about that.


Burgundies, purples, blues, reds, coppers – these are the tones we use to enhance our natural color and involve depositing color in a one-step coloring system kit. These formulations deposit color over your hair, filling in lighter areas and adding a color cast, sometimes only seen in sunlight. Depending on the deepness of your natural color, you may or may not have success depositing bold color with these systems. On the plus side, they often include a conditioning agent and added oils and emollients to add recovery and shine to your hair.

Even though you may not end up with the results as bold as you want, you should never put another kit on top of a previous color. You have colored your hair and changed its makeup with the first application, so if you put another color right on top, you will be doubling up on color.

Give your hair at least 2 months to recover from the color before attempting to put another deposit over the top. And definitely tell your hairdresser if you have put a color on your hair before asking them to do another one, be it a one or two step color.

My recommended brand if you don't mind commercial: Garnier

Quick henna if you prefer *mostly* natural: NIsha


When using home color, ALWAYS FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS EXACTLY especially when it is your first time using the product.

For retouching, do not overlap the dye onto previously died hair. You may comb it through during the last 10 minutes if the instructions allow, but other than that, stick to the virgin growth only.

A semi-permanent color which lasts a few weeks, is usually gentler than a permanent system. Depending on the brand, semis will make it through several washes, provided you use a gentle shampoo.

Commercial coloring systems offer more variety of lasting permanent color than 100% natural systems, which tend to be temporary.

When your hair is colored, always use a color-gentle shampoo and conditioner. Not only are these formulated for use with color-treated hair, but they do not strip the color out, as may happen with a regular shampoo.


Henna is a powder you mix up with water that deposits color over your existing color. These colors can be red, golden or dark brown to almost black. The degree of color deposited onto your hair depends on your natural color and the time you leave the henna on your hair.

Being a natural product, henna can take longer than a commercial product to work, and fades as it grows out. So as your greys grow, you may end up with a more natural looking gray root than the sharp line a commercial product gives you.

Henna can dry your hair out and if you use henna to color, take special care to ensure your hair stays moisturized. Use extra-nourishing conditioners and always use a leave-in product. I recommend using NON-SULFATE shampoos when your hair is henna colored, regardless if it is for color-treated hair or not.


Indigo is black magic. It comes in a powder form like henna, that you mix with water to a paste and then apply to your hair. It is long-lasting, all-natural and it doesn't matter if you overlap previously colored hair with the new growth. It creates a deep, rich black color.

Ensure your indigo is for HAIR and not for FABRIC. These are two separate types of indigo and using the fabric indigo on your hair could be toxic as it contains ingredients not meant for prolonged skin contact.

Wear old clothes, use black towels, Have a disposable shower cap on hand to put over your hair while the indigo/henna is on (you do not want it to dry out) – and put petroleum jelly around your hairline to prevent your skin from being stained black.

Thing about indigo is, it takes longer to work and may need a few sessions of a few hours each to achieve the depth of color you want. It's also messy. Be sure to use gloves when applying and when you first start to rinse it out.

In my next blog I will give instructions for my hair masque using Henna and Indigo together. It's messy, takes hours and is labor intensive. 

California, New York Legislate Natural Hair
Who remembers integration and bussing?

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