When clients with textured hair request hair color—particularly lifting and toning—your first reaction is, “Yay! Let’s do it!” Your next is likely to be, “OMG. Can I do this?” You can, asserts Alfaparf Master Artisan and Texture Expert Jeannetta Walker, @watchmyhairbounce. As long as you’re smart about it, of course. There are three non-negotiable steps that must be taken before coloring any texture. Here, Jeannetta lays them out.
Always, always analyze the current texture and condition of the hair, Jeannetta says. You’re looking for texture—is it fine, normal, or coarse? You’re looking for curl pattern—is it wavy, curly, extra curly or zig-zag? And you’re looking for moisture level and porosity. Is it supple or dry? Is it resistant or porous?
All of these indicators will dictate next steps. For example, the tighter the curl means there are more disulfide bonds present. Disulfide bonds give hair strength and elasticity. More bonds in the hair means more bonds are broken during the lightening process. This effects how the curls look, and feel. If the tightly curled hair is fine, it may not be able to handle a strong lightener so you must formulate accordingly.
To assess the level of dryness, check the scalp. “If the scalp is dry,” says Jeannetta, “it’s likely that there isn’t enough natural oil to travel the length of the hair strand, so the hair will lack lubrication mostly on the ends. If it lacks lubrication and moisture, it’s likely to become even dryer after color or lightening processes.” To assess the level of porosity, take a few strands and submerge them in water. If the hair sinks, it’s highly porous, which means it will accept color readily but may not retain that color for long. The same will is true for moisture. “That’s why it’s important to know if you have to replace moisture or the protein needed to reduce high porosity before beginning a color service,” says Jeannetta.
Jeannetta always does a thorough consultation before a color service, and the main question is always, “How committed are you to this color?” That means, is the client committed to regular treatments to keep her hair healthy, to using the proper retail products at home, to spending the time and money necessary to maintain the look? “She might need a trim,” says Jeannetta, “or a series of moisture and protein treatments to prepare the hair for a successful result. Be honest. Let her know if you think her hair isn’t ready for the type of chemical process needed to achieve the look. Offer a plan or an alternative. People are happier if you’re honest and you don’t ruin their hair.”
Jeannetta follows a very specific protocol when treating texture to prepare the hair for lifting or coloring. “I always start with a detoxifying treatment, like Semi Di Lino Detoxifying Mud” says Jeannetta. “A lot of curlies use products that cause build-up, so I like to work with a detoxifier to cleanse the canvas, which makes it easier for the hair to accept the subsequent treatments.” If the hair lacks protein, Jeannetta treats strands with the Semi Di Lino Emergency S.O.S. Treatment and the Reparative range. “It repairs hair from the inside out,” she notes. Once the correct level of protein is achieved, she shifts to the Semi Di Lino Nutritive range, including Shampoo, Nutritive Essential Oil Treatment and Nutritive Mask that processes under heat, followed by Nutritive Detangling Spray, or Nutritive Leave-in conditioner. “It may take one visit, it may take 10 to ready the hair for color,” says Jeannetta. “It’s all determined during the consultation, and it’s important to re-evaluate the hair carefully every time the client comes in.
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