Expert Advice

Q&A: Ethnic Hair

Web Editor | July 10, 2011 | 6:18 PM

Dudley Products International Educator and salon owner Deidre Clay dishes on African-American color trends and what you need to know about curly textures.

Q: What are the trends at your salon, Wave Links in Fayetteville, North Carolina?

A: For men who wear locs, it’s color tipping. They want brown or blonde ends. Women want tri-colors, with darker shades in underlayers or at the perimeter and lighter ones on top. 

Q: What’s the biggest mistake colorists make with African-American hair?

A: Not realizing semipermanent color lasts a long time and creates undesirable shades if you use permanent color over it. Most African Americans shampoo weekly, so there’s not a lot of fadage. In seven weeks, most Caucasians shampoo 49 times, while in our market, one month equals four shampoos. It can take up to a year for us to grow out a semipermanent color.

Q: Are there any issues specific to multi-racial clients?

A: Multi-racial clients can have tight curl in front and looser curl in the nape or vice versa. This affects relaxing. Choose a relaxer based on the tightest curl pattern, begin the application there and work toward the looser curl, so the relaxer is on for less time. Don’t assume mild relaxers are for bi-racial clients; they’re for fine, color-treated hair.

When it comes to color, if the hair is relaxed, don’t read it as bi-racial; just use 10- or 20-volume developer. If a bi-racial client has virgin hair and you want to lift it three or four levels, use 30- or even 40-volume developer to penetrate the cuticle layers. When coloring natural dreads or twists, always start with 30 or 40 volume. All ethnic hair has some form of red in the first seven levels of lift. If you want true brown, use a color product with a blue, green or violet base.

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