Trying to dye African American hair can be difficult if you are new to it. There are many hair dyes you can choose from and a few ways to go about dying your hair.
In this guide, we breakdown all the things you need to know to make sure you get the best results out of dying your hair.
Decide How Long You want The Dye To Last
When it comes to hair dye, there is no single set lifespan to expect of all of them.
Before you try to dye African American, you have to understand the different categories that dyes can fall into based on different lifespans.
There are dyes that are designed to last from a few days to a few weeks. And there are others that are made to last even longer, maybe even a couple of months.
The key to dying your hair safely is to make sure you know the options and how they function on your hair.
The following is a breakdown of how they all work.
Temporary Hair Dye
Temporary hair dyes are really great for those who love to try out bold colors but want the versatility of being able to change it frequently.
Having the freedom to play with colors for a short period of time is something that some people are quite unaware that they could access.
Temporary hair dye achieves this through how it works on your hair. The dye only covers the outside of your hair shafts, so it is very easy to get out in one or a few washes.
There are temporary hair dyes that last as little as a single day. So you can rock a great color for just one day and have your hair back to its original state by the end of the day.
Semi-Permanent Hair Dye
This hair dye is also designed to only coat the hair shaft. Semi-permanent hair dye is great for when you want to dye African American hair for a little while but not too long.
A lot of semi-permanent hair dyes will last about eight washes. So (depending on how frequently you wash your hair), you can expect this kind of dye to last you a couple of weeks.
Most people will wash their hair maybe twice or 3 times a week when they have their hair dyed. So you can expect a timeline of about 2-3 weeks with semi-permanent dye.
This is a great dye to apply for short-term bold coloring. They are also great if you want to enhance your hair color or touch up some roots.
There are a lot of great semi-permanent hair dyes across many brands and colors.
Demi-Permanent Hair Dye
This type of hair dye is made to penetrate the hair shaft and not just coat it.
Demi-permanent hair dye is the in-between of semi-permanent and permanent dye.
What makes it last longer than semi-permanent dye is the fact that it is mixed with developer, which is what allows it to get into the hair shaft.
A typical demi-permanent dye will last you a while. It can last to up to about 10 weeks.
This is one to consider if you really want to commit to a color for some time.
Permanent Hair Dye
Permanent hair dye, as the name suggests, can be expected to last a very long time.
The dye is prone to some fading (as any dye would be).
But the color will persist and not completely go away until you decide to bleach your hair, dye it another color, or new hair grows in the place of the dyed hair.
Permanent hair dyes are not typically the top choice for those looking to dye their hair color because of this fact.
However, if you really are willing to commit to a color for months, choosing a permanent hair dye will be sensible.
Know Your Hair Type
Another thing to find out about in relation to knowing how long you want your dye to last is your hair type.
If you want to dye African American hair, knowing about what hair types there are for African American people will save you from making any errors in dye choices.
African American hair typically falls under two types of classifications. The first is by number, and the second by letter.
There are a few things to know about each of these types of categories.
Hair Type By Number
When it comes to all people, there are between 1 and 4 categories in which you can fall in terms of hair type.
African American hair falls in the type 3 and 4 categories. This type of hair is known to be curly.
Type 3 hair can be identified by its “s” shape which its curls make. This hair type has rougher cuticles that type 1 and 2 (which are straighter).
The rougher cuticles make the hair porous. Which means type 3 hair can take up color more easily than type 1 and 2 hair.
However, type 3 hair strands are more fragile. So, if you overdo the dying, your hair can get more damaged than if you have type 1 or 2 hair.
Type 4 hair is also curly. It can be identified by the “z” shape that it makes.
Type 4 hair is also quite porous like type 3 hair. So,if you overdo it with the dye, you can really damage your hair.
This is why it’s important to know what your hair type is before you start trying to dye African American hair.
Knowing your hair type based on its curls will help you know what to expect of its response to hair dye.
Hair Type By Letter
The different hair types by number are also divided into subcategories based on letters.
Each of the numbered hair types has subcategories going from a to c. So there is type 3a, 3b and 3c hair. There is also type 4a, 4b and 4c hair.
What determines which of the letters a person in either type 3 or 4’s hair falls under is the texture of their hair.
Generally, type a hair is not too coarse, type b is coarser and type c is the coarsest.
What this coarseness usually means for your hair is that for people with types that are coarse need to invest more in protecting their hair from damage by giving it more moisture and not doing too much aggressive styling.
When it comes to hair dye, applying dye to hair that is more coarse means you risk making the hair strands even more coarse and thus more prone to damage.
So,you have to think about how harsh the dye you want to use on your hair is based on your hair type before you commit to it.
Any hair type can safely be dyed. But you do have to know your type in order to take appropriate precautions.
Decide On A Dye
Now that you have considered your hair type and the different types of dye there are based on how long they last, you can make a more informed decision on a dye.
Picking the best dye you can for your hair is paramount to making sure you get the best coloring results.
What Is The Best Type Of Dye?
There is no one type of dye that is great across all brands and formula types.
Some people may have great experiences with one type of dye but others with similar hair type may have a completely different experience. Or they may use another brand’s version of that dye and it may be different.
Looking into the different brands of dye out there is a good idea before you decide on one. Because regardless of how long you want your dye to last and what kind of hair you have, not choosing a good dye can affect the quality of your experience.
But once you’ve chosen a good brand for your hair dye, you can then compare its products to see which kind of dye is the best.
For both type 3 and 4 hair types, it is recommended that you go for semi-permanent or demi-permanent hair dyeregardless of the brand you choose.
This is because these hair dyes will last you a decent time while at the same time minimizing potential damage to your hair.
Semi-permanent hair dye doesn’tpenetrate the hair shaft, but only coats it. Demi-permanent hair dye does penetrate the hair shaft, but it is not quite as aggressive as permanent dye.
This is important because compared to type 1 and 2 hair, type 3 and 4 can be more prone to breakage and damage and using chemicals that are too harsh on the hair can exacerbate this.
So, if you want a great color for a little while, finding a good semi-permanent or demi-permanent dye is a good idea.
Hair Dye And Moisture
Temporary dyes are also not too aggressive, however they can be dehydrating to type 3 and 4 hair, so they are not the optimum choice.
If you do decide to go with a temporary dye because you want to keep the color for only a short period, make sure you moisturize your hair thoroughly before and after you dye it.
Knowing your hair type is helpful because for hair types in the number 4 category especially, retaining moisture is difficult.
So, after dying your hair, it might be wise to use a moisturizing shampoo or a color-protecting shampoo with moisturizing properties.
Some hair dyes come with the option of being in a two-in-one package with a moisturizing shampoo or a color protecting shampoo or conditioner.
If you already know your hair type and how much moisture it needs before buying a dye, you can make the right choice when it comes to buying one in this kind of two-in-one package or not.
Consult A Professional And Do A Strand Test
This step is one that some may opt to skip. But if you are a beginner and want to dye African American hair, it is recommended that you do this.
Seeing a professional hairstylist, whether you plan to have them dye your hair or to do it yourself at home is important.
This is because a professional stylist can give you some advice for how you should go about conducting the process of dying your hair.
What Advice Can You Get From A Professional?
A professional hairstylist can tell you what kind of products to use to prep your hair before you dye it.
Often, before dying your hair, you might need to give it a wash and conditioning treatment.
Any regular shampoo and conditioner can be nourishing to your hair. But a professional stylist can assess your hair and give you some specific examples or recommendations of products or brands that would be best for you to use.
A professional hair stylist can also give you tips on how to do the aftercare when you have dyed your hair.
Another thing a professional hairstylist can help you with is they can perform a strand test for you.
How Do Strand Tests Work?
How a strand test works is that you test the hair dye you want to use on a small section of your hair or a few strands. Then you can get a clear picture of how the dye would turn out on all your hair.
Depending on the type or color of the dye you want to apply, you may need to bleach your hair and then apply the dye afterwards.
A strand test is a good idea. Especially for African American people. This is because this process can be a bit tricky for a beginner to navigate without the guidance of a professional on how to do it safely.
Furthermore, a lot of times, hair dyes don’t turn out the same on type 3 and 4 hair as they do on type 1 and 2.
A lot of hair dyes are designed with type 1 and 2 hair types in mind, or they may be advertised with examples of how they look on these types of hair.
So, giving the dye of your choice a test beforehand can really be helpful and save you some disappointment.
Because once you have applied the dye to your test strands, you can compare with the advertised result and decide if you like what you will get.
When you have gone through this process, you will be much more informed on how to go about dying the rest of your hair.
Then comes the step of figuring out how to prepare your hair for it and whether or not you need to go through certain steps. Such as bleaching your hair before applying the dye of your choice.
Figure Out If You Need To Bleach Your Hair
So, you have done a strand test and seen what your dye will look like on your hair (whether you did it with bleach or not).
Now you can decide if it’s necessary for you to bleach all your hair for your desired results.
If you decide you like the results without bleach, then you don’t need to carry on with this step. You can just move on to the dying process.
However, if you decide the bleach is needed, you still have to consider some things about what bleaching entails for your hair before you go ahead and do it.
Things To Consider Before You Bleach Your Hair
Bleaching your hair is not an easy process and it will not be as easy as simply dying your hair.
One of the first things to take note of before bleaching your hair in order to dye African American hair is that it usually will not be achieved simply over one day or one treatment.
Generally, to ensure that the bleaching is done safely without damaging your hair, you will need to do it a few times at intervals. A professional can walk you through this process before they perform it.
Another thing to consider is that if done incorrectly or without the right amount of care, bleaching can damage your hair.
It can burn your hair or cause it to break and fall out. This of course is not ideal for you to experience on your journey towards dying your hair.
Having these things in mind, it is important to follow a few tips to make sure you are bleaching it safely if you are going to do it on your own.
Once you know what to do and avoid doing, bleaching can actually be done with few issues.
How To Bleach Your Hair Safely
One of the things you want to make sure you do before bleaching your hair is choosing a product that works for your hair type to use. Seeking the advice of a professional hairstylist is helpful for this.
Once you have found the right bleaching product with the right amount of strength for your hair, you will want to make sure a few things go right in the process.
Making sure you apply the bleach evenly on your hair is an important step. This may require you to seek another person’s help in applying it.
Or you can use a mirror to make sure you spot any patches that aren’t covered.
You also want to make sure that you follow the instructions on the product label very carefully. Especially those pertaining to how long you leave the bleach in.
Bleaching your hair for too short a period of time will not give you the desired result. But overbleaching it can leave you with chemical burns on your scalp and hair damage.
Both of these results are things you want to avoid.
You must also make sure you shampoo and condition your hair well after bleaching to ensure you get the chemicals out and you give your hair the nourishing it needs to maintain its health.
Apply The Dye
Now that you have done all the preparation to dye African American hair, the main step is to actually apply the dye for your hair transformation.
The main thing to make sure you do is to follow the instructions on the products of your choice for optimum results.
Aside from following these instructions though, there are some potentially unspoken tips you will want to know about.
If you follow these extra tips, you can enhance the process of coloring your hair with positive results.
To Wash Or Not To Wash?
A question some may have before dying their hair is if it’s a good idea to shampoo it beforehand.
It is generally not advisable to wash your hair right before you dye it. This step is usually saved for after you have applied the dye.
The reason for this is that if you wash your hair before dying it, especially if you do it thoroughly, you can wash out all the natural oils in your hair that it needs to protect your hair and scalp.
This can result in your hair getting damaged in the dying process, especially if you leave the dye in longer than you are supposed to.
It is generally advised to not wash your hair thoroughly for at least two or three days before you intend to dye it.
Section Your Hair
A good way to go about dying your hair to make sure it spreads out evenly is to section your hair.
This is good because it ensures that you don’t end up with patches of hair that a lighter than other parts of your hair when you are done with dying your hair.
Sectioning can be done with any regular rat tail comb.
And once you have sectioned your hair, you will want to make sure you apply the dye from your scalp moving outwards towards the tip of your hair, making sure you cover each strand completely.
Move At A Steady Pace
When you dye African American hair, you need to make sure you move at a good pace.
Being too slow to apply the dye can result in you exposing parts of your hair to it too long. This can increase the chances of hair damage.
And if you do it too quickly, you risk doing it haphazardly and not allowing the dye to set in well enough to get the best results.
The best thing to do is to not rush, but to make sure you are adding dye to each section of your hair with consistent precision without being too unnecessarily meticulous.
Hair dyes will typically have instructions on them that tell you how long your hair needs to be exposed to the dye so you will know roughly how quickly to move as you apply it.
Once you have completely applied the dye, you then have to set a timer for when you will need to rinse it out as part of the next step to dye African American hair.
Wash & Condition Your Hair Thoroughly
When the time has come to remove the dye from your hair, then you have to shampoo.
Most hair dyes will come with a shampoo in the package that you are supposed to use to rinse out the dye.
It is typically best to use lukewarm water to wash out the dye. And you should make sure you rinse thoroughly until no more color comes out when you wash your hair.
You will want to be careful with this step as some hair dyes can stain. So, if you don’t want to stain anything in your vicinity, you should wash your hair as far away from it as possible.
Once you have rinsed all the dye out of your hair then you have to do the next step, which is conditioning.
The Importance Of Conditioning
Skipping the conditioning step in your hair dying routine can be really tempting. But you don’t want to do this.
Conditioner is a very important aspect of any haircare routine, especially for African American hair.
This is because conditioner softens your hair, gives it more thickness and strength. And conditioner makes your hair easier to style without damaging it, while adding nutrients to it.
Adding conditioner after you have dyed your hair combats the potential damage your hair may have received from the dye.
If you use demi-permanent or permanent hair dye, your hair shaft will have been opened and penetrated by the dye. Conditioners ensure that the hair shafts close up again so that your hair doesn’t end up breaking.
A lot of hair dyes come with not just the shampoo but also the conditioner you will need to apply after you have dyed your hair.
But in the case where you are using a hair dye that doesn’t come with these products, you should invest beforehand in a good shampoo and conditioner for your hair.
Finding shampoo and conditioner that contain nourishing ingredients like natural oils and vitamins is a good idea. Products with vitamin E and biotin are really good for hair replenishing.
Some of the best natural oils to look out for include olive oil, jojoba oil, Jamaican black castor oil and avocado oil.
Drying Your Hair Post-Wash
Drying your hair after dying it is the next step you have to take. For this step, you cannot go wrong with air drying.
The advantage of air drying your hair is that you don’t risk exposing it to any more potential damage by using heat on it.
Excessive heat is one of the most damaging things for African American hair. This is because heat dehydrates your hair.
When African American hair is too dry, it becomes really brittle. Which makes it much easier to break, especially when you attempt to style it afterwards.
By air drying, you allow your hair to retain the moisture from the washing and conditioning process and you make it less likely to get damaged when you style if after you dye it.
Another way to avoid damaging your hair it you don’t like air drying your hair is to use cool air on it.
A lot of blow dryers allow you to adjust the temperature on them so that you only apply cool air to your hair.
After your hair is dry, you can go ahead and style it any way you like.
Use Aftercare Products
Now that you have successfully managed to dye African American hair, the only thing left to do is aftercare to maintain your hair health. For this, you need to make sure you have the right products.
One type of aftercare product is a color-enhancing shampoo. For bright hair colors, this is a good idea because as you wash your hair after dying it, the vibrant color may start to fade.
Color-enhancing shampoos try to combat this to allow you to keep your bright color for as long as possible.
You can also look into conditioners that serve this purpose while also making your hair easier to style.
Another type of aftercare product is hair moisturizer. Using hair moisturizers that contain nourishing ingredients regularly after you dye your hair can go a long way for ensuring your hair stays healthy.
You should so be mindful of styling products such as gels that you use and what ingredients they contain.
Using products for hair styling that contain as many natural ingredients as possible will really protect your hair from damage and breakage.
How To Dye African American Hair, Conclusion
Trying to dye African American hair can be a long process. But when you get the hang of it, it can really be fun and rewarding.
By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your hair will be looking vibrant and stylish, whether you have a professional dye it for you or you do it yourself.
As long as you take good care in the process, your hair will thrive and you can enjoy an exciting new color.