My albinism has gifted me with some not fun features (low vision, nystagmus, photophobia, etc.), but it has also given me at least one feature that I have enjoyed over the years: my pigment-lacking hair. I always get compliments on my platinum hair, and I’ve come to love it over the years as well.
Last week, I shared part one of this post with you guys. It includes my personal hair dye journey with photos. It includes some looks that I absolutely loved, but I also include some of my not-so-cute looks.
Below, I will share the tips and tricks I’ve learned from my salon experiences, do-it-yourself experiences at home, and mistakes. It’s been so much fun over the years, so I hope you can learn from my trial and error.
My Tips for Healthy Hair and Lasting Dye
Visit a Salon
Letting a professional dye your hair is almost always the best option. If you want an all-over color that looks natural, having a professional dye it is a must. If you’re going for a very specific look with fun colors and/or similar to some of the ones that I’ve posted here, I also recommend a professional.
Most of the dye jobs I’ve done at home have not turned out how I meant them to. I’m pretty relaxed about my hair color so I’ve been fine with that, but it’s not for everyone.
This one is negotiable for those of you without albinism who want to dye your hair. Bleach can be used wisely, but it does strip your hair. That is its purpose after all. It opens the cuticle and strips out the color within to prepare the hair to accept a new color.
Be sure to moisturize your hair a few days after you bleach and dye it with a color safe deep conditioner. More on that below.
Absolutely Avoid Box Dyes!
These box dyes can be found in the drug store or grocery store. They are a one-size-fits-all option, and people with albinism do NOT have one-size-fits-all hair! The box dyes often include a dye and a developer (typically hydrogen peroxide) that are to be mixed and then applied to hair.
Developer is a product that goes with the pigment, and it works to activate the hair color and helps it penetrate into the hair cuticle. It is also used when you bleach your hair. It comes in different strengths, usually in increments of ten (ex. 10, 20, 30, etc.). Lightening darker hair requires a stronger developer (a higher number). Platinum or very light hair of a person with albinism only requires a light developer (a 10 or 20 at the most).
So, if you absolutely must dye your hair with a permanent dye and at home, I highly recommend visiting a salon style store such as Sally Beauty in the US. There you can choose your color and a light developer separately. Mixing is usually a 1:1 ration, but I am no expert on this.
I highly recommend a salon if you’re new to hair dye, and I definitely recommend a salon if you plan to dye your hair on your own. That’s a scary process. When I’ve done mine at home, I’ve usually had help.
As a side note, the drug store aisles have expanded, and you can find box dyes that are temporary, semi-, or demi-permanent. These will not include a developer but may include a conditioner. Check the back of the box for this information.
Go with Demi- or Semi-Permanent Color FIrst
If you’re new to hair dye and not sure how you will feel about a new color, go with a semi- or demi-permanent hair color to begin with. These are labeled on the box and do not come with a developer. I’ve had excellent experiences with these over the years. My current purple color was achieved with semi- and demi-permanent dyes in a salon.
These semi- and demi-permanent dyes come in natural hair colors as well as fun and bright colors.
Be Wary of Salt Water, Chlorine, and Sun
In last week’s post, I mentioned how salt water and sun can decrease the longevity of temporary color. Chlorine and salt water can both dry out your hair which makes it look dull and sometimes straw-like. To prevent this, you can put your hair up or wear a swimming cap if you swim regularly. Other good tips include wetting your hair before you jump in the water, wetting it and coating it with conditioner, or even putting a bit of coconut oil or another preferred oil in it to protect it.
Using a leave-in conditioner during your time at the beach may also help, and there are products that are meant to protect your hair and scalp from the sun. The UV rays definitely fade hair color. Those same rays can also lead to some painful scalp sunburns, so don’t forget to cover any exposed scalp with a hat or UV protection product.
Before You Color: Clean Your Hair
I don’t typically use or recommend harsh shampoos, but this is the time to use a clarifying shampoo with sulfates. If your hair is covered with product and dirt build-up, dye may not be able to properly soak into your hair cuticle. I’ve found a wonderful article about build-up and clarifying your hair. They also recommend some budget friendly shampoos that won’t be too harsh on your hair. There’s even a section at the bottom about clarifying colored hair.
This is most important if you are using a semi- or demi-permanent hair color that works to deposit a color on top of your hair cuticle. If the outside of your hair is coated with dirt, grime, and hair products, these types of colors may not be as effective. If you are using permanent hair color or bleach, clean hair is not a requirement, because the developer will open the cuticle and deposit or strip color within the hair cortex whether it is clean or not.
Deep Condition Your Hair
Once the hair dye has a chance to set in, I highly recommend a deep conditioner. Definitely look for one that says it’s color safe, though. You can find a pretty good list with various price ranges from Healthy Natural Hair Products. I’ve actually used two or three of these brands myself. Its a good idea to deep condition monthly as a rule, especially for color treated hair.
Add a Little Protein
I also recommend a protein treatment for the parts of your hair that have been bleached or dyed with developer. The protein helps to strengthen hair that has been weakened by bleach and developer. It is also essential for anyone who regularly heat styles his or her hair, deals with air pollution or hard water, and if your hair is generally feeling weak, falling out, or products seem to do nothing. This is one that I also recommend monthly. You can find wash and styling products that contain protein, so it can be added into your routine that way as well.
Get a Trim
This is always solid advice. If you haven’t had a trim in a while, I recommend one especially if you’ve noticed your hair not styling well, tangling more often, and generally being uncooperative. When hair is damaged, the cuticle or outside of the hair is raised and starts getting caught on other hairs. This can lead to tangling and hair not styling or laying the way you expect it to. So, I recommend a trim to get rid of some of those split or damaged ends.
How does your hair get damaged? Bleach and dye aren’t the only conditions that damage hair. As mentioned above, heat styling, air pollution, hard water, salt water, chlorine, and other environmental conditions can also damage your hair.
Future Hair Articles
Look out for articles on how to keep your platinum hair as white as possible amongst air pollution, hard water, and other environmental factors. I would also love to write about the curly girl/hair method and what aspects of it that I follow.
Until next time, stay curious.