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The Ultimate Guide To Getting Textured Hair Colored

Woman with dyed curly hair
One of the best ways to switch up your look for the new year is to color your hair. However, if you have textured hair, you may feel a little apprehensive about pulling the trigger and making an appointment with a colorist. The twists and turns of textured hair make it notoriously fragile, and many women fear coloring their strands will cause irreversible damage.

We’re here to let you know your fear is misplaced. Just about anything is possible in the hair world—as long as you’re working with a professional who really knows their stuff. Which is why we sat down with Michelle O’Connor, Matrix artistic director and master colorist, to get the scoop on everything you need to know about coloring textured hair. Whether you’re dreaming of grey balayage or partial highlights, O’Connor’s got you covered with everything you need to know to make sure the health and integrity of your textured strands stay in tip-top shape before, during, and after you color your hair.

How is coloring textured hair different than coloring straight hair?

O’Connor says there are some differences when it comes to coloring textured hair versus straight hair—but she maintains the differences are small. The curl patterns of textured hair often result in raised hair cuticles. Raised hair cuticles can cause hair to look dull and frizzy instead of sleek and glossy. Raised cuticles also allow chemicals to more deeply penetrate the hair strand—which can lead to severe damage, specifically when you’re talking hair color. But, this doesn’t mean your unicorn hair dreams are off the table, O’Connor says it just means your dramatic hair transformation may take more time.

Generally, I tend to stay away from the higher developers and mix textured hair at a slower capacity. I’ll drop it down to 20 volume developer, then I’ll drop it down to 10 volume developer and I’ll just do it again...That client will come in for two or three visits as opposed to me just going in with 40 volume and doing it in one shot.

Even though O’Connor always approaches textured hair with more caution, she says her main concern when coloring hair of any texture is the actual thickness of your individual strands.

“You want to make sure that there is no over-processing. If I have a person who’s a level three and they have strands with the diameter of a spider web, it’s going to be less of a wise idea for me to take that client to a nine or level 10, versus hair that’s a level three that might have density of dental floss,” O’Connor says. “Their hair could withstand the journey, lifting through those levels more than someone who has fine hair.”

How should you prepare your strands before coloring textured hair?

If you’re hoping for a dramatic color transformation, you already know it may take several appointments before you achieve the color of your dreams. In order to keep your textured hair as healthy as possible throughout your color journey, O’Connor advises you should plan to head to the salon a few weeks before your first color appointment.

“I would insist that they come in weeks preceding the visit. This might be months before we even do the color application,” O’Connor explains. “It’s all about the preparation.”

O’Connor says the best way to prepare your textured strands for a color service is to apply a deep conditioning treatment to your mane at least once a week for several weeks prior to your first color appointment. You and your stylist will decide on the best schedule for your hair during your initial consultation.

If you’re in the market for a killer deep conditioning treatment, O’Connor loves the Matrix Total Results Miracle Creator Multi-Tasking Hair Mask. The single-use hair mask packets boast 20 beautifying benefits that nourish, revitalize, and strengthen hair in just 60 seconds.

Once it's time for your hair color appointment, O'Connor recommends asking your stylist about Matrix SoColor Cult, an extensive collection of vibrant shades. Whether you're hoping for red, blue, or something in between, you're sure to find a color match.  

How should you care for recently colored textured strands?

If your colorist gives your textured strands a dramatic color transformation, you’re not just beginning a new relationship with your hair color—you’re also beginning a new relationship with your colorist.

“We’re married at that point,” O’Connor quips. “You’re going to see me at least once a month at minimum, maybe even every couple of weeks because I have compromised the natural state of your hair.”

Whether you opt for hot pink hair or subtle golden highlights, you’ll have to switch up your at-home hair care routine to care for your new hue. O’Connor says moisture is the key to maintaining newly-colored textured strands. We recommend swapping out your regular shampoo and conditioner with a system formulated to nourish and protect your color. The Biolage R.A.W. Color Care Shampoo and Conditioner system is formulated with coconut milk and meadowfoam to help protect color-treated hair, leaving it soft and shiny with lasting color vibrancy.

Just as deep conditioners were a key part of your hair care routine prior to coloring, they are equally as important after your service. Deep conditioners can help to intensely hydrate your hair, a necessary step to maintaining hair health and keeping your new color looking rich and vibrant. We recommend maintaining your weekly deep conditioning routine with the Matrix Total Results Miracle Creator Multi-Tasking Hair Mask.

As long as you follow O’Connors expert advice, you can have the healthy rainbow textured hair of your dreams.

Looking for personalized expert advice about coloring textured hair? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.

You may also like: Natural Hair Types Chart | What Type Am I?

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