What Is Better: Cream Hair Dye or Liquid?

Both cream and liquid hair dyes have advantages and disadvantages.

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The perfect hair color has depth, shine, contrast and richness. It complements your skin tone, accentuates your haircut and takes your overall style from drab to fab. But achieving that perfect color can be a bit difficult -- especially if you're coloring your hair at home. Browsing the hair dye aisle can be a bit overwhelming. But if you understand the various advantages and disadvantages of cream and liquid hair dyes, you’ll be one step closer to achieving your perfect color.

Cream Dye: Advantages

The thick pasty texture of cream hair dyes often makes them easier to apply than liquid dyes. As the cream is applied to the hair, it adheres to the hair shaft and stays in place. As a result, you're less likely to have streaks of color running down your forehead and neck. Additionally, cream dyes tend to contain more conditioners and moisturizers than hair dyes. With proper and moderate use, cream dyes can actually help keep your hair moisturized and healthy. Cream dyes also tend to be more beneficial if you’re attempting to dye only specific sections of your hair. On the Behind the Chair website, Clairol Professional Color Master Anita Gutierrez explains that she often uses cream dyes when toning or highlighting the hair.

Cream Dye: Disadvantages

In regards to application, the main disadvantage of cream hair dyes is that they require the use of a cream developer. Since cream dyes have no thickening agents, you must also purchase the developer to get proper results from your dye. Although color application is relatively simple, the results might be less than fantastic. The color isn't always as rich and long-lasting as you might prefer. But since the dye is so easy to apply, it might not bother you to re-do the color more frequently.

Liquid Dye: Advantages

Liquid hair dye penetrates the hair shaft more quickly and effectively. As a result, it tends to deliver rich color with excellent depth and longevity. Clairol stylist Gutierrez explains that she prefers to use liquid color for clients with ethnic hair, which is often more difficult to dye. Since the developer is often built right into the product, no additional products are required to achieve your desired results. Liquid hair dyes can also be stretched a bit further than cream dye. If you have long hair, liquid color might be your best option.

Liquid Dye: Disadvantages

While liquid dye can stretch far enough to cover those long locks, it might also stretch down past your hairline. With its thin consistency, drips are common. Liquid hair dye tends to drip down onto the forehead and neck -- and it might even smear against the tops of your ears. When this occurs, it might stain your skin. Fortunately, a thin layer of petroleum jelly around your hairline can decrease the risk of skin stains. Just be sure to wear an old shirt, in case your liquid dye drips farther than you expect. Along with its drip disadvantages, liquid dye also tends to be less moisturizing than cream dyes. But if you’re diligent about using a conditioner made for color-treated hair, you shouldn’t have any problems with hair damage or dryness.

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