What Hair Color Is Good for African American Relaxed Hair?

Ever thought of dyeing your hair red like Rihanna? Find the right hue for you.

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

If your African-American tresses are relaxed and you want to experiment with color, you have a couple of factors to consider. Since relaxed hair has been chemically processed, coloring it can dry it out and lead to breakage if it's not done correctly. You'll also want a shade that looks natural against your skin tone. Learn how to pick your perfect shade and rock a fashionable relaxed, colored 'do.

Going Lighter

If you want to go lighter, you'll have to accept the possibility of hair damage. Lightening hair involves using peroxide, which strips hair. Applying peroxide over relaxed hair results in double-processing, which can be super drying to the hair and result in breakage, so avoid lightening your hair at all costs.


If you want to add blonde to your look, odds are that will involve lightening the hair. Instead of adding actual color to your hair, ask your stylist about blonde extensions that can be integrated into your hair to become subtle streaks. This way you'll get to have fun with blonde without damaging your coif. If your skin is lighter, try ash blonde. Medium skin tones look fab in strawberry blonde shades and dark skin works best with caramel blonde tones.


A fierce, fiery red can really up the sultry factor. The darker the skin tone, the deeper your red shade should be, Redken hair color consultant David Stanko tells "Essence" magazine. If you've got a medium skin tone, you're in luck. Pretty much any shade of red works well for you. If you're lighter skinned, try something more subtle, like red highlights. Just remember, no matter what color you pick, to keep your hair moisturized. Try color conditioners to keep your hair healthy and your color looking fresh.


Brown hues are a simple way to subtly update your look but still leave it looking natural. If you're dark-skinned, play with rich brown highlights. Ladies with medium and light skin tones look fantastic in lighter and darker brown shades. Regardless of what color you choose, make sure to opt for a semi-permanent or temporary color that's free of peroxide, a compound that will cause damage to relaxed tresses. As long as you steer clear of peroxide, and keep your locks hydrated, your colored, relaxed hair can be fab.

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