How Soon Do I Color My Hair Before or After a Relaxer?

The right timing can save your relaxed hair from hair color damage.

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Applying color to your relaxed hair is all about timing. The wrong color at the wrong time can leave your locks looking a frightful wreck. Dryness and hair breakage are just a few of the consequences that you may find yourself dealing with if you color too soon. If leaving the dye job to the pros is out of the picture, keep your relaxed mane in top shape by knowing when it's safe to color and when it's best to wait it out.

Before Versus After

Dyeing your hair before your relaxer may sound like a good idea, especially if those pesky roots are starting to show. As tempting as that might be, the best time to color is after you've relaxed and not before. The chemicals that allow the relaxer to straighten your locks can also strip the color from your hair, making it appear faded and dull. Worse yet, because relaxers have a higher pH than hair color and go deeper into the cortex of the hair to break down the inner bonds, applying it after you've colored can worsen any potential damage that's been done by the dye.

Permanent Hair Color

Permanent hair dyes are the real deal when you're talking color changes that last. Although they may not be in the same league of harshness as your relaxer, they do contain ammonia and peroxide and can damage your hair if applied the same day that you relax. If you're set on lasting color, practice patience and wait one (two is even better) weeks after your relaxer application. During that time treat your mane right by shampooing and conditioning it at least once before applying color to it.

Semi-Permanent Colors

This type of hair color lasts longer than temporary colors, but unlike permanent hair dye, it will only last roughly up to eight shampoos before it eventually washes out. That's because semi-permanent doesn't contain ammonia or peroxide the way permanent colors do. If your hair is undamaged, it is safe to use this type of hair color the same day you relax. If your hair's not in the best of shape and you know it, waiting is the best way to go.

Temporary Colors

Rinses, glazes and temporary hair colors don't have the chemical muscle it takes to penetrate your hair shaft. These mild-mannered hair colors work their magic by depositing a coat of color on the surface of your hair. This makes them the safest way to go when you're feeling a little bored with your natural hue but your hair's relaxed. Because they're deposit-only, temporary hair colors get thumbs up for application the same day.

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