My biggest fear when I thought about getting highlights was damaging my curl pattern. After dedicating almost a year and a half to transitioning, I did not want to be back at square one if I added color to my hair. However, I conducted as much research as I could for a month before I decided I was ready to take the step. I set my appointment for painted highlights with Curl Evolution a month in advance, in which I gave myself enough time to deep condition 2-3 times a week, and also to think further about my decision.
It’s now been two months since I got highlights, and it was amongst the best decisions I’ve ever made. In these two months, I have added no heat to my hair, deep conditioned once or twice a week, and stayed consistent with my product usage. For those of you who follow me on social media and are wondering, “Wait, but- didn’t she straighten her hair for her college graduation?” Nope. I ordered a Brazilian human hair wig with a color similar to mine and got it installed the night before.
When I told some of my friends and family about my wig idea, they looked at me like I was crazy and immediately thought I was going to sport a Ronald McDonald wig or something *laughs*. Of course not, I came up with this idea because I did not want to add heat to my hair, and since I dry cut my hair when it’s curly- I was sure it was going to look uneven when I straightened it. Now, whenever I want to “blow dry” my hair, I can simply get my actual hair braided and install the wig- voila! Fooled the “system.” Since I want to get more highlights and preserve my curl pattern, I also didn’t want to do anything that could possibly jeopardize that.
The last time I straightened my hair (I didn’t go in the hair dryer because I was in a rush- big mistake) and when I washed it, it was a disaster- the majority of my ends were split and my hair became super dry- eek! I dry cut my ends and abstained from adding heat ever since. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices (if that’s what you want to call it) to save your curls.
So, how do I (and how can you) maintain color and curl quality after color treating it?
1. Wash your hair using cold or lukewarm water.
Ever thought about why you should hand wash something with hot water? Because you want the stain out, right? That’s exactly what happens to hair dye. Hot water opens your hair cuticles, resulting in rinsing out the color.
2. Use sulfate-free shampoo when washing your hair.
Ever since I got my first set of highlights, I’ve used L’Oréal EverPure Blonde Shampoo to preserve my hair color. My hair color has not stripped ever since and in fact, it has added more radiance to my color. This shampoo also has natural botanicals and it is anti-fade- win win.
3. Use styling products that are safe for color-treated hair- read the labels and ingredients!
I always make sure to read the labels on every new product I buy, because not every product cares about the integrity of your hair. I recently invested in Renpure products, particularly loving their Coconut Water Replenishing Treatment Mist (found for $7 at most drugstores) because it clearly states “SAFE FOR COLOR TREATED HAIR” in the back- and I am the living testament that it’s true. I always use this product for my second-day hair and it revives it just after a few spritz and fluffing. Shea Moisture and DevaCurl products are also very safe for chemically processed hair.
4. Consult with a professional before dying your hair again.
My stylist is literally the only person I will go to when I am ready for a second session of highlights. She is very skilled at what she does, and I know my hair will always be in good hands with her. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend using box dye at home unless you know what you’re doing. However, the risk is that if you leave the dye in for too long and don’t deep condition after, you might lose your curl pattern to some extent and your hair will become brassy if you don’t use a toner. Although it is pricy, my stylist used Olaplex Bond Builder No. 1 and 2 in order to preserve my curl pattern and tone the color- worth it! Anyway, definitely do your research or speak to a hair professional before taking this step.
5. Repeat after me, “DEEP CONDITION, DEEP CONDITION!”
You’re not the only one who gets thirsty- your hair does too! Always remember to deep condition at least once (sometimes twice) a week. My deep conditioning routine is simple: cold or lukewarm water, shampoo, conditioner, Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil hair masque (perfect for chemically processed, color treated, and heat styled hair), detangle, wrap wet hair in a shower cap, go under the hair dryer for about 20 minutes, rinse, and style. Deep conditioning makes a big difference in the appearance and hydration of your hair, so it’s something you definitely want to keep as a part of your routine. When I was younger and didn’t know much about curly hair care, I literally thought deep conditioning meant adding tons of conditioner to your hair, in hopes it will moisturize it. Boy, was I wrong.