Q: I have allowed my daughter since the age of 12 or 13 to get her hair colored. We have always gone to a professional (I
wouldnít dare try to do it). Her natural color is light brown or dirty blonde. Sheís been lighter blonde to red with some black
then red with some bleached blonde. Itís always turned out nice and looks healthy, but I wonder, in the long run, will this damage
her hair in any way. Sheís now 14 and weíre about to go back close to her natural color Ė maybe a little darker. Please let me know
your thoughts as I hope we havenít screwed it up already.
A: To be honest, any chemical service takes a certain toll on the hair. Some processes are harsher than others and the effects can
be mitigated with proper hair care and maintenance. Unless your daughterís haircolor changes have involved dramatically lightening the
hair (or lightening it repeatedly) you should be in reasonable shape.
That being said, I canít actually judge the health and condition of her hair without actually
seeing it, but from what youíve described, it sounds like her hair should be in reasonably good condition. Your stylist will be best
able to determine whether or not there is an issue that would make a ďtint-backĒ service problematic.
Youíre usually safer in coloring as long as you use deposit only colors. These tend to be much
less harsh to the hair, and have less risk of doing actual damage. If your choice of color requires that the starting color be
lifted to a lighter level, be sure that you donít lift the color level too much in one process. This is where most haircolor related
problems occur Ė the bleaching process. While deposit-only color processes simply introduce color molecules into the hair shaft,
high-lift processes use stronger formulations of peroxide (and sometimes a separate bleaching stage) to disperse the original color and then introduce a lighter tonal color.
I generally urge against doing anything to a minorís hair. This is for several reasons:
First, I feel that a person should be mature enough to be responsible for properly caring for
their hair before having perms, relaxers and hair color services. Most of these processes are harsh and require daily maintenance and
care to keep them looking their best. Many young people arenít mature enough to keep in mind that things like swimming in
chlorinated pools and seawater can have harmful effects on chemically treated hair, and few have the patience required to properly condition the hair every day.
Another reason to discourage chemical services in younger people is that as they mature and
their bodies develop, they can go through serious reactions to the chemicals used in various hair processes. These sensitivities
can come and go and a process that caused no problems once might lead to an allergic reaction the next time it is done. Then thereís
the fact that the hair may change as they mature and react differently from one process to the next.
Fortunately, most of todayís products are formulated to be gentler to the hair and scalp and
you can always do a patch test to check for chemical sensitivities before having a procedure done. I realize that by most peopleís
standards, I am overly cautious about doing nothing to harm the hair. But I know how most women (and especially young girls) feel
about their hair and would never want to see a young woman forced to cut off her long hair because of a bad reaction to a service that she didnít really need.
Donít let my statements imply that I think you made a mistake in letting your daughterís hair
be colored. Itís always a matter of choice, and as youíve always gone the wisest route and sought professional service, youíve done more than many mothers Iíve known.