Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Home Hair Color Kits & Timing

Q: I have a question regarding home hair color kits, specifically: the timing. When the kits say to leave the color on for a specific time (i.e. ten minutes), do they mean from the moment you begin the coloring or from the moment you finish? You see, I have very thick hair and let's say it's divided into three sections for the coloring. By the time section 3 has been colored, section 1 has had the coloring sitting on it for far longer than ten minutes. So, I'm never sure exactly how long to wait to achieve the best results. Thank you for any advice you can give me.
A: With standard professional hair color formulas, which are purchased as separate color and developer in your beauty supply store, the combined color/developer mixture has a lifespan of about 30 minutes, after which time the product becomes inert and will no longer deposit color into the hair.
The newer formula haircolors (i.e. Clairol's Perfect 10 - which boasts that it will color the hair in 10 minutes) are formulated to allow the color to be fully developed and imparted into the hair in 10 minutes. Per the instructions for the color kits, you are to mix the color and immediately begin applying it to the hair. You should then leave the color on the hair for 10 minutes after you finish the hair. Hair color is designed to develop the color you choose in your hair until it reaches the shade offered on the packaging. Products like "Perfect 10" are intended to reach this full-development of color in 10 minutes.
woman timing her hair coloring

As for just how long you have to get the color fully applied to get it processed properly, the packaging states that Perfect 10 loses its effectiveness after an hour. As we mentioned above, traditional hair color formulas lose effectiveness in 30 minutes.
If you are having trouble getting your color applied quickly enough and are worried about failing to get the color applied in time, here's a suggestion:
Either purchase an extra haircolor kit or only mix part of the color and developer at first. (Color and developer are combined in equal parts, so one ounce of color with one ounce of developer.) Apply the color until it is all on the hair (be sure to apply the color in sections). Then mix the remaining color and developer and resume applying the color to the rest of the hair.
This will mean that your first section and batch of color will process first, but the other section will have enough "life" to develop the color on that part of the head, too.
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