Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

New Hair Color

Q: Just a quick question. My mother has recently had the all clear of cancer of the esophagus. Will having her hair colored do any harm? Her hair has grown back nicely now and she would like a new change. She has used Harmony in the past but is now looking at other brands. My mother does not want bleach on her hair just to go darker shade of brown. I would really appreciate some help and advice on this matter. Thank you in anticipation.
A: The Harmony brand of haircolor products are what we call semi-permanent haircolor. These are color products designed to last from 6-12 shampoos before being completely washed away. Since the wash-out process is gradual, you have some leeway in your color maintenance schedule. There are other hair color types: these are temporary colors which last only until your next shampoo, and permanent colors, which last until the hair grows out and the color is cut off, or covered with another color.
Permanent colors include processes like highlighting and bleaching since these generally create a permanent condition or change in the color of the hair affected.
If your mother is looking to continue using a color that is not permanent, there are a variety of good products from the standard makers of haircolor (L'Oréal, Clairol, Wella, etc.) that are semi-permanent. The best advice I can give is to visit your local beauty supply or chemist's shop (pharmacy/drugstore) and look through the semi-permanent color products for a shade which appeals to your mother. Try to stay reasonably close to her natural shade. In other words, try not to go more than two to three levels darker at most.
Remember, since we are using haircolor that is deposit-only (meaning it does not lighten the hair before applying color) the haircolor applied will "stack" with the hair's natural color. This can result in darker hair than expected. Most products will include photos showing a recommended natural shade for use with a given color product, be sure to pay attention to these recommendations before you select a color for use.
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