So hair is my main strength in beauty besides makeup. As a professionally trained and licensed cosmetologist, I've been very obsessive about how I look... then again, I've ALWAYS been obsessed with beauty. o_o
Some things you may want to analyze about your hair:
- What type of hair do you have? (fine, medium, coarse)
- How dense is it? (just because your hair is fine, doesn't mean it's thin)
- What's the texture? (straight, curly, or somewhere in between)
- Does it feel really dry most of the time, or does it get oily very fast?
- How dark or light is your natural hair color?
- Are you starting to get grey hair?
First, let's address your hair type:
I personally have fine hair. This means, if you look at a cross section of the hair under a microscope, the diameter of the hair is smaller as opposed to medium or coarse. Our hair tends to get greasy, lay flat, and is hard to style. Though, there are some lucky bitches out there who have easily managed fine hair. Despite the myth of fine hair being weak, it's actually much stronger than coarse hair. It can withstand a lot in most cases.
We have issues with our hair looking flat and lifeless, but it doesn't always have to be this way! When cutting fine hair, especially STRAIGHT fine hair, you need to be careful not to make it too blunt. If you like conservative cuts, the hair stylist will use shears. When these cut the hair, it cuts it straight across. After he/she cuts your hair, they will give it a nice blow dry, and then finalize by cutting anywhere that needs to be fixed. Your hair behaves much differently when wet as opposed to dry, and because of this, most stylists will cut your fringe (bangs) dry.
If you're more trendy, like me, you'll want a razor cut. Using a razor on your hair will cut the strands at an angle instead of straight across like shears. This way you get a nice feathery look. We need more volume guys! This is where you need to decide if you want long or short hair. Most of us trendy girls go for the short cuts because it makes fine hair look much fuller. I personally like my hair chaotic for if and when I wanna style it, so I have them "create chaos," which means extra texturizing after it's dry. So if you want a razor cut, ask your hairdresser if they can do it. Frankly, I'd be surprised if they couldn't.
Coloring fine hair is a BREEZE. The processing time is significantly shorter than if you were coloring coarse hair. This is because the hair's diameter is smaller. Think of filling bowls with marbles. You have a small bowl and a big bowl. Fill both bowls to the top with marbles, then count how many ended up in each one. The small bowl will have a lesser number of marbles in it than the big bowl.
This type of hair is right between fine and coarse. The diameter of the cross section will be right in the middle. This is the "just right" hair texture to have. It can be styled more easily, whether it's straight or curly, it's still pretty strong in most cases, and the same cutting rules apply. If you have medium textured hair, girlfriend, you be living large. There's not even much to say about it!
Just like fine hair, there's a lot of speculation. Just because it's coarse, doesn't mean it's thick; I could have more hairs on my head than you do. Coarse hair can even be more delicate, especially if it's curly. If your hair is straight and coarse (which is often seen in Asian hair), then with cutting, I'd again suggest a razor, even for longer or more conservative cuts. It's easier to make the hair look too blunt if you use shears. But it IS also possible to feather the hair with texturizing shears. This is why Asians always have gorgeous hair; you can definitely be creative when cutting.
Coloring coarse hair, like I said before, will take a little longer than coloring fine hair. With either type, you'll just have to check it periodically. Coarse hair takes longer to fill, like filling the big bowl with marbles.
There's not much to say on this matter except what I've said before; you can have thick and fine hair, and you can have thin and coarse hair. That's the ugly truth. So when cutting, you really got to analyze the client's hair. If it's fine, you don't want to cut too much volume out, and when it's thin, you have to be even MORE careful! Women want hair with body, and if you take too much out, you're going to make your client very unhappy. There goes your tip!
My hair is STICK straight, except for some coarse, curly hair near the mastoid process, but that's because that's where I pull (damn Trichotillomania). If you have straight hair, just like mine, it's often very durable and resistant. The hair is made up of three layers; cuticle, cortex, and medulla. The cuticle is the outside of the hair, and usually people with straight hair have a cuticle that's tightly shut, making it more resistant. Does your hair dry really fast? Does hair color fade quickly? Well, chances are, your hair is resistant. If I let my natural hair grow out and color it with semi-permanent hair color, it will NOT stick. The cuticle won't open to let the color molecules in! I have to bleach my hair to blast it open, even though I already have light blonde hair!
Curly hair is actually very fragile. If you look at a cross section of curly verses straight hair, the curly hair will be in the shape of an oval, as where the straight hair will be a circle. This makes the hair VERY breakable. Just ask anyone with this type of hair (usually black people have this type of hair). There are actually salons that are specifically for black hair. In fact, some black women will get weaves or even wigs because they don't want to have to deal with their own hair. If you have this type of hair, you must be VERY careful when bleaching, coloring, perming, or relaxing the hair. I'd even put your flat iron on a lower temperature if I was you.
There's not a LOT of problems with cutting it, but you must be VERY careful while coloring, perming, or relaxing. Bleach is the number one threat to curly hair, and you must be VERY careful while doing it. Don't use a high volume if you can help it; I'd stay at 20 or lower. But, if the person has really dark hair, lightening it can be a challenge. NEVER bleach your own hair! Always go to a professional!
Using regular color is a little better, but you still need to be careful. Permanent color is the most damaging, so I would use demi-permanent. Semi-permanent does little to no damage despite what you hear because it doesn't use peroxide or ammonia in it. If you ever think you know more about hair color than a professional, you're wrong. ALWAYS. Just because YOU know YOUR hair, doesn't mean you know how hair color works with it.
Perming and relaxing is always tricky, no matter what hair texture you have. In fact, I'd personally NOT want to do it again if I could help it, because it's very stressful. I've never messed up before, but still... I'm terrified of it. XD NEVER perm or relax your hair at home! Those box products are CRAP and you have no idea what you're doing! "But it's worked for me before!" No, it LOOKS like it worked, but you have no idea what you just did to the structure of your hair. ALWAYS go see a professional. Broke? Well, it's worth it. Would you rather have great hair and no money or no hair and just a little money? ._.
Moving on from hair types and textures. Does your hair feel dry or brittle? Does it feel more like a horse's main? What about split ends? I've honestly not had any split ends since I was a preteen, and I never condition my hair. My hair get oily so fast, it gives my hair all the moisture it needs! Of course I have to wash it every two days which is a pain, but whatevs. Greasy hair feels and looks gross.
But if you have VERY dry hair (it looks dry, it feels dry, and it's just like a big ball of BLECK on your head), then I have some suggestions.
First, MAKE SURE you're not over washing your hair! No matter what anyone says, NEVER WASH YOUR HAIR EVERY DAY! If you need to shower every day, great, but washing your hair every day is BAD. The shampoo strips your hair from natural oil it needs to stay healthy. Oil isn't always bad guys! Being over 60% (sometimes 75%) water, we need these oils to keep our hair and skin healthy. If your hair gets greasy faster than mine, every other day is fine. But if your hair is super dry, I'd try going about three days in between washes. If it's still not greasy by the fourth day, maybe even wash it once a week. But definitely shower more than that.... that's nasty. XD
Another thing you can do is get a REALLY good moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Brands you can always trust: John Frieda, L'Oreal, Tresseme, Aussie, Nexxus, Vidal Sassoon, and usually more expensive brands. (If you're not sure, consult a professional.) Brands to AVOID: Herbal Essence, Garnier, Suave, Vol. 2, any store brand knock offs... again, ask a professional. These shampoos and conditioners have ingredients to make your hair look "shiny," when in fact, they are COATING the hair with a plastic-like material. Overlapping this material will make your hair feel and BECOME in worse condition.
If moisturizing shampoo and conditioner is STILL not doing the trick, take your moisturizing conditioner and add liberal amounts to your wet hair. Put on a shower cap and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. If you have any way to put heat onto it, do so. I usually just wear a hat over the shower cap. >_> The heat will open the cuticle and allow more moisture to enter and get absorbed by the cortex. NOM NOM NOM! If you can find a good moisturizing conditioner with keratin in it, that's even better, for that's what your hair is made of.
Okay, this next part applies more to coloring (which I'll cover later). Hair has different tones, which means how much red is in your hair. Do you have naturally dark hair? REALLY dark? Ever tried bleaching it just to have it turn red or orange? Yup, that's the tone. Those of us blessed with light blonde hair can achieve the color white with no problem, but people with darker hair have to work harder to become blonde.
Think of it this way: black hair = red, brown hair = orange, lighter brown or darker blonde = yellow, and light blonde = VERY pale yellow. So if you've ever bleached your hair and gotten red to ugly canary yellow, you're exposing those tones. That's why I recommend going to a professional for darker hair, especially those closer to black.
But there IS a way to get those tones out of your hair! Again, I recommend going to a professional for this. Think about the color wheel. Each color has what's called a complimentary color. This means, if you mix complementary colors, you'll get a neutral color, which is brown. Red's complimentary color is green, so your hair stylist will have to use a toner with green tones to neutralize the red. Orange belongs to blue, and yellow belongs to violet. If you've ever heard of a blonde using a "purple" shampoo, they're using it to keep their hair from unveiling those yellow tones. I don't advise trying to tone your hair on your own... you could wind up with moss green hair!
If you have dark hair and want to go to a light brown, or even go punky like pink or purple, you NEED to bleach your hair. "But I'm scared!" That's why you go to a professional. Try this: get a piece of brown construction paper and a piece of light yellow or white construction paper. Now, get a marker of the color of your choice (i.e, pink, purple, blue, etc). Draw a line on each paper with the same marker. You'll notice how the color doesn't even show up right on the brown paper! That's all your hair is, a piece of paper that you're coloring on. If you try and put pink on dark hair, you're NOT gonna get pink.
Are you graying? Even just a little? Well, the only thing I have to say is, don't use permanent hair color. Use demi-permanent. Demi-permanent hair color's MAIN purpose is to cover grey hair evenly, and that's what you want! Bleaching grey hair is impossible because it's lost its pigment (unless you have that really DARK grey hair, then I think you can lighten it). If you've got really light grey or white hair, you can easily make it a natural looking blonde with a non-lightening blonde color.
Speaking of color, let's talk about that terrifying topic! Yes, coloring your hair CAN cause damage to your hair, but if you're careful and know what you're doing, you can avoid significant amounts of damage easily.
Hair color comes in four different types; permanent, demi-permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary. All these terms tell you is how big the color molecule is and how far in it'll go. Permanent color molecules are TINY, and therefore can penetrate the cuticle easier to get into the cortex. Once in the cortex, the molecules have a hard time getting out, which is why permanent color stays in so long.
Demi-permanent color's molecules are slightly bigger. Basically, most of the molecules will get into the cortex, but some will sit outside on top of the cuticle. Because of this, the color doesn't stay quite as long as permanent, but it's still pretty long lasting. It's also easier to get out if you want to change colors.
Semi-permanent hair color differs from the previous two in this way; you don't need a developer! With permanent and demi-permanent hair color, you need a hydrogen peroxide developer to activate the color. Semi-permanent is basically a paint. The molecules are much bigger now, and very few get inside the cortex. Most of them just sit in different layers of the cuticle, waiting to be washed out. This is why semi-permanent doesn't last very long and ends up fading to a pastel color. If you want your color to last longer, wash your hair in cold water and use a color protecting shampoo and conditioner.
Last but not least, there's temporary. The molecules are so big, they can't get passed the cuticle at all! They just chill on top and are able to be washed out with a single wash. This is good to use if you're not sure what color looks best on you. Brands of temporary hair color that come to mind are Fanci-ful and SPLAT Washables. Color also comes in sprays and colored spiking gel. Sometimes they'll even come in a mascara type tube with an applicator. Either way, there's no harm done to your hair.
Stay away from henna hair color. Yes, it's natural and pretty, but it coats your hair, making it feel like a horse tail. No one wants that... unless you have a strong desire to be a horse.
NEVER EVER EEEEEEEEEEEEVER use box color!! Box color is the worst thing you can put on your hair! It has metallic dyes in it which damages your hair WAY more than any other color you'll use. And if you see a box of color that says "no ammonia," that's utter crap. Box color that says it has no ammonia actually has about 2% ammonia in it, and even that small amount can cause harm to your hair. You can find beauty supply stores that sell tube color and developer, such as Salley's or Jade's.
Now to talk about BLEACH! (dun dun duuuuuun!) Scary, yes? Not as much as you'd think. Bleaching your hair is risky, but it can be done safely if you know your hair and how it responds to chemicals.
Just like permanent and demi-permanent hair color, bleach needs a developer to work. Developers come in different volumes ranging from 6-40.... but I've heard that in some salons, they have up to 120 volume! DAMN! Basically, the higher the volume, the faster it'll work. My own hair usually only needs a 10 volume to lighten, 20 if the color is REALLY persistent. What the bleach does is eats the color molecules as it oxidizes. Once it's fully oxidized, it'll stop eating. But if you use 40 volume when you should be using 20, the bleach will work faster. So if it finishes off the color, what's left to do? Well, eat the hair of course! When this happens, your hair will become spongy and stretchy, and some of us in the beauty industry affectionately refer to it as "spaghetti hair."
When you've managed to get spaghetti hair, there's NOTHING you can do to repair it! You'll just have to cut off the damaged parts, cause when the hair dries, these parts are just gonna break off anyway. This is why it's very important not to jump to the conclusion that you need a more powerful developer.
Some steps you can take to avoid over bleaching: First, do a test strand. Take a small section of hair somewhere underneath where it can't be seen, slap some bleach on, and wrap it in foil. Leave it on for about forty minutes, then open it up and check how light it is and if the ends are stretchy. If you need to, let it sit longer. If your hair feels nice and undamaged, you may proceed to doing the whole thing, but be aware there's an already lightened strand in there, so that could get heavily damaged if it's bleached for a second time.
The next step to take is, KEEP AN EYE ON IT! While it's processing, keep checking to see if it's lightened to where you want it AND if the ends are stretchy or not. This is how you will tell if you're hair is done and/or damaged. Don't let it get that far though! If your hair is light enough and the ends are fine, it's time to wash out the bleach. Don't wait any longer.
Even if you don't get spaghetti hair, bleached hair can still come out feeling dry. Take the steps I explained earlier about dry hair, and you'll be fine. Note that you're not gonna see much of a difference after doing it once; you need to do it frequently.
Removing hair color can be a bitch and a half. Some things you can do to get those pesky molecules out are as follows...
One, if you have access to hard water, wash your hair with that. "What the frag is hard water?" Hard water is water that has more... well... stuff in it. Treated water like you find in California is hard, but if you have well water, THAT's what you wanna use. Soft water is what you'd find in places like Idaho and Washington... it comes from the mountains and is so fresh, you can drink it straight from the sink! It tastes like bottled water! Man, when I came to California.... I was scarred. XD
Another thing you can do is take a hot shower. Turn the water to as hot as you can stand it, but DON'T BURN YOURSELF! Heat opens the cuticle wide open so the color can fall out more easily. You can also wash your hair with a shampoo that's not meant to preserve color, like a clarifying shampoo. Or find a shampoo from Dove! They're not bad, but they're not really good either.
Color still persistent? Color removers! You CAN find them in drug stores, but it might be better to go to a professional. I've used store bought ones though, they're not TOO bad. Just follow the instructions, slap a shower cap and some heat on that, and try to ignore the putrid odor.
*Sigh* Color still not gone? Well, desperate times call for desperate measures.... bleach it. I've bleached my hair three times in a row before.... "OH MY GLOB!" Yes, I was prepared for... no, EXPECTING spaghetti hair, but I didn't get it! My hair remained as soft as ever. It's because of my hair's resistance and oils that moisturize it. I'm lucky in that sense.
Heat products can be dangerous if you don't use them right. Never turn a flat iron to its highest temperature, especially if your hair is weaker. Use heat protecting products when flat ironing and blow drying. And NEVER trust a flat iron that says "wet to dry." There's no such thing. If you flat iron wet hair, it's gonna hurt the hair, and it's gonna hurt you.
I've been writing this for two hours, I need to go do something else. I'll add more stuff later!