Dear Color Crew is a recurring blog post where we answer hair-related questions–no matter how hairy they may be–from readers like you. Got a question? Email our team of professional colorists at ColorCrew@Madison-Reed.com.
Dear Color Crew,
I know that hair is often split up into different parts when coloring it: roots, mid-lengths and ends. I’ve heard that each section requires a different processing time. How do I know which section is which, and how much time it needs to process color? This seems so complicated!
Timing really is everything when it comes to hair color...
Think of your hair in 3 sections: roots (new outgrowth of hair), mid-lengths, and ends (about an inch or two up from the bottom of your hair). Hair color processes on these sections differently. Of course, if you are only touching up your roots, you don’t need to apply color to the whole head of hair. (And if you’re coloring your hair for the very first time and going lighter, then we have specific instructions for you here.) But if you are making a color change, or need a color refresh, you should apply the color to the different sections of your hair with different processing times.
How Long Should You Process Roots?
When applying hair color, it’s best to start at your roots. If you’re covering gray roots, the color needs more processing time. But even if you don’t have gray hair, the hair at your roots is new outgrowth, and takes a bit more time. It’s a good idea to give your roots the most time to absorb color–at least a 10 minute head start, 20 minutes if you have stubborn grays at your roots.
How Long Should You Process Mid-Lengths?
Your hair at mid-length has had more exposure to the sun and environmental stressors, not to mention heat styling, etc. The mid-length of hair is a bit more porous, meaning the hair shaft is more open to receiving color than your roots. After you’ve let your roots process, gradually comb the color down through the hair, adding more color to the mid-lengths as needed. Please note: if you have previously colored your hair, you do not need to color the mid-lengths and ends each time. Rather, it is best to simply color your roots, and refresh the rest of your hair every 3 or 4 times you color. To do this, simply let the color process on your mid-lengths and ends for the last 5 or 10 minutes.
How Long Should You Process Ends?
The ends of your hair have been through the most, which means they accept color easily and don’t need as much processing time. Pull the color through your ends only when you are done saturating the roots and mid-lengths.
And there you have it–gorgeous, salon-quality, healthy-looking hair color that you can do yourself. Meet your talented new colorist...YOU!
More: 5 Tips for Achieving Flawless Hair Color