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When can I colour my new hair?

Generally speaking, as long as your hair and scalp are healthy, and you do a skin-sensitivity test for colour, there is no specific length required to apply all-over colour to the hair. However I would recommend that you allow at least an inch of hair to grow before colouring it, so that you can be sure that the hair is of a good quality.

Colouring hair is a great way to add some individuality to shorter styles but many people are very nervous about any possible damage to the new hair. There are plenty of clever techniques and natural colours to use both at home and at the salon. Natural henna, semi-permanent and permanent colours, coloured mousse and cover sticks are just a few ideas you might think of trying.


Emma, pictured here looks great with her new bright red hair 

Colouring your new hair growth

There are many different ways to add colour to your hair. In this section we will look at a broad range of options so that you can have a good overview of what is available and best suited to you. A good colour can really work wonders on even the very shortest of hair.

You must ensure that your hair and scalp are in a good condition, and that you carry out any sensitivity tests recommended, so that the colouring product does not end up causing you a problem.

Remember if you are worried about colouring your new hair just check first with your medical team, once you have their approval it may be helpful and offer peace of mind, to have a chat with a professional hairdresser.

All good salons will offer a consultation free of charge.

What is a sensitivity test and do I have to do one?

If you are using a permanent or semi-permanent colour then YES.

It is possible to be allergic to anything, be it natural or manmade, whether it is a food such as a nut, a medicine or a cosmetic product. Occasionally people do have an allergic reaction to hair colorants, but it is quite rare to have an extreme reaction.

Some colorants have stronger chemicals than others, but it is possible to have a reaction to even the most natural colours such as Henna. So a sensitivity test is a way to check that you are not allergic to a product. A professional salon will do this for you. If you are using a home kit, the instructions will tell you if you need to do one and how to do it.

How do I do a sensitivity test?
The test is very simple and normally takes less than a minute. Most manufacturers recommend that 24–48 hours prior to colouring you do a test.

This normally involves mixing up a tiny amount of the product and dabbing a small amount behind your ear and leaving it there. If you have any reaction, redness, itchiness or anything else, then you should not colour your hair and I would suggest you contact either the manufacturer or a hairdresser for some advice.

Now it gets tricky here because many people will say that their hair is a bit itchy, slightly sensitive or irritable after colour and I would agree that a light sensitivity is normal. BUT, you really need to take care as your skin and scalp may be more sensitive than normal. If in doubt get professional advice.

Techniques and tips for colouring new hair
This picture (below) was taken after Jane's third round of mini foils “I had my first tiny foils put in when my hair was about one and a half inches – its makes all the difference to me” Jane

Once you have 1 – 2 inches in length, and no issues of concerns, then the world of colour is open to you. Below are some techniques and ideas that are particularly good for short hair.

All over colour
This can be applied to almost any length of hair even one centimetre. We recommend that you opt for natural and organic colour brands that have less harsh chemicals and offer beautiful shine.

You can create all over colours using Temporary Colours such as a mousse to Semi-Permanent and Permanent Colours. Be as bold or as natural as you wish.

Flying colours/flashes/highlights
Great for very short hair. A professional hairdresser will be able to add streaks of colour to your hair by using a number of techniques.

Flying colours or flashes can be lighter or darker. This technique, ideal for short hair, involves layers of colour being painted onto an inch or more of hair using a fine tail comb or tint brush. This creates tones in the hair by adding very fine strips of permanent colour. This helps to add texture and definition to short hair.

Some home colour kits have combs and brushes to try and achieve a highlighted look but this can be tricky so if you are not good with these types of things, a hairdresser is your best option.

Foils for 1.5 centimetres and longer
These are used to add streaks, highlights, lowlights and flashes of normally permanent colour (but can also be henna). A professional hairdresser may be able to use foil on short hair, normally at least 1.5 inches of length is needed as a minimum.

Home colours
If you fancy giving it a go at home then we recommend giving the natural and organic colour brands a try, they are easy to use and use less harsh chemicals.

Remember that you will still need to carry out a skin sensitivity test.

Covering greys and white hairs
To effectively cover natures unwanted highlights! You will normally need to use a semi-permanent, or for complete coverage, a permanent colour.

My hair is grey or white - What shade of colour will best suit me?
The depth of your grey and your skin colour will determine which shades are best suited to you. As a common rule, those with lighter natural skin shades should avoid colours that are too dark. As we age our skin tone changes and even if we had dark brown hair in our youth our skin tone may suit a lighter shade now. Those with darker skin shades are normally fortunate enough to be able to take strong and deep colours.

Most good hair salons will offer you a free consultation, they can look through a shade chart with you and make some recommendations.

Natural and organic options
There are some beautiful colour options integrating natural and organic ingredients.

During cancer treatment and recovery many people start to look at more natural alternatives for a whole host of reasons. Let us introduce you to some of the lovely brands who really are dedicated to offering high quality colour with less harsh ingredients.

Tints of Nature

Herb a tint – Home use kits

Daniel Field– Home use kits

Henna – Home use kits
You can buy from web sites, health shops, chemists and The Body Shop

Home colouring and choosing your colours yourself

Remember that you will need to do a skin sensitivity test.

Home colours - a few tips:
• Most manufacturers of home colour kits have good web sites and expert advice lines that in my opinion are very under used. On the back of the packet, or on the leaflet, you will normally find a contact number. Why not give them a call and chat through your colour options? It will help them if you can identify your current hair colour on their shade chart first, but don’t worry they will talk you through this.

• Follow the time instructions….the number one rule is to leave the colour on for the time suggested – that means not a bit longer or a bit less!. Many people tell us that they halve the time suggested because they don’t want the colour to be too strong – BUT actually colour needs a certain amount of time to do its job properly. For example if you are trying to lighten hair and take the colour off before the suggested time then the colour may be more orange than blonde because the colour has not had sufficient time to develop. So follow the time instructions!

• Invest in a good tint (colouring) brush and bowl and use a sponge to help apply colour to difficult to reach areas

• Use a barrier cream to stop staining around the hair line, a good wax based Vaseline or moisturiser in a thick layer will help to avoid stains



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