A newbie's guide to getting your hair coloured

Virgin hair.
A hairdresser's dream.
Virgin hair is that which has not been touched by toner or peroxide.
If you're looking at popping your colour cherry, this guide will give you a better understanding of how it works, the maintenance involved, and the limitations depending on your hair type and colour.

Consultation is key
If you've got your eye on a particular colour, we recommend firstly shopping around for the right salon/colourist.
There are plenty out there, any many like to specialise in a specific area - eg blonde specialists.
Once you've found "the one", go in and have a free-of-charge chat with them and see what they have to say about your hair (and get a quote).

What's the process?
It really depends on what you get done.
If you want to "lift" your colour (go lighter), you will need peroxide.
Most likely this will be done with "foils".
This is where the colourist paints sectioned pieces of hair with peroxide before wrapping each section in aluminium foil.
Depending on how dark or light you are will dictate how long you have to wait for the bleach to work to the desired level.
When the hairdresser is happy with the lift, they will bring you over to the basin, take out the foils and rinse out the peroxide.
They'll brush out the hair which can often be a little painful due to any teasing that is done during the foiling process.
The next stop: toner. This is where the colour magic happens.
The colourist will mix up your toner with a specific recipe and then paint that into your hair. That'll sit for 5 - 20 minutes, then be washed out before a cleanse and condition.
After this you'll head back to your mirror station where you'll either get a cut and/or blow-dry so you can see the results.

What is balayage?
Most likely, you've heard of the term balayage.
This is the easiest, lowest maintenance way of colouring your hair.
It is a style of highlight that works in with your natural colour.

The copper trend
If you want to get on board the copper bandwagon, just be aware that it is a high maintenance gig. Red tones are the hardest to achieve, and the easiest to fade.
That's not to deter anyone out there who's keen to get around it, just be prepared for the commitment.
Related: Caring for copper hair guide

Caring for coloured hair
Between salon visits, it's a good idea to get your hands around a toner or colour care cleanser and conditioner duo, as well as a hair mask.
Peroxide is notorious for damaging your hair, which means you need to be extra hot on keeping your hair healthy.
Here are a few recommendations for colour maintenance based on your hair:
Tone maintenance
Coloured hair fades
Be prepared for regular salon appointments (six to eight weeks is ideal) if you want to keep up the colour. Also be aware that you may not achieve your goal colour at your first appointment. It may take a few visits to hit the nail on the head.

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