StrawberryBlonde natural hair dye

by Alon­dra (pic­tured above)

There are some of us curly girls who pre­fer to keep it 100% nat­ur­al. You know, no chem­i­cals, no heat, no styling utensils…no any­thing! On the oth­er hand, there are many of us who actu­al­ly pre­fer to exper­i­ment with our nat­ur­al hair. Some of us rock it straight at times. We weave it up for a bit and for the dare dev­ils, play around with col­or! *Dun, dun, duu­u­un*

Now I know the thought of chem­i­cal­ly alter­ing the hair in any way always presents some form of a risk (and I’ve learned this the hard way). How­ev­er, there are safer ways to col­or the hair and suc­cess­ful­ly avoid dam­age.

But first, let’s start with the basics. There are four types of hair dyes: tem­po­rary, semi-per­ma­nent, demi-per­ma­nent, and per­ma­nent. Out­side of those dyes, there is anoth­er prod­uct that will change your hair col­or which is sim­ply called “hair bleach”. Let me say this, hair bleach is not to be con­fused with col­or, because it is actu­al­ly col­or­less. It is a sub­stance that chem­i­cal­ly removes col­or, be it nat­ur­al or dye, from the hair. So now that we know the prop­er names, how do these dif­fer from one anoth­er and which way is the best way to go to main­tain healthy hair?

ChocolateBrown natural hair dye

Try to keep up because I’m about to break it down:

1. Tem­po­rary Col­or: This type of col­or is the least com­plex of them all. It’s just as the name suggests…temporary. This col­or is only used to mask or cov­er a pre-exist­ing col­or and it does this by mere­ly coat­ing the hair cuti­cle. It does not pen­e­trate the hair shaft and can­not, in any way, light­en hair. It can also give your hair a nice lit­tle hue when sun­light hits it. You most like­ly won’t be able to see it in a fil­ter­less pic, but maybe hit it with the “Valen­cia” or “Rise” fil­ters and you’re good to go! Any who, because of its char­ac­ter­is­tics, tem­po­rary hair col­or will like­ly rinse out dur­ing your next two or three shampoos…and it can get messy. Real messy.

2. Semi-Per­ma­nent Col­or: This type of col­or is a lit­tle step up from tem­po­rary in that it actu­al­ly does pen­e­trate the cuticle…this is called deposit­ing. All semi-per­ma­nent col­ors will require a devel­op­er that helps to raise the cuti­cle so that the col­or can be deposit­ed just under­neath it. Just like tem­po­rary col­or, semi-per­ma­nent does not have the abil­i­ty to light­en the hair. So don’t waste your mon­ey pur­chas­ing Bad Gal Blonde in semi-per­ma­nent form when your hair is that of a 1B. It ain’t gon’ work, dar­ling. I tried that too. These types of col­ors typ­i­cal­ly have a life span of about six to eight weeks and will wash out grad­u­al­ly.

3. Demi-Per­ma­nent Col­or: The only dif­fer­ence between demi per­ma­nent col­ors and semi is the size of the mol­e­cule. These col­ors have a small­er mol­e­cule than semi-per­ma­nent col­ors and for this rea­son, demi-per­ma­nent col­ors are actu­al­ly able to pen­e­trate all the way to the cor­tex of the hair.

*Side Note: the cor­tex is the thick­est lay­er in a hair strand and con­tains most of the hair’s pigment…which, of course, gives it the col­or*

Get­ting back to the top­ic, now although demi-per­ma­nent col­ors can get a lit­tle deep­er, they still do not have any lift­ing prop­er­ties. So you still can’t light­en your hair with it, but you can enjoy what­ev­er col­or you have for a sig­nif­i­cant­ly longer time. Also, instead of rins­ing out, this col­or will actu­al­ly fade over time.

4. Per­ma­nent Col­or: Now we’re run­ning with the big dogs. If these were rela­tion­ships, tem­po­rary col­or would be the boo that only your best friend knows and per­ma­nent would be your hus­band. In short, it’s a com­mit­ment. Per­ma­nent col­ors, in con­junc­tion with a devel­op­er,  are designed to pen­e­trate the through the cuti­cle and cor­tex, bond with hydro­gen per­ox­ide to pro­duce larg­er tint mol­e­cules, and per­ma­nent­ly change the col­or of the hair from the inside out. Because of these prop­er­ties, per­ma­nent col­ors have the strength not only to deposit col­or to the hair but also light­en in depend­ing on the lev­el of the devel­op­er used. Need­less to say, per­ma­nent col­or is there to stay unless you col­or over it, lift it, or grow it out.

5. Hair Bleach: Remem­ber that bleach IS NOT a col­or. It is a chem­i­cal made up of ammo­nia and per­ox­ide that work togeth­er to light­en hair col­or. The ammo­nia is there to lift the cuti­cle of the hair and acti­vate the bleach­ing prop­er­ties in the per­ox­ide so that any col­or is lift­ed out of the cor­tex of the hair. Typ­i­cal­ly once the col­or is lift­ed to the desired lev­el, the col­orist may opt to leave it as is or deposit anoth­er col­or back into the hair. This is com­mon for those who have dyed their hair dark and wish to have a lighter col­or. Now of all the col­or alter­ing options for hair, bleach would be the strongest out of any of them and must be used care­ful­ly and in mod­er­a­tion. If not, the integri­ty of your hair could be in jeop­ardy.

GoldenBlonde natural hair dye

Now that we’ve got­ten all of the sci­ence out of the way, which one is actu­al­ly worth your while and the risk? I hap­pen to love hair col­or and have had expe­ri­ences with all five options; each one has its pros and its cons:

  • Tem­po­rary col­or is the safest and doesn’t harm the hair in any way. How­ev­er, it’s a pain to have to reap­ply every cou­ple weeks and even worse clean the dye out of the tub or sink! I’m straight on that.
  • Semi-per­ma­nent is cool and all. In fact, it would be great for me if I tend­ed to switch hair col­or rather fre­quent­ly (year­ly is fre­quent in my book)…but I’d rather not recol­or every cou­ple months…nor am I try­ing to dish out my hard earned mon­ey every cou­ple months at the salon either. I saved a lot of mon­ey when I switched to No Relaxer…and I’m keep­ing it that way.
  • Demi-per­ma­nent was actu­al­ly my favorite. It was still rather gen­tle on the hair and just by the time I was get­ting tired of it, it would begin to fade. I prob­a­bly got my dyes done twice a year with demi-per­ma­nent col­or, which is per­fect for me. 80 dol­lars annu­al­ly at the salon doesn’t sound bad at all.
  • The only rea­son I don’t like per­ma­nent col­or is because, well, it’s per­ma­nent; how­ev­er, even though it’s ride or die, the col­or still didn’t neg­a­tive­ly affect my hair health. I’d rather not oblige to a col­or if I don’t have to…because get­ting rid of it is a pain.
  • I could sim­ply say that hair bleach is a weapon of the healthy hair ene­my and leave it at that…but I’ll elab­o­rate. Not only does it strip col­or from the hair, but it strips out mois­ture and loosens the curl pat­tern. It’s hor­ri­ble! It real­ly changes your hair for the worst. Now it is a quick way to change your look and give you some­thing dras­tic and fabulous…however it is not worth it. You will hear women say that their hair is fine and com­plete­ly healthy after bleach­ing, and they can feel that way…but that process is stress­ful on the hair and can cause alter­ations that you didn’t desire, whether you notice it or not. That is why I’m cur­rent­ly grow­ing out a per­ma­nent col­or as opposed to get­ting it lift­ed out with bleach. This process is painstak­ing­ly long, but it’s worth the time for a healthy head of curls.

    So I’ve giv­en you the tea and I hope that you sip respon­si­bly. Per­son­al­ly, I would rec­om­mend the demi-per­ma­nent col­or option over all of the oth­ers, but of course, it is com­plete­ly sub­jec­tive. And oh…go ahead and employ a licensed cos­me­tol­o­gist to assist you in what­ev­er hair col­or goal you may have. I’ve seen far too many heads come back unrec­og­niz­able from the kitchen. But that’s none of my busi­ness. ?

         What col­or­ing options do you pre­fer and what are some of your expe­ri­ences?

    About Alon­dra: Joke telling, hair pick tot­ing, life-liv­ing South­ern Bell by way of Mem­phis, Ten­nessee. I’m a young,educated black woman pur­su­ing dreams by day and a super hero by night; my pow­ers reside in my mind. To state it sim­ply, I plan to save the world one con­ver­sa­tion at a time. @Color_Me_Diva @MyManeThang


    Dor­cas Wood­son, licensed cos­me­tol­o­gist

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    19 Comments on "5 Things Every Natural Should Know Before Choosing a Hair Color"

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    My expe­ri­ence with bleach was hor­ren­dous I went to a hair­dress­er for High­Lights only she bleached all of my nat­ur­al hair.…cut a long sto­ry short in 2 days I had to cut it down to 2cm short from neck length or walk around with a dry crisp cot­ton wool look­ing hair do…NEVER AGAIN!


    I went from hav­ing orange, red, blonde,black and brown and my hair has not been dam­aged by bleach. The lack of knowl­edge on how to take care of col­or treat­ed hair has been the prob­lem.


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    I dis­agree with your opin­ion on bleach. I have bleached kinky curly hair, and my hair has grown as healthy and strong as any oth­er nat­ur­al with col­ored treat­ed hair. I deep con­di­tion my hair one to two times a month and be sure to keep it mois­tur­ized dai­ly, and my mane is fine. So no, bleach does com­plete­ly destroy your nat­ur­al hair if it is prop­er­ly cared for.

    I wasn’t imply­ing that it com­plete­ly destroyed the hair. In fact, MY hair wasn’t com­plete­ly destroyed. It grew just as it should and nev­er broke off. I hap­pen to DC weekly…my hair care reg­i­men is up to par, if I do say so myself. However.…it DID alter my hair. It was tol­er­a­ble and if I want­ed to I could still bleach…but I notice that my hair’s elas­tic­i­ty, mois­ture bal­ance, and full­ness is bet­ter with­out it. Those are all things that nat­u­rals val­ue and bleach­ing can neg­a­tive­ly affect that. I think the prob­lem with many nat­u­rals is that when they hear… Read more »
    Cece Danielle

    I’ve col­ored my hair using Clairol tex­tures and tones about 3 times, and each time I’ve nev­er expe­ri­enced adverse effects. I also plan to col­or my hair like 6 months in advance so that I know to start adding pro­tein to my deep con­di­tion­ers and I’ll start adding more mois­ture than nor­mal. Then when I final­ly do col­or my hair, I always add a pro­tein treat­ment after col­or­ing, and every month after a sham­poo. I just add eggs to my con­di­tion­er. My hair is still very healthy.


    Appar­ent­ly, hon­ey has some hair light­en­ing prop­er­ties because of the nat­ur­al hydro­gen per­ox­ide found in hon­ey. It’s no where near as dra­mat­ic look­ing as the results above but it’s a fun sub­tle and nat­ur­al change. Also, hon­ey is such an awe­some con­di­tion­er! I wrote about it at my blog :)


    That hair col­or fits her per­fect­ly, the make-up is per­fect and her lips are beau­ti­ful!!!

    Napturally Kia

    i dyed my hair a deep nat­ur­al brown col­or. afraid of bleach!!

    Tasha Nicole

    I dis­agree on the part about bleach. Yes, bleach can loosen the curl pat­tern and strip mois­ture, but as some­one who has bleached kinky-curly hair noth­ing has changed about my hair at all. It only took 3 deep conditioning/protein treat­ments to restore my mois­ture. I believe if you have a hair styl­ist that tru­ly know what they’re doing, then you should not have that prob­lem
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    +1 I bleached my hair for the first time, using a box kit to light­en the top of my hair on whim. I’d been retain­ing a lot of growth, so I thought I’d exper­i­ment before I became too attached to my hair. I was care­ful with my hair for a week or so, not using heat, adding lots of mois­ture, etc. and expe­ri­enced NO ill affects of my hair. And I have very fine hair, eas­i­ly dam­aged by phys­i­cal manip­u­la­tion. Which isn’t to say that bleach can’t be harm­ful: I’m sure t fre­quent­ly is. But when you come down to… Read more »

    My hair styl­ists knew what they were doing. I had ALWAYS been col­or treat­ed. So my nat­ur­al wasn’t tru­ly MY nat­ur­al. It wasn’t until I let my com­plete­ly nat­ur­al hair grow out that I real­ized that, in fact, my hair was dif­fer­ent. It was obvi­ous­ly much thick­er and the curls were tighter in the new growth. How many times have you col­ored your hair?

    Andrea Taylor

    I went with a per­ma­nent col­or. I went to a salon and had a pro­fes­sion­al col­or it for. I do the touch ups myself. I did not have a good expe­ri­ence in the salon so i will not be going back. I can touch up the roots myself. I love my col­or and have got­ten a ton of com­pli­ments on it. I just made sure I deep con­di­tioned my hair before get­ting it col­ored and after every root touch up which I stretch out to every 3 months.


    Where are the nat­ur­al hair style icons?? I need some inspi­ra­tion. Please start post­ing again

    Nice arti­cle. I have a rather unusu­al prob­lem with col­or­ing my nat­ur­al hair though. I love my nat­ur­al black hair col­or but i want to dye the ends of my nat­ur­al hair blonde just to enjoy the look. But you see, i don’t want any harm to come to my nat­ur­al hair at all, nei­ther do i want to stay com­mit­ted to hair dyes/other colours( I would like to go back to my nat­ur­al hair colour as soon as I get tired of the colour ). Now, from what I read in the arti­cle; only bleach and per­ma­nent hair dyes… Read more »
    You didn’t say how “blonde” you want­ed your tips to be. For a 100% tem­po­rary solu­tion, try May­belline Col­or Tat­too in Bold Gold or Bad to the Bronze. You can achieve a very nat­ur­al look­ing caramel or hon­ey­ish col­or and if you keep your hair off your shoulders/clothes it’s a min­i­mal mess. I’ve had suc­cess mix­ing eye­shad­ow in my gel (a la Long Hair Don’t Care aka Nik Scott from YouTube), using hair chalks, and using oth­er brands of eye­shad­ow. I per­son­al­ly think Maybelline’s Col­or Tat­too is the best val­ue for the mon­ey. For longer wear use a bit of… Read more »

    I for­got to add that the writer looks stun­ning in the pic­tures used in this arti­cle and I love the three dif­fer­ent hair colours that she has on( in the pic­tures ). I’m just curi­ous, but I won­der which brand of hair dyes she used.

    B3 Fearless

    I would love to col­or my hair. I’m in the mood for a bold straw­ber­ry blonde col­or, but 2 things stand in my way. #1 work­ing in a cor­po­rate envi­ron­ment and #2 It took me 2.5 years to go from 1/2 inch TWA to almost APL. I’m scared that my hair will get dam­aged or fall out from col­or. I’ve heard too many hair hor­ror sto­ries. I should con­sult a licensed cos­me­tol­o­gist because I am in the mood for a change.


    I sec­ond that licensed cos­me­tol­o­gist sug­ges­tion. I have already owned up to the things I can and can­not do regard­ing my beau­ty main­te­nance and col­or­ing hair is one of them. If you aren’t in a salon and don’t have a license there is NOTHING you can say to get me in your chair, kitchen or oth­er­wise lol