7 ways to color your hair without killing it

Seashell hair, a lighter take on rainbow coloring, recalls the gentle iridescence of a shell’s interior, on a model in New York. ISAK TINER / THE NEW YORK TIMES

Want the beautiful color you've always dreamed of without sacrificing healthy hair?

You really can have both, according to Valerie Patton, a hair color chemist and chair of the California chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. She told Shape.com that while many dyes can leave your hair dry and brittle, there are tried-and-true strategies for coloring your hair in a healthy way.
"My advice is to be as nice to your hair as possible," Patton said.

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She and other hair experts offered these tips for healthy hair color in Shape.com:

Avoid ammonia. "It smells because it's a gas," said Patton, who recommended ammonia-free hair color for those who want to go more natural. Ammonia breaks down hair follicles protective outer layer to allow hair color through, but also makes the hair shaft more susceptible to damage, New York dermatologist Sejal Shah told Shape.


Credit: Contributed by BeautifullyAlive.org

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Credit: Contributed by BeautifullyAlive.org

Choose color-depositing conditioners. "If you really want to reduce your exposure to harsh ingredients the safest way, color-depositing conditioners and masks are best," Patton said. These dyes don't require a developer, so they're relatively gentle. The downside, Patton said, is that color-depositing conditioners are fairly temporary, so she recommends stocking up on color-safe shampoos and conditioners like Paul Mitchell Ultimate Color Repair Shampoo.

Healthy tips for post-coloring hair care

Once you've conquered healthy hair coloring, keep your color-treated hair healthy with these strategies from Oprah.com: 

Wash color-treated hair as infrequently as possible. Use only lukewarm water, since hot water opens the hair cuticle and allows pigment to seep out. Between washes, spritz roots with dry shampoo.

Condition often. Use a mask that has ingredients like shea butter, glycerin and keratin, which moisturize and repair. Apply the conditioner from midlength to your ends once a week.

BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 17:  Full-time hair stylist Sabina tends to a customer at the Cut and Color Friseur Klier hair salon in the Alexa shopping mall on May 17, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. Klier, a German, nationwide chain of hair salons, has taken the initiative in the current minimum wage debates by already introducing in 12 of its salons in eastern Germany the minimum wage that is to be implemented by new federal legislation. Klier has raised wages in the salons by 30% and also raised prices in an expirement to guage customer willingness to pay more. Germany is to implement a minimum wage of EUR 8.50 an hour for hair stylists and barbers nationwide by 2015.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Credit: Sean Gallup

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Credit: Sean Gallup

Avoid heat styling. Use a blow-dryer, flatiron or curling iron sparingly and only after spraying on a heat protector from your roots to your ends. This will help seal the cuticle and prevent the color from getting dull, according to Daniel Villano, a stylist at the Fifth Avenue New York Salon Fekkai.

Extend your dye job for two more weeks. Dust the long-lasting Color Wow Root Cover Up on the regrowth when your roots begin to show.