at-home haircare
Photograph courtesy of Imaxtree

The Dos and Don’ts of At-Home Haircare and Colouring

From Toronto-based Master ColourTech Carolyn Mila.

We’re all nearing (or in some cases may have already surpassed) two weeks of social distancing/self-isolation/quarantine, and for some us that fortnight is showing on our heads. But with most, if not all, hair salons across Canada closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re suddenly left to our own devices when it comes to haircare. Naturally, many of us have questions about to take care of our strands during this time and may have even contemplated colouring our hair to get us through. We spoke with Carolyn Mila, a Master ColourTech at Toronto’s Alibi Cutting Room to get her tips on the dos and don’ts of at-home haircare. Here’s what you need to know:

Given that all hair salons are now shut for the next little while, which hair colours need the most at-home attention during this time? What do you recommend people do for these hair colours to keep them healthy?

Brunettes with a higher percentage of greys require the most maintenance inside of the salon, and will require the most at home. There are plenty of options when it comes to root sprays and powders that will help you get through.

What do you recommend for those with roots that are growing out?

If you can, embrace it! The 90s are in y’all! Dark roots are where it’s at! Think Drew Barrymore, Courtney Love and Kate Moss. Just remember, we’re all in the same boat here. No one’s judging you.

Should anyone be attempting to colour their own hair at home? If they do, any tips on how to do it well?

Yes! And absolutely not! If your hairdresser takes you lighter than your natural base, then I would avoid trying to do it yourself. The underlying pigment of all hair is warm and when we lift it, that’s what gets exposed. Without proper formulation and toning, you could end up with a bright orange mane. And I promise you, you would prefer to be a brunette than a flaming hot Cheeto.

If you’re finding that your blonde is turning warm, do not try to tone it at home. Instead, evenly apply some purple shampoo to damp hair. Leave in for 10 minutes. Rinse, then shampoo a second time with your normal shampoo. The second shampoo will remove any of the purple shampoo that over-deposited so you don’t end up with grey strands.

Grey roots can feel emotional, and during this time we all want to feel good about ourselves, so if root spray is no longer cutting it, go for it. When choosing your colour, ignore what the description on the box says. Walnut sounds nice, but should be on a salad, not your hair. Look at the numbers. Hair colour is measured in levels: 1= black, 10= white. Most of us range between 5-7. Level 4, usually called “darkest brown”, can often read as black, and anything below that is black. Once you get above a level 7, you’re into the blonde category and you’re back in Cheeto territory. Try to stay as close to your natural colour as possible, but when in doubt, go a level lighter. You can always make something dark. I always lean towards ash tones as they help neutralize that warmth that naturally occurs in the hair.

When applying, section your hair along the part line. Apply the product just on your regrowth. Take small sections, and take your time (you have so much of it after all). There are so many YouTube videos you can look at if you need a visual aid. Also, don’t worry about the back of your head. It’s hard to be precise back there and literally no one is going to see it.

Any tips on how people can be restoring the health of their hair during this at-home time?

Put down the hot tools. Pick up the Olaplex. YouTube some ways you can style your hair without heat styling. I’m a big fan of braids. They look cute when they’re in and leave you with beach waves the next day. Don’t know how to braid? Now you have time to learn. Now’s also an opportunity to lay off that dry shampoo. With overuse it can clog your pores and scalp health is very important to your overall hair health. Be gentle with your hair during this time, but more importantly, be gentle with yourself. If giving yourself a blowdry or putting in some waves is what makes you feel good, DO IT. Do whatever you need to right now to feel good.

That being said, whatever you do, DO NOT dye your hair dark to “give it a break”. Firstly, it will not be even. You could end up with warm roots and greenish ends. Secondly, all that blonde is still under there, and once we’re out of this we’re going to have to lift through that artificial colour and damage it more. Your hairdresser will thank you.

Scroll through the gallery below to see eight of Carolyn’s favourite “tHAIRapy” products to add into your at-home haircare routine:


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