Ten Tips to reduce Porosity in your Hair (and avoid darker colour results or colour fade)

We would all like to maintain peak colour – that hair highpoint when your fresh colour looks great.

However some of us are more likely than others to experience darker colour results than expected or colour fade after colouring our hair. This is typically due to porosity. Porosity means the hair will bot over-absorb colour (leading to darker colour results) and also leak colour (leading to faster colour fade).

Porosity can occur due to the natural texture of the hair. Hair which is very fine, for example, is more likely to over-absorb colour, and this can not be rectified, but it can be managed.

Your hairs porosity refers to how much moisture it can retain. Grab one strand of hair, hold it from the end and run two fingers up it towards your scalp. If you feel any ridges or bumps, then this can indicate porosity. The ridges are the cuticles on the outer layer of the hair, which should lie flat, but if they are raised you can feel them as little bumps in this strand test. The raised cuticle will allow colour to readily enter the hair (hence over-absorption and darker results), and then to leak, as it can’t hold the colour within the hair (hence rapid colour fade).

Your hair can also become porous after being stressed and damaged by lightening processes, heated styling tools, or chlorine or sun exposure.

My own hair wilfully obstructs my efforts to do pretty much anything to it, including retaining consistent colour. I rolled the ‘super fine, flat, porous hair’ with a dash of ‘stubborn greys’ dice, which makes achieving a nice, balanced colour and tone a bit trickier.

I have finally established a routine which involves less shampoo, no heat (water or tools) on my hair, a hat collection and ‘less colour, more often’ approach delivers ongoing great colour outcomes, and healthy, shiny hair which I am super happy with.

I am not alone in these challenges, and sharing is caring, so …here’s my top ten tips to avoid and manage colour fade:

  1. Start today! Reducing porosity requires a broad longer game plan – it involves removing environmental factors which can degrade the hair such as hot styling tools, lightening processes and reducing UV exposure. It is not hard, can save you money by using less products, and you will see benefits over time. There isn’t a quick fix, but start today, and your hair will begin to look, feel and perform better in the coming weeks.
  2. Reduce or avoid lightening processes. Repeated or regular lightening will damage your hair and increase porosity. Adjust your colouring process and goals to avoid seperate lightening processes, and enjoy improved hair health.
  3. Avoid heat on your hair. Any direct contact with heat sources such as styling tools and even hot water in the shower will erode your hair health. If you must use hot styling tools, use a thermal heat protection product, and keep it the styling time and process as short as you can.
  4. Hot water can also be as damaging as direct heat. Flick your hair out of direct contact with hot water in the shower, and lower the temperature to lukewarm when you are washing and rinsing your hair. Heat will open up the cuticle, which can lead to colour ‘leakage’.
  5. Slip, slop, slap. It will save your skin and your hair. Wear a broad brimmed hat on sunny days, and take this as an official reason to pick up a new hat or two. Cheap or expensive, if you are happy with your hat options then you will be more likely to wear a hat. You may want to use hair UV protection products too.
  6. Products with SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) and alcohol will build-up and degrade the hair cuticle, leading to increased porosity and increased colour fade.
  7. Water hardness refers to the mineral content of water. Hard water has higher than normal amounts of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Most water in Australia is considered ‘soft’, although South Australian and Western Australia have harder water. Hard water can prevent colour molecules from entering the hair, leading to weaker colour results and longevity. It can be difficult to change or water sources, but just bear in mind that this can contribute to poorer colour results.
  8. Colour processing time – please follow the instructions and let the colour process for the full time according to your colour application instructions in the Colour Kit. If you shorten the colour processing time, there will be insufficient colour absorption and coverage.
  9. Take a mini-shampoo break, just for 24-48 hours after using the Colour Protection Shampoo and Conditioner in our Colour Kits. Our shampoo and conditioner will balance the pH of the hair and help seal your colour.
  10. Inadequate emulsification. Before you rinse your colour, step into the shower, keeping your hair out of the way of direct water. Add just a little water to your hair, the equivalent of a couple of cups of water, and massage the water through your colour, creating a soft lather in the hair. Continue this process for 30-45 seconds, letting the colour emulsify. The emulsification process lets the colour break-up properly, ensuring that the hair has absorbed as much possible, before you finish the rinse, shampoo and conditioner process which will close and seal the hair cuticle.
  11. Colour more frequently. If your colour is fading, we suggest you implement the advice above, but also, sometimes the most obvious is also a very effective solution. We advocate the ‘less colour, more often’ approach to maintaining great colour consistently, particularly when colouring grey regrowth.

If you consistently see darker colour results, you may need to adjust your colour. Talk to our colourists and we can assist in finding a colour which works for you, and provide personalised advice to help improve the health and condition of your hair.

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