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Colouring fine hair

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

If you have fine and delicate hair you want it to look as good as it possibly can, but at the same time it's pretty fragile so you don't want to do it any damage.

Colouring can be a delicate balancing act for finer hair. There's a big choice in types of hair colour from temporary and semi-permanent, to permanent and bleaching. If you pick a suitable shade and application, colour can add depth and definition to fine hair.

Colour with care

Hair consultant Scott Cornwall says: "In general colouring can work well for fine hair but don't do an all over colour with ammonia or peroxide every single time, it'll cause your hair to go brittle then break off."

He says, "Non ammonia colours are best, and multi-tonal colours work well on fine hair as they play a trick of the light making fine hair look thicker than it actually is."

Marilyn Sherlock is the Chairman of the Institute of Tricologists. Tricology is the scientific study of the hair and scalp.

She advises: "Colouring should be done very carefully and then only retouched at the roots rather than re-colouring the same hair over and over again to stop hair becoming over-processed."

" Colouring fine hair can often be a great way of plumping up the hair strand, leaving you with fuller, bouncier hair than before," says Charlie Lyon, editor of Your Hair magazine.

"However, because the diameter of each individual strand of fine hair is smaller, the amount of colour needed to dye fine hair is less. The dye penetrates the hair shaft a little bit faster too, so you need to be careful if you're after a particular shade or depth to your colour."

His advice, to be sure you're getting the right shade, is to cut a small section of hair from the nape of the neck and do a dye test to check how long you need to keep the dye on for.

Go lighter

If you hair is fine, thin and delicate, you may be better going for a lighter rather than a darker colour.

"Dark colours are very unforgiving on fine and thin hair," says Scott. "If you have jet black hair and it's thin you can see the scalp coming through. It's better to go for a lighter look or a multi-tonal look."

Unfortunately, going from a darker to a lighter shade can sometimes be more damaging as the colouring agent like ammonia or peroxide is stronger, or has to be left for longer to lift.

"Bleach is not a good idea if your hair is very fine," advises Marilyn.

Scott says, "Rather than going for a full head of colour, highlighting or low lighting can create light and shade making fine hair look fuller."

He says it gives depth which can be better than a block colour.

Reviewed on June 13, 2016

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