10 Tips for Coloring Natural Hair for the First Time

Ever since I debuted my sassy and sophisticated new hair color two weeks ago, I’ve received tons of questions from people who want to color their hair, but are afraid of damage, breakage, or simply not liking it. Well here are some tips for first-time color newbies, to make your experience go more smoothly. If you decide to go ahead and color your hair, please do send me before and after shots!

One: Find color inspiration


Before you even think about how and when to color your hair, pick out a few color inspirations. Try as much as you can to find someone with similar length and/or texture to your own hair, but the more inspiration you have, the more likely your colorist (we’ll get to that later) can achieve your dream hair color. I’ve had these pictures saved on my phone for ages, so when Creme of Nature asked me what color(s) I wanted, I already had an idea.

Two: Play around with temporary color

Before going all gung ho with permanent color, play with colored extensions, clip ins, spray on colors, rinses, or hair chalk to get yourself used to the idea of different hair colors. This is also a great way to help you figure out which colors might be best for your skin tone! If you have a keen memory, you may notice that I dyed both my Mayvenn wig and KinkyCurlyYaki wig blonde and burgundy, so my hair color shouldn’t have been a surprise 😀

Three: Start small

If you have never had color before, start with a few face framing highlights, or just dye the tips of your hair like Dayna did. Alternatively, you can dye just one strip of hair, maybe even in the back, for a subtle pop of color.

Dayna of ChicNaturalistas.com
Dayna of ChicNaturalistas.com
Four: Research colorists

Please note that I said to research colorists, NOT hairstylists, because they are two different things. Some people possess both skills and qualifications, but many do not. If you have gone to a stylist for years and you have never seen them coloring a client’s hair, they are probably not the best choice. Find a colorist who is well versed in coloring textured hair, and be sure you get proof. Here are a few questions to use to suss out whether a colorist is a go or a no:

  • Does your salon color natural hair? [if yes, proceed]
  • Do you color on wet or dry hair? [if they say wet hair, say thanks and goodbye]
  • Do you use bleach? [if they say they have to use bleach, as one lady tried to tell me, say no actually, you don’t, but thanks. And hang up]
  • Do you use Olaplex? [if yes, book now! Right now! If no, then maybe book. Olaplex helps protect against damage when coloring, especially if you’re going lighter, but is not absolutely mandatory.]

Oh, and lots of people ask me if they can color their hair themselves. I mean, you could. I have never and will likely never color my hair myself. I would much rather have someone to blame/sue in the unlikely event that all my hair falls out. Because if I do it myself and it gets jacked up, I won’t have anyone to direct my anger towards.

But in all honesty, unless you’re a hair wizard, or you only have a little bit of hair and don’t mind shaving it off just in case, you probably shouldn’t color your hair on your own. Especially not the first time.

Five: Go to your appointment with healthy hair

How I Colored and Styled My Kinky Curly Yaki U-Part Wig

A color treatment can weaken your hair strands, so be sure to go to your appointment with the healthiest hair possible. About a month before your appointment, begin babying your hair with serious deep conditions, oil treatments, scalp massages, protective styles, the whole nine. And make sure your hair and ends are moisturized from the inside out.

Immediately before your appointment, do not wash your hair, but try to have minimal product in it. Less product will allow the color to deposit more easily on your strands.

Six: Avoid Heat Styling

You may be tempted like I was last year to color your hair then immediately get it blown out and pressed so you could see the true dimension of your highlights. Resist the urge! I believe the combination of coloring and heat styling is what caused the hole in my head last year.

Seven: Deep Condition

Super Quick Wash Day with Aussie 3 Minute Miracle

Post color, your hair is going to thirst for moisture. Deep condition them strands with one of these picks by one of my color crushes Daphney (pictured above!). Deep conditioning doesn’t have to take hours – you can also opt for a 3 minute option by Aussie.

Eight: Trim Every 8 Weeks

Keep your ends in good health by trimming them every 8 weeks, more often than the recommended 8-12 weeks for non-colored hair. Not sure how to trim your hair? This post shows you how I do it.

Nine: Monitor Your Hair Health

It is important to take notice of any changes your hair may experience after color. Do you find yourself having to remoisturize more frequently? Is your scalp excessively dry? Are your favorite products no longer working? By being mindful of any hair changes, you can nip them in the bud before they become blown out problems. Just keep in mind that some changes – ie. dryness – might be a factor of the weather if you happen to color your hair at the turn of a season like I did.

Ten: Go Back for a Refresh

Unless you want a grown out ombre look, visit your colorist every 3-6 months to refresh your hair color. They will also be able to see if your hair is experiencing any damage, give you a nice professional cut, and style your hair in a way that you might not be able to do yourself! If you got highlights the first time, you can now try a demi-permanent color, more highlights, or all over color. I like to grow my hair out quite a bit because I’

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  1. This is the best article on coloring your hair that I have read. You broke everything down plain,simple and informative. As a newbie, I believe I believe that I can color my own hair. The idea of using hair spray to see what color goes best with my skin tone before jumping the gun of permanent dying my hair is great. I think that I have found a hairstyle that I can KISS(keep it simple sister) and cheap. I will be wearing bun with Marley hair. I dont have to wear my wig so much and I can let my scalp breathe more.