Ijeoma Kola smiling in white dress with colored hair

Tips for Coloring Your Natural Hair for the First Time

I’ve shared a variety of tips for coloring natural hair in the past, but I’ve never actually shared advice for those who are interested in coloring their natural hair for the first time. That’s because by the time I started blogging, I already had color in my hair, and already thought of myself as somewhat of a colored natural hair pro. But after spending the past 2.5 years growing out my previous hair color, I essentially started from scratch and colored my virgin natural hair, so decided to share some tips for coloring your natural hair for the first time!

Wait Until the Right Time

As tempting as it might be to color your hair just because you’ve seen an amazing hair color that you want to copy, you want to make sure that your hair is in the healthiest possible state before coloring, and that you’ve completely mastered your haircare regimen (or have a great relationship with a stylist who does your hair regularly!). Although I had been itching to color my hair for months, I wanted to wait until it had bounced back from the normal postpartum shedding I experienced, to make sure that I was starting with as healthy of a head of hair as possible. I highly recommend you do that same!

Do Your Research

I don’t mean research the color you want, I mean research the person who’s going to do your color! Note that I said the person who will color your hair and not the box hair dye you’re going to use to color it yourself. If you’re coloring your natural hair for the first time, PLEASE don’t use a box of hair dye at home by yourself! Research an experienced colorist who is trained in both hair color and natural hair care. Check photos of their work on Instagram, but also stalk their clients to see the health of their hair post color! It’s not a good sign if someone gets their hair colored and a month or two later, chops it all off (unless that’s what you’re planning on doing too). Feel free to ask your potential colorist what specific training they have with color, what brand of hair colors they use, and how comfortable they are with natural hair.

Have a Consultation

An in-person consultation, where your colorist examines your hair strands and talks through the color they think your hair is ready for, is absolutely mandatory for first-time hair color, and a great opportunity to ask all the questions listed above. If your potential colorist does not offer consultations as a standard requirement before a color appointment, they’re not the one for you! During the consultation, you also want to pay attention to how a stylist interacts with your hair — do they check the porosity? Do they take a close look at your scalp? Do they ask you about your hair care routine? These are all good indications that a colorist is not only interested in executing a specific color, but is also passionate about healthy hair.

Start Subtly and Go Bolder Over Time

If you watched my recent hair color video with a keen eye, you might have noticed that I was taken aback when I first saw my hair after the phase 1 highlights. That’s because I hadn’t seen that bright of color in my hair for years! If you’re coloring your hair for the first time, ease into things by starting with something subtle, maybe light brown highlights or a very gradual copper ombre color on your ends. Once you’ve gotten the hang of your new colored hair, you can always go back and get more or lighter colors! You don’t want a situation where you go from 1b black hair to 10n blond and no longer recognize yourself in the mirror.

Bring Photos. Tons of Them!

Last, but not least, come to your consultation and hair color appointment with as many photos as possible! Hair color names can mean totally different things to different people, so saying you want blond highlights can leave you with slight brown tones in one colorist’s chair and bright platinum streaks in another. Pictures of colors you like, as well as ones you don’t like, are the easiest way for you to communicate to your colorist what your hair color goals are. There are so many hair color techniques — lowlights, highlights, balayage, etc — that by showing photos of what you’re looking for instead of trying to describe it yourself, you’ll be able to achieve the hair color of your dreams.

Is coloring natural hair for the first time in your plans? I hope these tips have been helpful as you prepare your trip to your salon consultation!

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  1. I always loved color. Right now, I am getting my hair stronger, healthier and longer to incorporate color back in it. It is on my list to have my hair colored again.