The Fool-Proof Guide to Dyeing Curly Hair Without Damage

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Do you want to level up your hair game by dyeing your curly hair?

We know your locks are already beautiful as is, but, we also know that sometimes, you want to experiment with different cuts, styles, and colors. 

beautiful green-colored hair African American wearing orange sunglasses and earrings

So, what’s stopping you?

Maybe you’re afraid of trying something new when it comes to your locks. After all, you’ve always treated them with special care to maintain their healthy bounce.

Or, maybe you’ve heard that hair color can ruin your curls.

Keep reading to find out if dyeing curly hair can be a fun and exciting change, or if it will turn out to be your biggest regret.

Can I Dye My Naturally Curly Hair Without Damaging It?

Just like any other hair type, you can dye naturally curly hair.

However, textured hair like waves and curls is a drier hair type, so you have to be more careful in coloring them.

That’s why we’ve included everything you actually need to know about how to dye curly hair without damage.

Can Hair Dye Change My Curl Pattern?

Salon experts have reported that it’s possible for coloring to cause curl pattern changes. They’ve noticed that the colored strands have looser curls.

Sometimes, the change is temporary. After some time and deep conditioning, your hair’s bounce will go back to normal.

But, other times, the damage can be permanent. Conditioners and treatments can’t restore relaxed curls.

Unfortunately, the only thing left to do is cut the damaged hair and wait for it to grow out.

How does hair dye loosen your curls? Let’s get all sciencey and look at the factors.

Hair Porosity

Hair porosity is the ability of your hair to absorb and hold moisture, and each hair type has a different level of porosity.

Curly hair is more porous because the cuticles lay loosely on the hair shaft. That means, there’s a lot of space for moisture to easily get in and out.

Because of this, chemicals from hair dye can be absorbed easily. This in turn dries your hair cuticles and causes the curls to loosen.

Hair Elasticity

Hair elasticity is the ability of your hair to stretch and go back to its original shape without breaking. The stronger and healthier your hair, the higher its elasticity.

Hair dyes with strong formulas can weaken the elasticity of your hair. This can result in weak and loose curls.

Tips for Coloring Curly Hair Safely

Now that you know how hair dye can damage your curls, the next step is learning how to avoid it.

Here are some effective dyeing curly hair tips.

1. Keep your curls healthy.

Curls must be healthy before undergoing a coloring process.

The Curly Girl Method explains that if your hair is healthy and hydrated, there’s not much preparation needed before coloring.

That’s because your healthy hair already has a fighting chance against damaging chemicals.

2. Don’t wash your hair right before coloring it.

Yes, go dirty.

Well, no. Get rid of the dirt, but keep the natural oils.

How? Do this by washing your hair 24 hours before coloring it. This will keep your hair clean but give your scalp time to replenish the hair’s natural oils.

The extra oils in your hair will act as a shield when you color. They can help prevent scalp irritation and lessen the drying effects of hair dye.

3. Use a semi-permanent hair dye.

Some people think that they need to use strong coloring products for their locks to make it process easier. But, it’s actually the opposite.

Using high volume developers and harsh lighteners like bleach can cause the hair to break.

Instead, use semi-permanent hair dye or temporary color when coloring your bouncy curls. They’re ammonia free and have more gentle ingredients.

These products will cause less damage and will not break down the hair cuticles.

4. Don’t go too dark or too light.

When choosing the hair color, take note of the color application process.

If you’re planning on dyeing curly hair at home, make sure that your desired color is only 1 shade lighter or up to 2 shades darker than your natural hair color.

On the other hand, if you want a more drastic change in color, go to a professional hairstylist.

5. Go for gradual lightening.

Let’s say you’re dyeing curly hair blonde. If you decided to lighten your hair, it must be done in several, gradual steps.

Good hair stylists will be honest with you and tell you that they can’t make you blonde in one sitting. They know that your hair needs to recover before it undergoes another process.

In fact, your colorist will even tell you that if you want to keep your vibrant curls, you should stay away from extremely light colors.

6. Do a strand test.

Keep in mind that hair dye results depend on hair’s starting color, texture, and condition. 

So, what’s shown in the box dye package will not look the same as your hair color outcome.

To safely get the best results when you dye curly hair at home, apply the product to a few strands at the back of your hair first.

Observe how long you need to wait until you get the color you want and how your curls feel after you remove the color. You’ll want to make sure they still feel healthy.

If you like how it ended up, continue with dyeing the rest of your hair. However, if it’s not good, then you’re lucky you only used it on a few strands that you can hide.

7. Watch the clock.

When dyeing curly hair at home, follow the instructions religiously. Don’t leave the hair dye on your hair for too long.

Overprocessing the hair can cause extreme damage and dryness.

set of different colors of dyed hair extension samples

What Color Looks Good on Curly Hair?

Isn’t it nice to know that you can dye your curly hair without compromising its health? I’m pretty sure you’re dyeing to dye your hair right now.

So, let us help you choose the perfect color for your curls.

Some stylists’ favorite shades are the ones that grow out the best and last the longest:

Dyeing curly hair red or copper is also great. These shades make the hair appear vibrant and healthier. Plus, this color suits all skin tones.

Another one you can try is dyeing curly hair black. We know a lot of us already have naturally black hair, but what about jet black? This color will certainly give you an edgy look.

If you want to get creative, you can also experiment with crazy, unnatural colors. Just make sure to let the professionals do this for your hair’s safety.

Furthermore, to enhance your curl pattern, you can also add in a few highlights.

Highlights for curls

If you don’t want to commit to full color, you can always opt for a highlight. Besides, highlights can even be better because they add definition and dimension to your hair.

There are different types of highlights:

  • Balayage
  • Ombre
  • Babylights
  • Flamboyage
  • Pintura Technique

Which one is the best for your curls?

Pintura Technique

This technique is created specifically for curly hair.

The Spanish word pintura means paint. And, as the name suggests, the color is painted directly into the curls to highlight their natural shape.

This method gives the curls contrast, so you see the curl patterns stand out.

Can curly girls go blonde?

If you can dream it, you can be it. Your blonde dreams are not impossible just because you have curly hair.

Dyeing curly hair blonde is achievable, but it will take time, effort, and even money.

The lightening process must be done by a professional and in progressive steps. Gradual lightening of your curly hair can minimize the damage.

Aside from the multiple visits to the salon, blonde curly hair also requires lots of care like toning and deep conditioning.

woman showing the rear view of her long dyed curly hair

Aftercare for color-treated curly hair

Aftercare for naturally curly hair is really important to make sure that the hair’s elasticity recovers. We’ve listed down helpful reminders for taking care of your curly hair after dyeing it.

1. Wait for 2 to 3 days before washing your hair.

Let the cuticle layers fully close and trap the hair color. This can help the color to last long.

2. Use hydrating and strengthening shampoo and conditioner.

Regular shampoo won’t do for your curly hair care. Choose sulfate-free products for color to stay rich and vibrant.

Here are the products that we recommend:

Pravana The Perfect Blonde
Editor’s Choice
  • Purple toning shampoo and conditioner
  • Sulfate-free
  • Perfect for blonde curly hair
Maui Moisture Curl Quench + Coconut Oil
Budget Pick
  • De-frizzes and defines curls
  • Enhances softness and body
  • Vegan formula
Biolage Color Last
Premium Pick
  • Protects and maintains vibrant color
  • Hydrating
  • Good for all hair types

3. Have regular hair treatments.

Deep conditioning and hydration treatments are keys to maintaining healthy and bouncy curls. Luckily, you can do them in the comfort of your own home.

Condition color-treated hair with these products:

Olaplex Hair Perfector No.3
Editor’s Choice
  • Cruelty-free and paraben-free
  • Repairs and strengthens hair
  • For all hair types
Pantene Gold Series Leave-on Detangling Milk
Budget Pick
  • Detangles and softens curls
  • Enriched with Argan oil
  • For curly and textured hair
Davines Love Curl Conditioner
Premium Pick
  • Enhances and controls curly hair
  • Weightless volume and softness
  • Enriched with vitamin B5

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you add color to already damaged hair?

Adding more chemicals will worsen your curly hair’s damage. In the end, your curls might get too relaxed, and be straight and dry.

Will dyeing curly hair damage it?

Dyeing curly hair can be damaging. As I’ve said, curly hair is more porous, so it absorbs chemicals quickly. That means, it is more prone to dryness and damage.

If you don’t dye your hair carefully, this can ruin your curls.

What to do before dyeing curly hair?

Before dyeing curly hair, make sure that your hair is healthy enough to deal with harmful chemicals. If not, wait a few more weeks while working on nourishing your hair.

Does dyeing curly hair make it straight?

Dyeing curly hair doesn’t make it straight. However, it may loosen the curl or change the curl pattern.

Don’t Be Afraid of Dyeing Your Curly Hair

Let yourself (and your hair) have fun. Bear in mind that your hair is safe from damage if you take good care of it.

Make sure to use the correct products to protect your curls from being ruined.

While bleach and other strong colors can give you faster color change, they are harmful to the hair. Use milder products and take hair coloring slowly.

Follow our tips and professional’s directions to save your hair from color damage.

Lastly, take care of your colored curly hair with nourishing and restoring products to keep your bouncy curls!

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  • Rachelle Velasco

    Rachelle, is a sought-after freelance hair and makeup artist, shines particularly in the world of hair color. From subtle ombres and balayages to vibrant hues and intricate root work, she crafts unique styles tailored to individual preferences. Beyond her artistic talents, Rachelle also holds a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, showcasing her diverse skill set and dedication to learning.

  • Madeline Hall

    With ten years in hairstyling, Madeline Hall has trained with elite colorists Naomi Knight and Lupe Voss and assisted celebrity stylist Alex Chases. From building a solid clientele at San Francisco's Code Salon to impressing Nashville's finest, Madeline is a force in the industry. Passionate about educating clients and staying updated on trends.

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