Lets face it ladies (and gentlemen!) coloring Asian hair can be challenging.
The wrong color process can make our hair look brassy, make our skin look sallow, and can even damage our hair and make it turn an unflattering orange.
Most of us have had a bad experience at the hair salon at least once. And many of us have a hard time articulating what look we want to our colorists.
After talking to some of my dark-haired friends about these hair color woes (and having experienced a terrible color job myself a few years ago) I decided to contact an expert to give us insights on how we can achieve the most flattering hair color results.
I got pro-tips on coloring dark Asian hair from color expert Rex Jimieson, who is a hair colorist and color educator at the premier salon Maxine in Chicago. He has over 20 years of experience and works with a diverse client base. Rex has been featured in Allure magazine and is a former member of the L’Oreal Professionel Technical Team. Needless to say, he is the perfect person to talk with regarding anything to do with hair color!
What you need to know about Asian hair:
R: “The truth is the darker the hair the more underlying red and orange there is. If you want to maintain the integrity of the hair you will not lift it so far from those undertones that you damage it or that you create something that doesn’t go with the base. If you want to lighten the base then it will help because then you can add blonde highlights. But with a darker base you want to stay with those more natural undertones.”
Do Asians have fewer color options?
R: “Darker haired girls do have less options in terms of color. Nevertheless, [Asians] should keep in mind that [their] hair is dark but it is made up of the same fibers as everyone else’s hair. So I don’t want people to be afraid to come in and consult. They probably have more options than they think. With virgin natural hair the sky is the limit.”
Best color processes for Asian hair:
R: “Highlights, balayage and single process are best for Asian hair… If you have naturally dark hair there is a misconception that you have to bleach it and tone it to lighten it. But this is not the case. [Asians can] take advantage of the options that are healthier—lightening hair with color instead of with bleach.”
R: “Those warm tones are [best in the] right amount.
Don’t be afraid of warm tones! We don’t have to look like photographs! That’s what your hair does in the sun. That is nature’s beauty—it is something that should be enhanced.
And you should know, warmth is going to be on trend for spring/summer 2015. People are getting over the ashy smoky look. They are realizing those colors look better in celebrity world versus the real world.”
R: “Texture is really important to consider. The straighter the hair the more blended I want the highlights to be. I think wavier hair can pull off more contrast because it is more separated in wavy hair. In straight hair [high contrast highlights] will look stringy.”
R: “Quantity is really important – in terms of highlights. Brassiness is not a color it’s when you have too many highlights that you get brassy.”
R: “Don’t color your hair before you go to your colorist. If you have color from before—whether its wash-out or old highlights that you covered up—make sure the colorist knows about it!”
R: “Bring pictures. It’s a really good place to start. But don’t expect to get exactly what’s in the picture…When looking at pictures, your colorist should know which hair looks have been ‘filtered’ (i.e. Photoshop and Instagram) and if it is [an] achievable [look] or if it is a piece of art.”
If you want a bolder look:
R: “Don’t be afraid! Limitations [associated with coloring Asian hair] mostly come from your color history and your desired results along with maintenance. If you are willing to do a lot of upkeep and are willing to change your base color then you can go for a more extreme look.”
R: “Use a sulfate free shampoo/conditioner which is also color-locking.
Balayage color processes don’t require much maintenance but you might want to do a glossing treatment after about eight weeks to maintain the look. Otherwise you might end up with [brassiness].
In addition, every 3 to 5 shampoos you should do an at-home mask. My recommendation is the Chronologiste mask by Kerastase. It’s so good. It does everything.”