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Some people go through their entire lives with their hair its natural color. Others may occasionally experiment. Then there are those who have changed their hair color so many times that you can't recall their natural shade. You may wonder if you can color your hair whenever you want or if there are risks if you do it too much, especially with the strong chemicals that are often involved.
Coloring your hair too frequently may cause it to become brittle and increases the risk of split ends. Some products can cause skin irritation and even burns to the scalp. If you do not color it often enough, your roots may show and you may lose your style or luster. Most experts recommend waiting four to eight weeks between dying, but there are several factors that can affect both how long your dye lasts and how much damage it may cause.
Bleach is one of the more damaging chemicals you can put on your hair. That means that if you want to go from black or brunette to blonde, you are at bigger risk than you would be if you were trying to make your pale hair a little darker. It can also make a difference if you are just shifting by one or two hues rather than going for an outright different shade.
Most people grow about half an inch of hair a month. Some people, however, have hair that grows much quicker, which means your dye will grow out sooner. While this does mean you will need to dye more regularly if you want to maintain your color, it also means there is slightly less risk of that dye causing more permanent damage.
As mentioned, bleach is one of the most powerful and damaging products you can use when coloring your hair. It requires a minimum of two weeks between uses, but it is much better to wait the full six weeks to allow more time for recovery. Do not rebleach hair that has already been bleached.
Like bleach, permanent dye removes your natural color from your hair before replacing it with another, which it can do because of the strength of the chemicals (like ammonia) it uses. You should leave permanent dye long enough to grow out completely before you get another dose. This also reduces the risk of your new color mixing with the old one and potentially creating a strange new shade.
Semi-permanent dye is less powerful, often without the ammonia and alcohol that cause the most harm in permanent products. It adds new color without removing your natural tone. Semi-permanent dye will fade naturally after a few washes, meaning it may be safe to redo it much sooner than it would be with permanent dye.
Virgin hair is hair that has not been dyed before or exposed to other potentially damaging treatments. That means it is likely to be in fairly healthy condition before you start and will better be able to take any new chemicals you decide to add. If you have dyed your hair many times before, it may be a good idea to give it time to recover before you color it again. Wait until any brittleness or split ends are gone, even if that means you lose some of your preferred hue. The more damaged your hair, the longer you should go before dying it again.
If you have any doubts about dying your hair, it is always best to go to a professional. They will be able to best assess your current hair health, length and color to judge the most effective way to dye it, along with advising you on how long you should go before seeking a refresh. This is especially true if you have also permed or relaxed your hair. Professionals may also be able to target your color better, such as by touching up your roots rather than having to expose your whole head.
The four-to-six or even four-to-eight-week rule is a good starting point when deciding how often to color your hair, but there is still some flexibility depending on both your own hair type and the kind of product you use. The most important thing when using potentially dangerous chemicals is to give your hair time to recover between uses and to seek guidance from a professional when in doubt.