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I Colored My Hair More Than Ever in 2021—Here’s What I Learned for Next Time

Being in lockdown was a double-edged sword for everyone’s strands. We were stuck with brassy highlights and awkward lengths, but also, we had hair that wasn’t affected by daily use of hot tools and frequent color touchups. By the time I was finally able to book my first color appointment, my hair was an oh-so-delightful combination of faded orange and yellow. But while the color was questionable, my hair looked healthy. And there was never a question of why I won’t color my hair. If anything, I couldn’t wait.

Getting to a Good Place

For as long as my current friends have known me (heck, for as long as I’ve known myself), I’ve never been associated with “good hair.” Be it color, cut, style, whatever—hair was never my thing. When we embarked into 2021, for the first time in my life, my hair became something I was proud of. Because I no longer spent half my days in the car, I had a lot more time and energy to devote to trying new hair products that were sent to me for review. I practiced scalp care before it became huge. I had the right shampoos, conditioners and masks for my hair. I was finally learning how to take care of it the way I was supposed to all along.

It was long and luscious. It wasn’t frizzy—and with the right flat iron, I could make it stick, silky straight. I also finally cracked the code on how to curl my hair like a pro, and everything was falling into place.

But like most people, as salons reopened and appointments became more readily available, I couldn’t wait to get into some colorful fun. During my first trip back to the salon, I opted for my regular burgundy peek-a-boo highlights that I’d been wearing for some time. That was a classic favorite of mine. My hair continued to appear on the healthy side and I didn’t see any reason for concern.

Where Things Took a Turn…

But it was my next appointment and on that the change occurred. With so many straight years of the red color, I finally wanted to add some blonde to change things up. We opted for some bleached areas, and slowly but surely, my hair health began to decline. I could still put it up and style it, but looking at photos, you can see where things began to go awry.

My strands became dry and brittle, and it wasn’t something that could be saved with a little help from some hair oil. I actually didn’t realize the depths of the damage until I attended an intimate hair event back in October. The hairstylist hosting the shindig offered me a complimentary blowout, and as she was styling my strands, she pointed out that huge chunks of my hair in front were disconnected from the other front parts. I didn’t even know what that meant at first, but after she further explained, I couldn’t unsee it. There were literal chunks that didn’t blend at all with the rest because parts had been burnt off from chemicals. I was shocked.

Despite the awkward shaping, I was still able to curl my hair as usual and make the weird parts seem to appear blended with the rest. But eventually I knew I needed a professional’s help. After putting off a haircut for months, I finally plopped down in my hairstylist’s chair. I showed him the issue and even he had no way of repairing it. We did some trimming, and the first month after was rough. My hair felt like it was in one of those weird growing-out phases after a really short chop. But it was really just him trying to blend the awkward pieces in with the rest of my hair. It was really hard to style, and those beautifully uniformed curls I once knew and loved were a thing of the past.

Getting Back on Track and Moving Forward

I thought I had all the hair products I could ever possibly need, but when a rep from Function of Beauty offered to send me their new customizable curly hair collection, I said fine. To be honest, I have so much stuff that I expected to bury the set in my massive beauty closet. But after my hair trim, I was in a dire state and was willing to try anything. I figured I would give the FOB set a go. My set was designed for curly hair, and I could add pods to each product to help with a few hair needs. Bottom line: I began to see improvement right away.

Since the outcome of my hair at the end of 2021, I’ve determined why I won’t color my hair again for a while. Or at least not by way of chemicals at a salon. What I’ve realized is in 2022 is we have so many options to keeping our hair healthy. And there are also so many ways to apply color.

While I have no regrets, if I could do it all over again, I would simply tone my hair as light as possible without actually bleaching it. The bleach will do a number on anyone‘s hair—even on a thick, strong, mighty mane like mine. What we have to remember is the dyed color will always eventually revert back to the toned color, so we can keep applying temporary color if we want instead of bleaching it over and over and recoloring.

We’re also living in the age of color depositing everything. We have endless masks and shampoos that will let us (gently) color our strands temporarily, or rather even revive the dyed pieces. Bottom line: Unless it’s an absolute must that you bleach your hair, avoid it if you can. This is not to say I’ll never have my hair colored professionally again. It’s just to say I’ll be more mindful.

Going back to what I said above about Function of Beauty—finding a haircare system that truly works for your hair changes everything, too. Not only do I feel my hair repairing, but because the system actually makes my natural curls look good, it’s less heat I have to use on the reg. I can now leave my hair be to grow and recover. While nowhere near where it was at the start of ’21, I am confident I can get back to where I want to be by the end of ’22.

Can damaged hair really be nursed back to health, or only masked by healthy products? Find out HERE!

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