If you’ve ever had overly porous hair and wanted to get dye your locks, you must have wondered: “Does porous hair hold color?”
The dream is simple for people who love getting their hair colored. It’s to walk into their favorite salon, choose a fun hair color, and sit pretty in the salon chair for a couple of hours. You then walk out with gorgeously colored locks while collecting double-takes from passers-by.
Everyone wants their coloring session to be easy peasy with zero hair malfunctions.
But hair dye veterans know that it’s never that simple.
The harsh reality is there’s a lot riding on your hair health and porosity to ensure your coloring job will even work.
For some people with not-so-healthy hair, it’s not as easy breezy.
So what happens when someone with porous, damaged hair walks into the salon seeking a new hair color?
Does it work out well, or do their dreams for a sleek and stylish hair color get crushed?
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What Is High Porosity Hair?
When your hair is highly porous, it means there are gaps and spaces in your hair cuticle.
High porosity hair can be genetic, but most of the time, it’s due to damage dealt by chemical processes and the excessive use of hot tools to style your hair.
Porous hair is excellent at absorbing moisture because of all the little holes on the hair shaft.
That said, it also releases moisture at lightning speed.
It’s a double-edged sword – your hair will suck up nutrients and chemicals fast, but spit them out in seconds too.
It can’t hold moisture well, which is why high porosity hair has a bad reputation for being overly dry, brittle, frizzy, and rough to the touch.
High porosity hair is considered damaged hair.
It’s roughed up to the point that it has gaps in its natural proteins, making your strands more fragile and brittle.
That’s why porous hair usually needs extra attention when it comes to moisturizing and strengthening.
Protein treatments will be your hair’s best friend to fortify your hair structure and fill in the gaps in your cuticles, while conditioning properly will give it back its shine and softness.
Unfortunately, because high porosity hair is weak and damaged, it affects how your coloring job can go.
And I’ll be honest with you – it’s not always pretty.
What Happens When You Try To Color Porous Hair?
Moisture isn’t the only thing porous hair absorbs easily.
It goes for most chemicals as well, including hair dye.
Porous hair absorbs pigments from your hair dye super quickly because of the gaps in your cuticles.
That makes it easy for the dye to penetrate your hair cortex, staining your hair.
Getting dye into your porous hair is the easy part because your hair strands are already good at that.
That’s why dark, low porosity hair is often lightened before it’s colored.
The bleaching process will lift the cuticles, increasing the hair’s porosity so pigment can easily enter.
Does Porous Hair Hold Color?
While getting the dye into porous hair seems pretty effortless, it’s how your hair reacts afterward that causes trouble.
In some cases, high porosity hair will absorb the dye too fast in certain sections of hair.
This can leave you with an uneven color that looks patchy and unnatural.
This is because some parts of your hair might be releasing the pigment, which we’ve established is quite natural for porous hair to do.
That’s why dye should only be left in high porosity hair for a shorter amount of time.
It gives your hair a higher chance of maintaining an even, uniform distribution of color.
But remember: high porosity hair’s curse is that while it can absorb products quickly into the hair shaft, it has equal chances of releasing it just as fast.
So while some people with high porosity hair may be lucky enough to hold dye in their strands, others aren’t as blessed.
When your high porosity hair results from intense damage and abuse from heat styling and chemical processing, your hair might not be healthy enough to hold color at all.
These harsh treatments can break down the proteins that keep the hair strong, resilient, and able to retain moisture and pigments.
The more your hair strands are abused, the more gaps and holes are developed in your cuticle, leaving it vulnerable and fragile.
And since your cuticle is so exposed and is wide open, it can’t trap anything inside – including color.
So there’s a high chance that porous hair won’t even stain after a dye job.
If this happens, it means that while dye did enter your cuticle, your hair released the pigment right away before it even penetrated the cortex to stain it.
When that happens, you might not notice any change in your hair color.
This usually happens when your hair is excessively processed.
For instance, when you bleach it twice in a row, you can end up with damaged hair.
Straightening your hair on a high heat level every day without fail can also lead to damage.
It opens up your cuticle too wide, rendering your coloring useless.
How Do You Prime Porous Hair Prior To Coloring?
Luckily, you can take steps as a precautionary measure to prepare your high porosity hair for a coloring job.
This is called priming, and it gives your cuticles a higher chance of absorbing and retaining hair dye.
Trim your hair
One of the easiest things you can do to prep your hair before your coloring appointment at the salon is to get a trim.
You can ask your stylist to cut off the driest, most damaged parts of your hair.
These ends tend to be the most porous, so getting them chopped off gives you a better chance of obtaining that rich, even color throughout your hair.
And while you’re already at the salon, you can also consult with your colorist to ask them what you can do to care for your hair before your dye job.
They will assess your hair condition and let you know how you can improve your chances of coloring your hair successfully.
They can suggest not shampooing a day or two before your coloring appointment or deep conditioning right before you come in.
Clarify your hair
Prior to your appointment, you can also do a few things at home to make sure your porous hair is all set for coloring.
First, you want to make sure there isn’t any product build-up in your hair when you go to the salon.
Dyeing super dirty and clogged-up hair can also lead to a patchy distribution of color.
Use a clarifying shampoo the day before your appointment.
This chelates your hair and eliminates any stubborn mineral deposits or oils built up in your scalp and strands from your styling products.
After that, refrain from using thick creams and serums until coloring day.
Strengthen and moisturize your hair
It’s also essential to strengthen and moisturize your hair before your appointment.
It’s a way of doing damage control on your porous, brittle hair.
This also helps when it comes to retaining the pigment in your hair strands without releasing them so quickly.
In the days leading up to your coloring appointment, you can treat your hair to intensive deep conditioners.
You can also use some protein treatment to fill in the gaps in your hair and fortify those strands before they head to battle.
This extra work also helps your hair from incurring even more damage, which you can’t avoid when you do any chemical process to your hair, like dyeing it.
The stronger and healthier your hair is, the more processing it can take without being utterly obliterated.
It also gives your hair strands a fighting chance of holding color better.
Maintaining That Vibrant Color In Your Porous Hair
High porosity hair is also prone to quick color fading.
So even if you successfully dye your hair the color you want, you need to double down on efforts to keep your hair vibrant for as long as possible.
Switch to a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo that won’t strip your hair of your new color and natural moisture in your scalp.
You should also use a toning shampoo to maintain your new color.
Purple shampoo is best for blondes and silver foxes, while brunettes will love blue shampoo.
You should also moisturize your hair sufficiently with nourishing stylers or luxurious finishing oils.
Avoiding heat styling (or at least protecting your hair with a heat protectant) will also help your cause.
Doing all these will increase the longevity of your hair color and nurse your high porosity hair back to health after your tedious bleaching and coloring process.
Coloring your hair is already a very tedious process, whether you’re doing it by yourself at home or with the help of a professional.
But when you have high porosity hair, it’s an even bigger issue.
You’ve just got to get used to the reality that sometimes you’ll see some patchiness in your color.
At other times, your hair might not even hold the dye at all.
A lot of care and prep goes into actually dyeing high porosity hair successfully.
Repairing and pampering your porous (probably damaged) hair is the key to achieving gorgeous locks in the color you’ve always envisioned.
As long as you can commit to nursing your health back to health before you set up your coloring appointment, you’ll have a better chance of getting your dream hair color.
In no time, you’ll be flaunting your lovely locks with pride as you strut down the street.