Hair color changes your look, your mood, and even your confidence. But how does it change your hair?

dark brunette, red, and blonde hair side-by-side to show variance in color

Hair color is a phenomenal thing. Some of us love our natural colors. Some love a few strategically placed highlights.

Others, still, love it bold, loud, and daring. Like our clothes and hairstyles, the color of our hair speaks volumes about our personalities. It’s something we can change to fit our mood, match a specific aesthetic, or break away from the crowd. Like getting that perfect outfit or killer haircut, the feelings of confidence and joy that overcome us when we get that perfect color is almost palpable.

But how does color actually affect and change your hair? Does color damage your hair? How can you protect your hair from color damage? Yes, you can protect your hair from damage with Malibu C. Let's break it down.

How does hair color work?

How the hair color actually colors your hair depends on what type of hair color your stylist applies. The types of colors are permanent, demi-permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary. Each of these works in a different manner to apply the color to your locks. 

Permanent Color, as the name suggests, permanently affects your hair and remains in your hair until it grows out. Have you ever seen permanent color in the bowl and wondered why it’s colorless? The color is the result of several reactions that take place when the certain ingredients combine.

Permanent color employs both ammonia (or ammonia substitute) and peroxide. The peroxide, being a strong oxidizing agent, oxidizes compounds to create the dye molecules that actually color the hair.

The high pH of the ammonia opens the cuticles, allowing the small color molecules to enter the hair shaft down to the cortex where the dye affects your natural melanin. 

Demi-Permanent hair color also consists of small color molecules that enter the hair shaft. Unlike permanent color, demi only uses a small amount of peroxide, but no ammonia. Demi-permanent hair color lasts up to 28 washes and can conceal up to 70-percent of gray hair. Because it uses a smaller amount of peroxide, it is not as damaging to your hair.

Semi-Permanent and Temporary hair colors don’t use ammonia or peroxide. The large color molecules don’t enter the hair’s cortex. Instead, they cover the hair’s surface and, in the case of semi-perm, sit just between the cuticles. 

Because the molecules are larger and don’t enter deeply within the hair shaft, semi-perm and temporary colors don’t lighten your hair and often require lighter hair to begin with. If your hair is light brown or darker, you may need to bleach (peroxide) your hair prior to applying. Depending on various factors, semi-permanent hair color can last up to 20 washes, while temporary color washes out after eight or less - often after a single wash. 

How Does Hair Color Damage Your Hair?

Oxidation must occur for permanent and demi-permanent colors. Yes, the same oxidation Malibu C educates about managing in Total Oxidation Management. You won’t receive the long-lasting benefits of permanent color without oxidation. Oxidation causes damage, breakage, and dullness -- it wrecks your hair’s health. This doesn’t mean you can’t receive a permanent color at the salon; if your stylist practices T.O.M., your hair will retain much of its health with minimal damage.

Does Dying Your Hair Too Much Damage It?

Yes. Oxidation causes damage, breakage, and dullness -- it wrecks your hair’s health. This doesn’t mean you can’t receive a permanent color at the salon; if your stylist practices T.O.M., your hair will retain much of its health with minimal damage. A great stylist will tell you what your hair can handle without irreparable damage.

If you skip properly preparing your hair for your chemical color service, a few things might happen: 

  • Smoking or hot foils at the salon
  • Uneven color deposition
  • Quick-fading color
  • Excessive damage
Malibu C Color Prepare packet on palm frondsHow to Use graphic: Shampoo, rinse & pour color prepare crystals across wet palms, rub hands together, adding water to dissolve crystals. Apply an scrunch throughout hair, leave in for 5 minutes. Shampoo & rinse thoroughly.

Can You Stop the Oxidation?

Did you know the oxidizers used on your hair can continue oxidizing for 48 hours? Your stylist should stop oxidation immediately after your service. After all, if you start the car, you need to turn it off, too! Malibu C has several products for stopping oxidation on your hair and skin. We also have numerous professional-use-only products for stopping oxidation at the salon. 

Crystal Gel is our in-salon, professional-use-only product to prevent color disasters! However, Color Prepare is an ideal at-home treatment to use right before your next chemical service. Just a few minutes in the shower and you're ready for your service.


Our original product, the Crystal Gel Treatment, stops oxidation and is ideal for use if you have a small amount leftover from the beginning of the service. No more CG? No problem! Malibu C De-Ox effectively stops oxidation and is shelf-stable for a longer period than CG.


At Malibu C, we can never stress enough how important it is to receive a consultation with your stylist prior to any chemical service. We know what’s hiding in your water, we know you’re exposed to oxidizers every day, we know what medicinal buildup can do to your hair and, most importantly, we know how all these factors can react with additional oxidizers in the salon. Color is no different.

Because this is a process that relies on oxidation and oxidative stress, the consultation allows you and your stylist to have realistic expectations of what your hair can handle. So, whether you’re going from ebony to platinum, or blonde to copper, your consultation is the best guarantee that your hair will remain healthy and vibrant.

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