Why Won’t My Hair Take Color? (12 Surprising Reasons)

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If you’re a fan of regularly switching up your look, then you’ll know the ins-and-outs of using hair dye. However, even the most informed at-home hair colorists can sometimes find themselves with a head of hair that just isn’t working for them. As a result, they’ll likely be asking themselves why their hair color is not taking on the ends.

Why Won’t My Hair Take Color?

There are a number of reasons why your hair color might not be taking on the ends. It could be that your hair is too oily, or you used either the wrong hair dye or developer. Maybe your hair is too porous or you’ve exposed it to too much chlorine or sunlight.

It can therefore be hard to pin down what might be causing your hair color to not be taking on the ends.

But don’t worry, we’ve detailed the most likely reasons below, as well as letting you know how you can be ensuring your locks are as healthy and happy as possible.

How To Make Sure The Ends Of Your Hair Take Color

Thankfully, there are easy steps that you can take in order to keep your hair looking and feeling its best.

By prioritizing your haircare and looking after your locks, you’ll ensure that your hair color is more likely to take to your roots, strands, and ends.

Follow these steps to have colored hair that’s gorgeously shiny and soft:

Get A Trim

The importance of cutting your hair before you color can’t be over-emphasized. The cut will change how your hair strands frame and fall around your face, and you’ll be removing any dry, brittle ends.

Dry, fragile hair ends will more often than not be the reason that your hair color might not be taking, so this is an important step.

Clarify And Condition Your Hair In Advance

Using a clarifying shampoo in advance of coloring helps to remove any build-up or residue in your scalp and strands.

These might impact the color process, so a gentle clarifying shampoo can help with this. Then it’s best to follow up with a conditioning mask to deeply penetrate and hydrate your hair.

Leave it to sit on your scalp and strands for at least thirty minutes so that you’re maximizing your hair’s moisture levels.

Use A Hot Oil Treatment

Alternatively, you can use a hot oil treatment. No matter how you swing it, hair dye is very drying – and if your ends are dry, this might be why your hair color just isn’t taking.

A hot oil treatment will nourish your locks prior to treatment, readying your hair strands to take on any color molecules.

Don’t Over-Wash

We’ll write more on this below, but it’s important not to over-wash your hair before dyeing it.

Having a natural layer of oil is a great way of protecting your scalp from the worst effects of the dye, and will therefore help color take better.

That said, you need to ensure your hair isn’t too greasy either, as excess oil on strands will disrupt the way that dye penetrates.

Use The Right Products

To ensure your hair’s overall health, use sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, and look for products with as few chemicals as possible.

Natural ingredients that are cruelty-free are best. Keeping away from styling tools that use excess heat is a great idea too, so don’t pick up that curling iron too often!

Also Read: Gluten Free Hair Color: Your Best Choices for 2021

12 Reasons Why Your Hair Won’t Color

Why Your Hair Won’t Color

As we’ve already mentioned, there are many reasons why your hair color might not be taking on the ends.

We’ve picked the top twelve in order to help you establish what exactly might be causing your problem.

1. You Didn’t Use Enough Hair Dye

This seems simple to say, but you really do need to be using enough hair dye in order to fully coat your hair roots, shaft, and ends. If you haven’t, you won’t get the color you’re expecting.

However, you also want to avoid using too much color. If you do, you might cause discoloration and patchiness, as well as the color build-up.

You don’t need to dye your whole head every time you need a touch-up: you can just refresh faded ends and roots as needed.

2. You Didn’t Leave Hair Dye In For Long Enough Time

Step away from the sink – just because you can see your hair taking color, that does not mean it’s time to rinse it.

Leave your hair dye in for as long as the packet details you to do so. That allows the developer to do its work and get the hair dye to penetrate your cuticles.

You want to be leaving the dye in for 30 – 45 minutes depending on instructions.

Alternatively, leaving it in for too long will take away the vibrancy of the color, leaving hair looking dull and flat.

If you think you’ve done this, you can use a clarifying shampoo to help bring this color out so that you can start again. Just be aware that you may need to do this several times in order to get hair back to a natural state from which to start again.

3. You’re Not Using The Right Developer

Your developer is as important as the dye and might be the reason why your hair color is not taking on the ends.

There is a golden rule for developers: if you’re lightening your hair, you need a strong volume.

Something between 30 and 50 is good. If you’re going darker, use a developer around volume 10 in strength.

Depending on how many shades you’re planning to lighten or darken your locks, you can gauge what developer you need.

If you are concerned, it’s best to book a trip to the salon, so that a stylist can manage the process.

4. Your Natural Hair Is Too Dark

The base tone of your hair is really important when you’re planning on dyeing it. If you have a dark base color, you can’t immediately use a light dye on top – it just won’t penetrate.

You’ll need to bleach your hair first so that it can take the lighter hair dye – and this can cause serious damage to hair, so it’s best to go into the process eyes-open.

The general rule is you can only lighten (or darken) hair around two shades either way. At-home color kits just don’t have the chemicals that you need to go any lighter or darker.

You’ll need to head to a salon if you want more dramatic changes. Be sure to always do a patch test, too, before using any hair dye.

5. Your Hair Is Too Greasy

Your hair and scalp produce natural oils designed to protect you from the damage of free radicals and environmental pollution.

They also help when you’re dyeing your hair, as the oils create a natural barrier between delicate skin and any chemicals.

Leaving your hair a little greasy before dyeing it can therefore help color take.

However, too much grease and the dye will just slip off your strands and won’t penetrate. It’s all about balance.

Also Read: Does Hair Dye Expire? (Everything You Need To Know)

6. You Recently Bleached Or Dyed Your Hair

If you’ve recently bleached or dyed your hair, the color you’re currently trying to use likely won’t take.

Bleaching is a serious process that can hugely dry out – or even burn – your hair.

If you have brittle, burned, over-processed locks, they won’t take to color, as your hair cuticles are open and the fiber underneath is exposed and frazzled.

You’ll need to use a protein filler or cuticle repairing oils until your hair is ready to take the color again.

Looking after the health of hair’s cuticles is vital for ensuring that color sticks – they need to be lying flat, and if the hair is damaged, they won’t be.

7. You’re A Swimmer

Both chlorine and saltwater are not ideal for the hair. Saltwater reacts with the keratin that makes up your hair’s protein, which may cause lovely beachy waves, but will also likely dry your hair out.

Dry hair is the worst for when you’re trying to get the color to stick.

Chlorine is also incredibly damaging for hair – it can create split ends and lead to frizz, dryness, and dehydration.

As a result, your hair color won’t take to the ends of your locks.

It may not be the most glamorous, but using a swim cap creates a barrier between your strands and the chemicals, thereby reducing its impact.

The sun can also be very damaging for newly dyed hair – so consider using a UV-protectant spray, using a hat, or keeping in the shade when you’ve just colored your locks.

8. You’re Not Using The Right Shampoo And Conditioner

Yep, the products you put in your hair every day inevitably make a difference to whether dye sticks or not.

You need haircare that’s color-enhancing once you’ve dyed hair, so as to preserve the color for as long as possible.

Look for products with minimal chemicals, too, as well as swapping in clarifying shampoos and hydrating conditioners depending on where you are in your dyeing process.

9. You Live In A Hard Water Area

Hard water contains many mineral deposits.

When you wash your hair in it, these will spread over your scalp and strands and may impact how hair dye penetrates.

You can either invest in a water purifier or use a clarifying shampoo regularly in order to minimize the effects of hard water.

Having super-hot showers is also not great for colored hair, as it will cause fading much faster. Go for warm showers and follow with a cool rinse in order to seal your hair cuticles.

10. You’ve Recently Chemically Treated Your Hair

Chemical treatments can be fabulous, but if you avidly dye your hair, it will be difficult to coordinate the two.

Dyeing hair too soon after a perm or relaxing treatment will mean you end up with patchy, uneven color, and very breakable locks. This will especially impact your ends.

If you do want to have both treatments and color your hair, you need to always remember to color first.

11. Your Hair Is Too Porous

Your hair’s porosity will impact whether hair dye will take on your ends. If your hair has low porosity, the dye molecules will struggle to penetrate into the cortex, meaningless pigment is absorbed.

Alternatively, if your hair is too porous, you might end up with excessive damage. It’s about balance.

If you’re concerned, it’s best to book a coloring process at a salon, as your stylist will be best able to gauge how porous – or not – your hair might be, and take the best steps for your hair from there.

Be aware that styling tools that use heat can make your hair more porous, so step away from the flat iron and curling wand.

You can always use a clarifying shampoo in advance of coloring, as this helps balance out hair’s porosity. The dye will therefore spread more evenly over your locks.

12. You’re Over-washing Your Hair

You really don’t need to be washing your hair every day. Your scalp produces oils naturally, and they’re there to maintain balance and protect against infection.

Washing every other day is perfectly acceptable, and will keep your hair from drying out.

As we’ve discussed, dry hair is the worst for when you’re trying to dye your hair. Use a gentle shampoo to cleanse your scalp without stripping moisture.

Remember not to scrub too hard so as not to cause any little nicks or cuts – the ammonia in any dye you use will only make these irritated and you may get an infection.

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