As natural hair is on the rise, experimenting with colours is a great way to accentuate what you’re proud of. John Frieda Salons creative director and colour and trend expert Zoe Irwin talks us through the trends we’ll see emerging soon, and how to nail that colour perfectly.
When we look at the most covetable new hair colour trends, they’re largely directed towards those with straight or Caucasian strands. Even the surge in balayage a few years ago didn’t translate properly over to afro and curly textures, with many of us leaving salons with damaged, brassy ends that didn’t blend into our roots properly.
Now, more consideration is being taken into treating textured hair as a separate entity in itself, rather than just applying the same care and techniques used for straight hair. For the first time ever, relaxer sales have dropped, and more and more women are wearing their hair in its natural form, making us more emboldened to embrace different colours to accentuate our texture and explore options we’ve always thought wouldn’t work for us.
“Vivid and bright colours in the last decade have risen globally for all hair types, but I’m seeing the most dramatic increase in textured hair,” says Zoe Irwin, creative director at John Frieda Salons. “Colour lasts exceptionally well because the hair isn’t being washed every day, and certain colours pop beautifully against medium to deep skin tones.”
It’s the same story for more muted tones, too. “The balayage has been reinvented for curls and afros, paying attention to how the hair falls naturally and then painting it accordingly,” explains Irwin. “Dip-dyed ends are coming back, which really play with the natural texture.”
The way toner is used is also changing. Before, the iciest purple toners were used to cancel out brassiness in bleached textured hair. Now, though, the warmer hues that emerge post-peroxide are being played with and celebrated – and these flatter warm skin tones in particular. Washes of colour are giving a brightening sunlit vibe to hair, like rich light brown hues inspired by autumn leaves and sunlight.
Scroll on for the hues and colour placements that are bringing natural hair out in all its crowning glory, and learn how to ensure you don’t leave your next colour appointment disappointed.
Rich caramel tones
Warm russet tones richly accentuate deeper skin complexions.
Keep the caramel tones on the tips to maintain the health of your roots and lengths.
A haze of autumnal colours brings an extra dimension to this brushed-out ‘fro.
“Softly lightened caramel hair brings out tones in warmer complexions,” says Irwin. “Experiment with ends and individual curls that are softly blended into the roots, or do all-over colour with a slightly darker root.”
“I really love rose tones on textured hair, especially when the ends gradually turn paler,” says Irwin. “I saw so many peach, apricot, and pink hues blended together while trend-spotting in New York recently; these will definitely come across to London next year and influence how we use colour.”
Multiple shades adds dimension and definition. Keep the lightest at the tips to help your face stand out in the middle.
Colour doesn’t have to be permanent - experiment with glazes, glosses and hair paints or waxes if you don’t want to commit.
For days when you feel like being extra in colour and volume, pop on a bold wig.
The way these sage and sea-like tones are applied to hair can vary, but Irwin favours a multi-toned approach. “If hair is bleached all over, then pastel hues are applied in cloud-like patterns, it gives a really beautiful visual effect.”
Serene sea-hued hair offsets against deep skin really beautifully.
Add a hint of grey to your green for a more muted approach.
How to get what you want from your hair appointment
Walking into just any salon and expecting to get a result exactly how you envisioned is very unlikely - especially if you have afro or curly hair. 0.85% of Habia-registered (government-approved) UK salons cater to afro hair, and about 3% of the UK’s population is black, so the chances of lucking out are pretty low.
With that being said, a consultation prior to your colour appointment comes highly recommended from Irwin. “Make sure your chosen stylist has booked out enough time, and you’ve both talked through your ideas extensively,” she advises. “Collect pictures on your phone of things you love - it doesn’t just have to be hair - and save these in “Albums” so they are easy to locate on your phone, ensuring your valuable salon time isn’t wasted.”
How to care for coloured afro and curly hair
It’s all about the before and the after. As textured hair naturally lacks moisture (the structure of the curl means oil produced by the scalp has a harder time moving down to the ends), it needs to be in prime condition before colouring to avoid breakage and damage to the curl pattern.
“Pre-treat your hair to prep it a few weeks before your appointment, alternating between protein and moisturising deep treatments to ensure hair is both strong and hydrated,” says Irwin. “It’ll make a huge difference to not only the quality of your hair, but the end colour result, which depends on the porosity and hydration level of your hair. The better the condition, the more luminous the result.”
As well as at-home treatments, in-salon versions tend to be stronger and more effective. “I cannot recommend a ‘plex’ treatment before and during your colour appointment: Wella Plex and Olaplex give amazing results,” advises Irwin. “Take a bottle home too; using it whenever you wash your hair will make the colour last for much longer and stop it from breaking or drying out as it becomes accustomed to its new state.”
And how should we be masking? As it turns out, leaving it in for as long as possible isn’t always the answer. “When your hair really needs it, do what I call a “super treatment”: apply the mask, leave for 15 minutes, rinse, then repeat one or two more times. It sounds like a waste, but you’ll thank me for it - your hair can only take in so much at one time, so it’s best to clear the canvas and do it multiple times to get a more effective end result.”
The best products for restoring coloured afro hair
Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Extreme
This denser, richer version of the cult hair mask is specially formulated for afro hair. Used before every wash until your hair doesn’t need it anymore, it adds serious strength back to strands.
“Dizziak is super important for hydration,” says Irwin. “I favour both the shampoo and conditioner on my clients.”
Olaplex No.3 Treatment
The final step to whatever magic Olaplex works on your hair in-salon, this little bottle does a lot. Use on damp hair pre-shampoo to literally repair damaged bonds from colouring. It’s a lifesaver in a bottle.
Main image: Wella UK