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What To Do Before Coloring Porous Hair (Step-By-Step Process)

So recently I went on a bit of a rant about high porosity hair, and what you can do about it.

Your hair’s porosity affects SO much about how you should be treating it. This includes things like coloring porous hair.

One of the things that are most affected by our porosity is dyeing our hair.

How so? Let’s find out.

Wait, What’s Porosity Again?

Your hair’s porosity determines how open or closed the cuticle layer is on the surface of your hair.

It tells us how easily water (or any other substance) will seep into our hair.

It comes in three flavors: low porosity, medium porosity, and high porosity.

If you’re low, then it’s hard for water to get in or out.

If you’re medium, or normal, your hair is working as it should.

If it’s high porosity, then it’s very easy for moisture to get into your hair, but just as easy for it to escape.

Since bleach and dye are liquid chemicals that we add to our hair, our porosity will be the one to decide how much and how quickly we soak up those chemicals.

This really changes how we color our hair, and there are some important things to know, so let’s talk about each type of porosity.


Coloring Porous Hair

High porosity hair can be natural, but it’s usually caused by damage.

Heat or chemical damage can lift and fray your cuticle layer.

coloring porous hair

Your cuticle layer is an important part of the structure of your hair, so hair with high porosity is typically weaker.

This is important to know because coloring your hair, especially if you are also bleaching it, can damage it even further.

Since high porosity hair absorbs liquid very quickly, any color that you add will soak in too easily and will be over-absorbed.

This means that your color will probably turn out darker and duller than you expected.


Prepare Your Hair For Battle

A good knight needs armor, and your hair needs protection before going into battle as well.

By battle, I mean bleach and color. Follow these three steps to get your hair ready for the onslaught.



Most of us use products. Mousse, gel, spray, foam, and pomade are all things that I’ve put in my hair.

The problem is that even after cleansing, bits of that product build-up is left in your hair.

This is especially true if your hair has low porosity.

However, no matter what your porosity is, your hair dye needs a clean surface to stick to.

Using a clarifying shampoo to wash away all of those leftover products is an important first step for a clean, even color.



Ok, so we just washed all of the products out, why are we putting more in?

Well, clarifying shampoos are extremely drying.

They can leave your hair brittle and dry, and if you’re going to get some color, your hair is about to undergo a stress test.

You will want your strands hydrated.

Do a deep condition after washing with the clarifying product to protect against weakening your hair even more and risking breakage.


Skip the product

You just washed it out, don’t put in more before your appointment.

Yes, I’ve heard the old wives tale that dirty hair takes color better. It just isn’t true.

Any colorist worth their salt will tell you that coming in with hair that has little to no product in it provides a clean slate for the application of color.

If possible, wash and condition a day or two before and use minimal or no product to style your hair.


Why Not DIY?

You’ve probably noticed I keep mentioning a coloring appointment.

You may be telling me ‘Hey! Don’t you know? They have home coloring kits. They’re waaay cheaper!’

In response I would give you the noise that I’ve heard every colorist make when you mention ‘box color’: A long, agonized, groan.

You see, the thing about color is it’s pretty complicated.

You might think that if you want purple hair you just put purple in your hair, but that’s not true.

A colorist has to consider the original color of your hair, it’s porosity, curl pattern, thickness, and strength when formulating a color.

So much of a colorist’s work is someone that comes in with a box color went wrong that they now have to fix.

coloring porous hair
Woman having her hair dyed

What About Bleaching Porous Hair?

That’s just the color aspect. Bleach isn’t just hard to work with, it’s dangerous.

You could literally lose all of your hair if you handle bleach improperly.

Wouldn’t you rather get it from someone trained in how to use it? I would.

So unless you’re going for jet black hair, leave the DIY kit on the shelf and support your local salon.


Coloring Normal Porosity Hair

Normal porosity hair is probably the easiest to color.

The color should turn out exactly as the stylist expects with their formulations.

However, coloring your hair can still cause damage even with normal porosity hair, especially over time with repeated processes.


Coloring Low Porosity Hair

Low porosity can also be difficult to color as it’s much harder for the chemicals to penetrate the surface of your hair.

This means that it will be more difficult to achieve your desired color and the person coloring your hair will typically have to leave coloring chemicals in your hair for much longer than other people.

This also brings in a risk factor, as leaving the coloring chemicals in your hair for a long time can cause damage as well.



You might have noticed a common thread. Coloring your hair brings a risk of damage.

Remember that damage can affect your hair’s porosity level.

That can be scary because there really isn’t any good way to change your hair’s porosity.

You just have to wait to grow new hair if you want it to change back to normal.

If you are thinking about coloring porous hair, the things mentioned in this article can help protect your locks before a color.

The whole process would be perfect if your colorist uses Olaplex treatment to strengthen and repair your hair before adding some color to your mane.

Although an Olaplex treatment tends to slow down the whole coloring process, it’s totally worth it.

I hope these tips will have informed and aided you in making a decision about your own hair.

Regardless of porosity, you can have beautiful color, you just need to keep some of this information in mind.

Related Post: How To Highlight Hair At Home Yourself

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