What you NEED to know before colouring your natural hair

11 September 2018 - 13:01 By Nokubonga Thusi
Nandi Madida isn't afraid to experiment with her hair colour. She sported a short blonde and pink crop while hosting Afro Punk in New York.
Nandi Madida isn't afraid to experiment with her hair colour. She sported a short blonde and pink crop while hosting Afro Punk in New York.
Image: Nandi Madida/Instagram

In the past colouring Afro-textured hair was taboo as it resulted in brittleness, irritation, and breakage in most cases. But the reality is any ethnicity or hair type can use hair dyes, so there's no need to shy away from trending colours like light browns, blush pinks and shades of blue.

The trick is to have an expert colourist assess the state of your hair. They’ll know how to gradually lift the pigment of the hair with bleach, whether it’s natural virgin or relaxed hair.

Afro-textured hair is prone to dryness, as the cuticle covering every bend of the curl is exposed, and unable to retain much moisture. Dyes dry out hair and make the hair porous for the colour to penetrate the hair strand. To ensure the health of your hair and combat breakage, intense conditioning at least once a week is important.

Relaxed hair is most volatile when colouring, as it is already chemically processed, and, therefore, weaker. Consider a temporary dye or product that does not require a lifting agent (bleach). Wait at least two weeks after relaxing before professionally applying any colour to the hair. 


Frika stylist Jimmy Shibambu told the Sowetan that afros work really well in colours of ruby red, chestnut blonde, light brown and auburn. If you're opting for a super short look, he suggest you pick a bright blonde hue.

Blonde tends to be the hardest hair colour to maintain

"Blonde always becomes more popular when summer comes, year in, year out," agrees Schwarzkopf International global colour ambassador Lesley Jennison.

Whether you enjoy a hint of blonde on the ends, dabble in ginger-blonde hues, or go the full platinum-blonde monty — blonde tends to be the hardest hair colour to maintain. To keep your blonde locks looking vibrant, use silver or purple shampoos that are sulphate-free to keep any brassy blonde tones at bay.


Not ready to commit completely? From coloured hair chalk to hair-dye sprays, there are many products that allow you to still enjoy having any colour hair you wish with the luxury of washing it out in a few days. 

The sorbet or unicorn trend has seen the rise of colour pigments such as purple, lilac, violet blue, champagne pink, and rose-gold peach, which can be sprayed onto pre-lightened hair. Depending on how much or how little you spray, you can go from the palest, almost cotton-candy shade or get more of a bubble-gum hue.

If you are planning to sport protective styles, such as braids, try adding some coloured extensions in these shades to create a vibrant style without the fuss of bleaches or colour applications.

This article is adapted from one originally published in SMag, a lifestyle magazine included in the Sowetan newspaper. Visit SMag online for more great reads.