Skip to Content
This is main content
Balayage

Brighten Up Curly Hair with Curlights
By Toni Garcia-Jackson, Product Club Educator (@tonigarciajacksonhair)

In the past, the process of coloring textured hair often made hair stylists fret and clients fearful of the outcome. It hasn’t been that long since relaxer services dominated salon menus in the textured hair market. The active ingredient in hair relaxers, sodium hydroxide, does not like to play nice with high volume hair color and lightener. Well, Fuhgeddaboudit! As time went on, a decline in hair relaxing gave way to the natural hair movement. Everywhere, women of color began embracing their natural, curly hair. While this created a shifting environment for stylists who focused on relaxing services, the shift catapulted into a new and expanded color category in salons that catered to curly girls.

Tips for Creating Perfect Color and Highlights on Curly Hair

So what are the rules of curly hair engagement? Check out these crucial tips to ensure that coloring your curly haired clients won’t “spiral” out of control.

1. Consult, Consult, Consult!

A client consultation is an important step in ensuring that the client has the best experience and gets their desired result. Consultations reveal so much information that can help you to manage client expectations. This is an opportunity to find out about the challenges and concerns they have with their hair and daily routine and it also allows you to instruct them on how to maintain a new look.

2. Know Your Client’s Curl Type

Each curl type has its own curly hair characteristics that make it unique. The curl chart ranges from a level 1 (which is devoid of any curl) to a level 4 and includes “A-B-C” levels in between. Identifying your client’s curl type will help you formulate your color while taking the needs of the curl type you are working with, into consideration. As a general rule (but not an absolute) -  the higher the curl type the more resistant the hair will be.

curly hair types

3. Color The Hair While Protecting the Curl Pattern

Like most types of hair, curly hair can be fine, medium and coarse. We know that the finer the hair, the quicker the color and lightener will process. As a result, it is very important to identify the texture of the curly hair you are working with. Since the cuticle layers of curly hair have a tendency to be open at every twist and turn, choosing the correct developer is crucial. First, assume curly hair will process quicker than straight and wavy hair. Secondly, when comparing curly hair types to other curly/coily types, curly patterns will inevitably process faster. On the contrary, zig zag/coiled types will generally process a little slower, but slow and steady wins the race.

4. Choose Lighteners with Bond Builders to Protect the Integrity of Curly Hair

By far, one of the main challenges of curly hair is trying to preserve the curl pattern and structure. Styling, flat ironing, coloring, and lightening all threaten the strength of the curl. Taking the care to manage curly hair at every level is essential. Using lighteners with bond builders is a smart move for lightening and decoloring this category of hair. The bond builders in the lightener will protect curly hair from going limp and instead maintain the springiness and vibrancy of the curl.

5. Skip The Foils and Hand Paint Instead

Think of coloring and lightening curly hair just like the mechanics of the ever-so-popular “Diva Cut” where each curl is cut in relation to the next to make the hair look it’s absolute best. To lighten and color curly hair, put down the foils and pick up a balayage paint brush and balayage paddle. Next, examine how the curly hair falls and take notice of where the curls live in relation to one another. Look for the curly hair’s natural highs and lows and use that as the starting point to paint, remembering that curly hair will generally appear darker than straighter hair so you may need to adjust the formula. Curly hair will also reflect less light, making it appear less shiny (this is why product choices are so important). Finally, take note that colored curly hair may disperse throughout the hair differently than the way it was placed, depending on how the hair is styled, managed and cut. *Pro-tip – It is often a good idea to shape curly hair before performing a color service.

Toni Garcia Jackson

Follow Toni (@tonigarciajacksonhair) and Product Club (@productclub) for more expert tips on social media, salon ownership, and hair color education!

Back to Top