Take care when colouring hair

Want to flip your wig? When it comes to colour, you have a host of options. Here’s a quick summary:

Temporary colours deposit on the outside of the hair shaft, washing out in one to three shampoos. They’re available in rinses, shampoos, conditioners and mousses; they may hide the silver if you’re only 10 per cent grey. For an adventurous effect, try streaks of gold or wild colours with hair mascara.

Semi-permanent colours last for approximately six to 12 shampoos. They stain the cuticle slightly and hide up to 20 per cent of the grey.

Demi-permanents last up to 24 shampoos. They contain peroxide, which allows the dye to penetrate to the cortex of the hair shaft to form temporary bonds with the natural pigment. They’ll cover 25 to 50 per cent of the grey.

Permanent colours cover all of the grey. Peroxide and ammonia (or other alkaline solution) allow the dye to permeate the cortex, lift the natural colour and form a new colour.

Progressive colours react with the sulphur content in hair and also oxidize on the surface of the shaft. They’re most frequently used by men who don’t want it known they colour their hair. They contain lead acetate, which may be absbed through broken skin, so postpone your date with a new colour destiny if you have a scalp cut or rash.

Once you’ve re-hued, protect your coloured hair from the sun and sea — or chlorinated water. Use shampoos and conditioners for chemically-treated hair, and deep-condition regularly.

Avoid damaging your hair by colouring and perming-if at all possible, pick one or the other. For most people, henna is bad news, say hair experts. It may be derived from natural sources, but on hair it’s like varnish on a hardwood floor; it won’t wash out, and it interferes with other colours.