Hair Pre-Color Treatments and Products

Coloring your hair may seem like a straightforward process, but it can be challenging if your locks are not in optimal condition. While healthy hair is generally easy to dye, some types of hair can be very stubborn when it comes to receiving hair color:

  • Over-processed or damaged hair is highly porous and may process color too fast, resulting in a darker color than desired. Damaged areas such as dry ends suck up hair dye, which leads to uneven results.
  • Low porosity hair is not receptive to chemical treatments, and processing time may take longer than it would with normal porosity hair.
  • Coarse gray hair is more resistant to dyes, so you may find it difficult to get full coverage.

If your hair doesn’t absorb dye well, you must take steps prior to color application to ensure that you will get the desired shade. You must also protect your scalp and hair from chemical damage, especially if you apply color on a regular basis. The good news is that there are a variety of pre-color products on the market to help.

Pre-color treatments are designed to remove excess buildup and discoloration, protect the scalp from itching, and reduce chemical damage to your hair. By creating an optimal base for color application, pre-color treatments ensure evenly deposited color, increase color retention, and enhance vibrancy.

Blonde girl in the beauty store

Types of Pre-Color Treatments

1. Hair Clarifying

Your hair doesn’t have to be perfectly clean before coloring. Natural oils form a protective barrier that helps reduce scalp irritation and limit damage from chemical treatments. However, if you have build-up from too many styling products, previous coloring, or environmental factors, clarifying treatments will help the color adhere better. Clarifying and chelating treatments remove color or chemical build-up so color molecules can enter the hair shaft.

Products designed to remove build-up: Malibu C Color Prepare, Malibu C Crystal Gel Treatment, and MADISON REED Prime for Perfection Hair Color Primer.

2. Protective Pre-Color Treatments

Pre-color treatment is especially important for bleached hair to minimize damage during the coloring process and help strengthen your hair. Pre-color serums massaged into the hair before coloring act as a barrier between harsh chemicals and the most fragile areas of your hair.

Some pre-color products are meant to be applied prior to the coloring process to coat the scalp and prevent chemicals from reaching hair follicles. Very damaged hair needs the most protection, so your pre-color primer should be based on hydrolyzed proteins and plant oils.

Products: Coconut oil, hairRegenix Follicle Guard, Schwarzkopf BC Bonacure Color Save Pre-Color Service Kit, Colorful Neutral Protein Filler, Goldwell Elumen Prepare Color Pre-Treatment, and Scott Cornwall Pre-Color Protein Spray.

3. Porosity Equalizers

Pre-color treatments balance the hair’s porosity prior to the coloring or lightening process to ensure more even color distribution. Protein-rich pre-color treatments help reduce porosity and smooth dry, overly porous hair. When you apply dye to smooth hair, it will absorb color evenly from roots to ends.

Related products: ion Color Brilliance Pre-Color Treatment, Colorful Neutral Protein Filler, Porosity Equalizer by Zotos, SCHWARZKOPF BC BONACURE Color Save Pre-Color Service, Joico K-Pak, H.K.P Liquid Protein Chemical Perfector, and Aminotouch Natural PURE PROTEIN TREATMENT.

Protein-based porosity equalizers are not suitable for low-porosity hair. Low-porosity hair needs to be treated with alkaline solutions or heat to temporarily lift the cuticle and prepare the hair to absorb dye.

Using a clarifying shampoo before coloring helps remove product build-up and makes low-porosity hair more color responsive.

4. Color Enhancing Treatments

Pre-color treatments dissolve artificial color build-up from previous dye jobs. Build-up causes hair color to look dull, so pre-treating will help you achieve vibrant, shiny, and long-lasting color.

Related products: Goldwell Elumen Prepare Color Pre-Treatment, MADISON REED Prime for Perfection Hair Color Primer, L’Oreal Excellence Pre-Color Serum, Proclère Professional Ice Lites Pre Color Primer, Aloxxi Support Colourprime Pre-Color Treatment, and Malibu C Color Prepare Hair Treatment.

5. Pre-Color Treatments for Gray Hair

Gray hair often resists coloring and may need more time to fully absorb the dye. Washing with a clarifying shampoo prior to coloring dissolves excess buildup and makes it easier for dye molecules to penetrate your hair.

Very stubborn gray hair must be pre-softened prior to coloring to achieve full coverage. You should apply 20 volume hydrogen peroxide developer and let it sit in your hair for 5-10 minutes. The peroxide developer lifts the cuticle for better color penetration.

Products: Pre-Softener for Color Resistant Gray Hair by Pluscosmetica Duo, Ion Color Brilliance Pre-Color Treatment, and Malibu C Color Prepare.

6. Hair Color Removers

Dye removers are designed to remove the color buildup from previous colorings or remove unwanted hair dye to create the optimal base for color application. This makes it easier to get the color you want.

Related products: Developlus Color Oops Color Remover, Pravana Artificial Hair Color Extractor Combo Set, Color B4. Hair Color Remover, VANISH Color Corrector, and L’Oreal – ColorZap Haircolor Remover.

How to Choose the Right Product

Most pre-color primers can be used at home or on the go. Some pre-color treatments work better when the heat is applied, while others don’t require any heat to be effective. Always make sure to read the instructions because application methods may differ for different products. Pre-color treatments that come in a spray bottle are the most convenient for users. Just spray the product onto clean, dry hair before a color session and comb through without rinsing.

Pre-color primers are versatile products that provide multiple benefits to customers. Your stylist will select the optimal pre-color treatment based on the condition of your hair and the brand of hair color that you are going to use.

Girl in the salon waiting for a color service

Disclaimer: All content on this blog is created for informational purposes only. You shouldn’t use it as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Last Updated on April 3, 2022 by Gaga

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2 thoughts on “Hair Pre-Color Treatments and Products”

  1. Getting ready to use L’Oréal Excellence Creme, on my previously colored hair.
    Directions are vague for the (PRE)Pre-Color Treatment.
    Directions state…”Massage PRE into dry ends before coloring. Avoid root area. Do not rinse.
    The PRE should not be applied to mid-length & ends if this is first time coloring”.
    ***I have short hair & applying to ends would be too difficult. My hair is color-treated.
    **Do I put the PRE on all over…or…not at all?

  2. Hydrogen peroxide is not ideal for pre-softening resistant grays because it is acidic; acidic solutions close the cuticle, not swell it. Cuticle swelling happens in alkaline states; you need something with a higher pH. You’ll get a better result by applying any liquid Hi-Lift color directly to the areas needing softening for 15 minutes. Wipe off the sections with a damp cotton or towel and apply the desired shade.

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