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Stylists Say: Can I Still Dye My Over-Processed Hair?

blonde woman on an overprocessed hair break

Perfect hair color can make you feel like a new woman, bouncing those amber or dark brown locks while you walk and getting tons of compliments. If you’ve tried to lighten your hair at home with poor results or experienced a seriously bad appointment, however, you can end up with over-processed hair that needs a break.

If your stylist is telling you to back away from the dye but you just can’t live without your trademark ash blonde hair, what’s a girl to do? We posed the question to Redken artist Blake Reed Evans, who gave us the scoop on how to tell if you have over-processed hair, what to do if you have over-processed hair, and whether or not you can dye over over-processed hair.

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How can you tell if you have over-processed hair?

We’re all guilty of not following instructions sometimes, but with hair, the consequences can take longer to ride out. The easiest way to identify over-processed hair is by taking a look at your hair habits. Did you go blonde quickly? Try a chemical process for the first time without vetting the salon? Apply bleach at home? If you’re nodding, it’s likely a case of over-processing.

Touching or moving your hair around is another easy way to identify fragile strands. If your hair suddenly feels a lot like ramen noodles, chances are good you need to step away from the bleach for a bit.

Evans has the easiest trick of all: Just run a brush through it.

“The biggest sign is if different lengths of your hair come out when you brush it. If it’s all the same length, you are good to go!

Once you’ve identified the damage, it’s time to start taking your hair routine seriously. As much as we’d like it to, hair just doesn’t grow overnight. It’ll take serious focus to help your mane back to health.

Can you dye your over-processed hair?

If you really want to dye your over-processed hair but your stylist argues against it, don’t seek a second opinion. Instead, work with your hair pro to find less damaging ways to boost your hair color while your mane heals! Remember: Your stylist wants you to be happy, to tip well, and to come back. Ultimately, they’re on your team.

“Believe it or not, your hair is made up of 70 to 80 percent protein and 10 and 15 percent moisture and only 1 percent hair color,” Evans explains. “You can’t ignore the dominating composition of the hair while coloring it.”

For clients with reduced hair health, Evans recommends color formulas like Redken Chromatics (“Fortifies the hair during the coloring process”) and Shades EQ Glosses (“Adds color, shine, and condition!”).

“If you’re feeling frustrated with your stylist advising against color, ask if there is a less intense color service option! You just have to be prepared to have a different look than what you set out for,” Evans says.

You don’t have to go totally cold turkey to get your hair goals back on track—just be smart about it!

What should you do if you have over-processed hair?

Evans is clear that if you suspect your hair is over-processed, the only wrong choice is attempting to fix the problem or dye over it at home. He says “major unpredictability” can result in a range of final looks—few of which improve the look or feel of your mane.

“Nothing can replace a professional assessment of your current hair color and your goal hair color,” Evans explains. “You could experience everything from splotchy hair color [and] orange roots to hair breakage.”

Once you’ve gotten a consultation from a professional, it’s time to make your at-hair home care routine as nourishing and reparative as possible. Rely on salon-quality formulas that promise strengthening and protection!

“My absolute favorite products are Redken Extreme CAT Anti-Damage Protein Reconstructing Rinse-Off Hair Treatment, which you use once a week in the shower to help strengthen your hair, Redken One United Multi-Benefit Hair Treatment Spray for moisture, and Redken Extreme Play Safe Heat Protection and Damage Repair Hair Treatment for heat protection up to 450 degrees,” Evans says.

Armed with Evans’ genius tips, you’ll be back to shiny-looking, healthy-feeling hair sooner rather than later. And that first dye job with healthy hair will feel so good!