The immense options and versatility in natural hair are things to fall in love with.
pictured: Nefertiti Bourne

With natural hair, we are able to switch from one style to the next in a matter of days. The most noticeable of them all is getting to change your hair color. But we have to be careful as sometimes what we believe is the safest option available may actually not be. Not paying attention to the ingredients in our hair color can potentially cause harm to our delicate strands. The frequent salon goers may have heard their stylist suggest permanent hair color and toner--here we'll explain the difference, as told to us by colorist Stephany Faison.


This method of changing hair color is a drastic chemical process. Faison explained that the original pigment that exists within the hair strand. “With permanent hair color, the chemicals in the product lift the hair cuticles of the hair shaft, replacing the pre-existing pigment with new color particles. This essentially exchanges one shade of pigment for the other.”


“Toners are less harsh on the hair for a few reasons," Faison says. "They only coat the hair strands instead of penetrating the hair shaft.” Because of this, a toner is more likely to fade away quickly. Due to the high risk of bleeding with each wash and sweat, it is better to use color-safe products to preserve the life and prevent brassiness.

They only coat the hair strands instead of penetrating the hair shaft.
Stephany Faison

Maintaining the integrity of curls when handling chemical based coloring systems

Faison has frequently colored my hair for the last 5 years and we have had these conversations on hair maintenance each time I felt like dyeing my hair. Like any natural, I don't want to go through having had a fabulous color change but risk it for looser, damaged curls. For me, the preferred method of hair coloring choice has been based on how dry my hair would feel. I have determined that the best choice to maintain curl integrity is with toners and semi permanent hair color.

Faison explained to me the reasons behind toners being preferred--to maintain curl integrity. “For permanent hair color, Once the shaft has been lifted for the new color to go penetrate the shaft the cuticles are never the same especially on virgin hair.” She mentioned how the cuticles never lay the same allowing moisture to stay in. The matter can get even worse for naturals that frequently use permanent hair color. To avoid severely damaging the cuticle, colorist suggests toners. Faison also reiterated, “toners latch on to the hair shaft but slowly disappear over time which causes more frequent hair coloring processes.”

In the grand scheme of the hair-coloring world...

What you choose depends on a few factors: the risk that you’re willing to take to achieve the color results you desire, the longevity of the color that you want, and how your hair reacts to certain chemicals.