Do You Cut or Colour Your Hair First? There's a Right Order

Alina Gonzalez
by Alina Gonzalez

It may seem super simple and obvious, but it's something many people don't pause to think about until they've wasted time and money: the order in which you cut and colour your hair and why it's important to always cut before you colour. I myself initially fell victim to this misunderstanding and learned it the hard way. Once upon a time, I spent several hours in my all-time-favourite Los Angeles hair salon, Andy Lecompte, getting my hair coloured by my hair guru, Denis de Souza. When it was done, it was everything I wanted (as it always is when I'm in his chair): perfect, gorgeous, summery, blond, dimensional, natural, everything.

The only problem was I was in desperate need of a haircut, which I had on the books for a few weeks later. When it came closer to that haircut appointment, I realised, too late, and with a sad, panicky feeling reserved especially for true hair colour love, that I was about to cut off some of the beautiful blond colour I loved so much! I felt legitimately heartbroken, and I was also baffled that I had not considered this beforehand. Why hadn't I scheduled my colour for after the cut? The cut would determine the colour, from where certain tones would be deposited to the ends and face-framing pieces. I felt so silly.

First of all, the haircut was going to take a few inches off the ends, as most cuts do. The hair colour I have mimics the sun's natural effect on your hair, which means it's lightest at the ends. I literally felt sad at the thought of scissors cutting off the brightest, blondest layer. Then, the cut would be taking a lot of the thickness out of my hair overall, making it lighter and less dense.

That's about when I facepalmed my forehead like, "What were you thinking getting your hair coloured before this cut?!" By the time my haircut was done, I had about 50% less hair—it would have taken that much less time, both for me and Denis, and just been far less of an involved and consuming process if I'd coloured post-cut. I thought about how actual chunks of hair that had been painted so beautifully blond by Denis were being cut off my head and to the floor. His work was being wasted as I watched! I didn't want a single strand of it to be gone, but by the very nature of a haircut, it was.

And thirdly, the cut changes how and where strands fall. There are new and different pieces framing your face. There are new layers and angles. The work of a good colourist vibes with your current style to enhance the cut. They take the pieces that already, via the cut, frame your face, and make them the right tones for your skin, eyes, etc. Different strands will be coloured different depths and dimensions based on where and how they fall.

A colourist works with the cut you walk into the salon with. Don't get me wrong: The overall picture of my hair still looked incredible after the cut because each individual strand had benefited from the magic of Denis's work, and a good colour is going to look good whether you cut it shorter or not. But factually speaking, someone took scissors to a painting that had been completed and was already in place (it still hurts my heart to think about). In essence, I learned that colouring your hair before you cut it is like painting inside your house before you take walls down and rearrange everything. In other words, it makes no sense.

One is the frame and foundation for the other. You don't decorate something that hasn't been built yet. Just like you shouldn't decorate your hair, with colour, until the frame and foundation of the cut are in place! Sure, you're going to have to cut it eventually, but the idea is to stagger the services so you're not colouring before a cut. Otherwise, you're just cutting away at the colour!

Since that lesson, if I know that my strands are in need of a good cutting, I won't get my hair coloured until after it's been trimmed.

What about you? Have you made this order mistake before? Tell us in the comments below! And click here for a product that will keep your hair looking fresh between appointments. 

Opening Image: Imaxtree

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