How to Ensure You Have The Perfect Hair Color for Your Wedding

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

There are a lot of details that go into planning your wedding day: Tablescapes, music, food and drink… beauty is just a fraction of the minutia that makes up the sum of your detailed efforts. Ready or not, decisions need to be made, and throughout it all, you're trying to keep the journey more fun and less tedious, of course.

Hair alone requires a few different considerations, so we're here to help you map out your wedding #hairgoals and ensure you not only have the best color on your wedding day, but an overall healthy mane for one of, if not, the most photographed days of your life.

When to Get Your Color Done

ishonest No.501 - Frizzy Hair

No.501 - Frizzy Hair

If you’re working with highlights, you want to aim for two to three weeks before the big day. At that point, it will still be fresh without appearing too bright at the roots or around the face.

For a rich, all-over color on the darker side, you’re safe to go in as close to one to two weeks before the big day. Typically, darker colors will fade faster the more shampoos it's gone through, so that enables you to push things up a little closer to the date. That applies to lowlights too—if you're adding any sort of temporary color (like a pop of something more heavily saturated or even a semi-permanent color) these will also fade with every wash, so be mindful of using things that aren't permanent.

Two weeks is really the sweet spot when it comes to coloring your hair before your wedding: You’ve had a few shampoos since you left the salon, but not so many that it’ll show wear. It’s just enough time to acclimate to any changes.

Which Risks NOT to Take

We tapped NY's Tiffany Fodor, an editorial stylist and wedding hair guru, to see what input she had on the topic of what not to do. "Don't try a deep conditioning treatment that you’re unfamiliar with a week before the wedding," she advises. "I once had a client try this on her own before her wedding day and her hair was beyond oily because the product wouldn’t come out after shampooing multiple times."

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Another last-minute change you don't want to make is switching up your colorist. "Don’t try a new person or new look weeks before your wedding day," says Fodor. Every hair colorist has their own techniques and you won’t know if they’re talented with your hair until it’s too late." If you're looking to make a big change to your color (like going from light to dark, or dark to light), make sure you graduate into those color changes. Do not expect to have it happen overnight because you can't always change your mind at the last minute without compromising your hair.

How to Care for Your Color

When you combine color-preserving shampoos, scalp scrubs, color-safe conditioners and cool water, you've got yourself the perfect cocktail for the ideal color care. Now let’s break this down.

Color-preserving shampoos are self-explanatory. They’re created without sulfates to avoid stripping your strands of their newly inhabited tone, and instead have conditioning agents to help your cuticles stay silky smooth.

Scalp scrubs are going to keep you from flaking or getting dandruff, and they'll do this without compromising your color. Their purpose is to rebalance the scalp and eliminate any unwanted buildup. Massaging a good scrub to the scalp beneath your tresses will treat the skin without affecting the color of your strands.

ishonest No.202 - Prevent Elasticity Damage

No.202 - Prevent Elasticity Damage

As mentioned before, doing a conditioning treatment can leave your hair feeling too heavy. Instead, opt for a color-safe conditioner to help keep any unwanted tones at bay. Lastly, try your best to steer clear of hot water. We know a hot shower can be a favored pastime for some, but heat will always alter the porosity of your hair, leaving it dry and brittle, and could leave your color partially worn out. Don't worry, that doesn't mean you have to take a super cold shower—just try and keep the temperature on the tepid side.

When to Get a Haircut

Haircuts are a foundational component of your wedding look. Not only do they provide those perfectly face-framed wisps in all the right places, but a good haircut will assist your colorist with a fresh and ready canvas.

But imagine this: You just dropped some serious money at the salon getting your hair colored; you got a natural cascade of balayage that drips into perfectly brightened ends. Then you get a haircut, and all those perfectly placed streaks and foils have been snipped and are left staring up at you from the floor. Sorry for the pangs of fear, but that anxiety-laden feeling is everything we're looking to help you avoid for your wedding day. Lesson learned: Get your hair cut before your color, not after.

Another thing to note is that prior to your pre-wedding haircut appointment, be sure you are totally confident in the wedding hairstyle you'll be wearing. Will it be up or down? Will you part to the side or in the center? That way, your stylist and your colorist can ensure that what they're creating is a collaborative effort and in full-on support of your wedding day look.

If you're feeling bold, a haircut change like a blunt bob or some fresh bangs can totally work as a wedding hairstyle all on its own, but be sure to get that new 'do before you go to your colorist.

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