What Is The Right Age To Start Hair Coloring

SoZo HAIR Salon Tips

Stylists are being asked increasingly more often about coloring children’s hair, whether for their daughters or their sons. Children love to do things like color their hair for team spirit events, or just to see the vibrant fun colors in their hair as an expression of individuality. For parents, the first concern is always for the child’s health and safety, and so we tend to veer toward a “no” on this subject. In the following article, we will discuss what is and what is not safe for your child and their hair, as well as when it is safe to start letting your child get permanent hair color or highlights.

Temporary Hair Color

We want our children to feel free to express themselves, but we also want them to know they are beautiful just the way they are. So let’s talk about some less permanent hair color options first. Because fun color has become a huge trend, there are several options for your youngster to get that crazy color in their hair that will wash out immediately. These products consist of, hair chalk, colored hairspray, colored gel and even shampoos that will add a subtle hint of color. All of these options are nontoxic and will not change the look or feel of your child’s hair permanently. You can also purchase fun colored clip in or glue in extensions. Clip in extensions are obviously the less permanent option, but even glue in extensions can be easily removed with a little rubbing alcohol, keeping the natural integrity of your little punksters hair intact.

Semi Permanent Hair Color

Another, messier, but still relatively gentle option, is fun colored hair dye. Because most fun colored hair dyes are non-ammonia, direct dyes, they are very gentle on the hair. They only coat the outside of the hair strand because there is no ammonia or hydrogen peroxide in them to open the hair cuticle. This means that not only will they do little to no damage to the hair, the color will only last up to 6 washes. These products look and work best on lighter hair colors, as their true vibrancy is not as apparent on darker browns without pre-lightening the hair first. Pre-lightening/bleaching is a big no-no on the fine, still maturing hair strands of anyone under about age 14.

Permanent Hair Color

Another option for those seeking a permanent change for their child is using a balayage technique to add color to the hair. While we still do not recommend permanent hair color to anyone under age 14, balayage is a completely off the scalp application, making it less risky. We do not highly suggest foil work for two reasons, foil work is much closer to the scalp and can bleed onto the scalp, also because the foils are folded to keep heat In, they can do an extensive amount of damage to the hair strands, including changing the texture of the hair, and causing breakage to the fragile strands on a child’s head. Fun Color tips are also an option for children over age 12, as the harsh chemicals are kept only in the very ends of the hair, and can be easily trimmed away.

Risk Factors Of Hair Color On Children

While there has not been a large amount of research done to fully discredit putting bleach or permanent color on your child’s hair, there are several risk factors involved. A child’s hair continues to change in color, texture, and strength until they are past puberty. This pre-pubescent hair tends to be very fine and fragile, making harsh chemicals like ammonia, bleach and hydrogen peroxide even more damaging to their young tresses. Allergic reactions are a risk as well. Children’s scalp is much more tender and sensitive than the fully matured scalp of an adult, making it much more susceptible to chemical burns and irritation from harsher hair color processes.

Fumes are a risk factor for children as well, as their lungs are still maturing, and inhalation of ammonia fumes could trigger trouble breathing and even cause asthma attacks in children who face issues with asthma and allergies. If you absolutely feel the need to use permanent color on your child’s head, a patch test should be done 48 hours in advance to check for any adverse reactions.

As cosmetologists, we are always going to guide you in a direction that we feel is safest. If you are really set on letting your child under age 12 do something permanent to their hair, we strongly suggest that you consult with their doctor first. They will be able to explain the pros and cons to your developing child’s health better than any stylist could. We all want our children to feel free to express their individually, this is what makes them feel special and unique, but we also want them to do it in the safest way possible, avoiding any risk to their health. If your youngster is asking about changing their hair, think about taking them to see your stylist, let them discuss the options. This will help them to feel involved in the decision, and hopefully help them to make a safer, wiser decision for themselves.


SoZo HAIR Salon Tips is a blog about beauty salon tips, tricks, and hints. SoZo HAIR by Bajon Salon & Spa serves the greater Cincinnati area. We are located in Olde West Chester at the corner of Cincinnati-Dayton and West Chester Rds. We’re just a short drive from Mason Oh and Fairfield Oh….a big city hair salon without the big drive and big traffic.


Chelsea B. is a passionate hair designer with an up to the minute awareness of what’s happening in the hair, beauty, and fashion industry. Her passion shows immediately along with her very caring customer service skills!


Karen Welch

Karen Welch has 32 years of experience in the Hair Fashion Industry and is considered an expert in hair design, hair color, and beauty makeovers.