Titi Branch is one half of the dynamic sister duo behind the curly hair care line, Miss Jessie’s. She’s also a self-admitted color addict (check out her amazing platinum blonde curls at left). “Color is a wonderful option to enhance natural hair. It breaks up a mass of black hair by giving each curl dimension and light,” says Branch.  Though she believes hair color is a form of self-expression and that “rules” are few, Branch does have some major insights into the process, what to look for in a colorist, and how to care for your colored curls.

Don’t DIY if you want results that are two or more shades lighter than your base color. “At-home color kits contain permanent color that can change the shade of your hair, but they are not meant to be used for dramatic changes or highlights,” says Branch. And if you do DIY, note that the picture on the front of the box is not the result you’ll achieve. Check out the side or back panel for estimated results based on your starting shade.

Don’t Choose a colorist without seeing a look book of her work. “Do you like her other clients’ color? Does their hair look healthy? Ask yourself these questions because finding the right professional is the first step to achieving results you’ll be happy with,” says Branch.

Do Take a picture with you to the salon. “No colorist worth her salt will guarantee a result based on the picture you bring, but it’s a great jumping off point. A picture shows what your comfort level is with color,” says Branch.

Do Consider highlights. “Color is damaging to the hair. There’s no way around it. So I like to mitigate that fact by highlighting instead of applying permanent color to the entire head. Highlighting uses bleach or permanent color to change the shade of intermittent pieces of hair, so it exposes fewer strands to potential damage,” says Branch.

Do Deep condition and get regular haircuts. “Naturally curly hair is inherently dry, so there’s no such thing as over conditioning. And that becomes especially true when you color your hair,” says Branch. She suggests deep conditioning for 15 minutes every time you wash and bi-annual haircuts (unless you’re maintaining a short do, in which case, get a trim as needed).