Been craving a new look? How about gold-streaked tresses or an ultra-dramatic hair color courtesy of the dye bottle? Well, OK. But first a word of caution: While switching to a new hair color is a great way to change up your style, when done improperly, dyeing can have long-lasting and damaging effects on delicate tresses, especially if you’re African American. If you’re concerned about a dye job, before you head to the salon, consider AOL’s Black Voices celebrity hair colorist Aura Freidman’s advice:

If you’re worried about hair damage:
-    Avoid lightening hair too much (an intense process). But if you do lighten, use reconstructive conditioners or hair masks to re-moisturize your hair after treatment. 
-    Consider a demi-permanent hair color. These dyes are ammonia-free and do the least damage. They also boost hair shine, last long and don’t require touch-ups.
-    Ask about maintenance. If your hair is damaged, the last thing you need are harsh treatments. Ask how often and how many treatments you’ll need to keep up your look.

If you’re worried about mistakes:
-    Stay away from at-home boxed dyes, Friedman warns. While do-it-at-home hair coloring is cheap, think about the big bucks you’ll spend at the salon correcting a mistake.
-    If you opt for an at-home dye job, consider consulting a colorist for tips and make sure to read all instructions.

If you have relaxed hair:
-    African-American women who constantly use relaxers should probably stick to non permanent hair dyes. They are least damaging and won’t change the texture of their already-fragile hair.

If you wear your hair in its natural state:
-    Highlighting and coloring hair are OK; just use care. If you do it properly, you can avoid hair damage.

Thinking about making a color change? Click here for what you need to know about dyeing your hair.