Whether you have platinum blonde, brunette, black, red, or even blue hair, color-treated hair needs a little extra attention if you want your color to last. Nothing is worse than spending big bucks at your hair salon for the newest trending color and then having it fade after a week due to not taking care of your locks. Trust me: I learned the hard way. Coming from someone who has had pink, orange, black, brunette, and blonde, I’ve had to learn a thing or two about how to take care of dyed hair. Here are the tips that I’ve gathered from maintaining my own color-treated hair over the years, plus tried-and-true tips from an expert.
Michael is a celebrity hair stylist who has worked with actors like Hillary Duff, Madelyn Cline, Hunter Schafer, and more. He has also worked with Garnier as a consulting celebrity stylist, as well as represented leading brands like Schwarzkopf Professional and Aloxxi International.
1. Wait a full 72 hours to shampoo after coloring
When coloring hair, your cuticle layer is opened, making it easy for color to penetrate the hair shaft. When you wash your hair too soon after your appointment, the cuticle layer could still be open, which then leads to your fresh color being washed down the drain. It takes up to three days for the cuticle layer to fully close, so the longer you wait to shampoo your hair after you color your hair, the more time the color will have to absorb, meaning your color will last longer in between salon visits.
2. Use sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner
Sodium laureth sulfate, also known as sodium laureth ether sulfate, is a type of anionic detergent that is found in many personal care products. This ingredient is used to help produce a foaming effect to your shampoos and conditioners. By using sulfates, you run the risk of stripping your hair of its natural oils and moisture, which can then lead to stripping your beautiful color-treated hair (which you just spent hours and presumably hundreds of dollars at the hair salon to achieve). Make sure you’re using a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner to keep your color from fading between salon visits.
3. Avoid scorching-hot showers
Though hot showers feel amazing to some, it isn’t so great for your hair color. Hot water can open the cuticle of the hair, which can allow hair color to rinse out while shampooing and conditioning.
To prevent washing your color down the drain, try shampooing with lukewarm water, then rinsing with cold water after conditioning. The warm water will allow the shampoo and conditioner to penetrate and cleanse, while the cold water will help seal in the moisture from your conditioner while preventing color from fading by sealing the hair’s cuticle.
4. Wash hair less frequently
Washing your hair every day is something you want to avoid if wanting your hair color to last longer, especially if you have a vibrant color like red or copper. Not only does washing strip away the natural oils that moisturize and keep your hair color looking fresh, according to Dueñas, you also wash away a little bit of your hair dye every time you wash your hair. Try washing your hair every other day, or even 2-3 times a week to keep your color on lock. The exception to this is if you’re doing a lot of sweaty exercising, says Dueñas.
“If you find your color is fading fast, but your hair is oily/greasy and you need to wash often, mix your shampoo with your conditioner,” Dueñas suggests. It’ll make the shampoo less abrasive, keeping your color longer.
5. On off days, use dry shampoo
On your off days between washing your hair, try using color-safe dry shampoos. These will refresh your hair and absorb oil without needing to do a full wash. You can also try color-tinted dry shampoos to revamp your color without having to head to the salon.
6. Use leave-in treatments to protect hair color when styling
Colored and chemically-treated hair needs extra hydration and protection from the sun to prevent damage and loss of nutrients to the hair. Leave-in treatments will help keep your hair smooth and hydrated, and it’s important to find one with UV protection so that the sun won’t fade your hair color. Dueñas even recommended adding a sunscreen spray over your hair if you don’t want to purchase another product. “Using hairsprays and styling products with UV protection will do wonders,” he says.
7. Use heat protectant spray before using hot tools
Heat can strip away color and hydration and lead to damaged hair. To help prevent these problems from happening while using hot tools, try using a heat protectant spray before blow drying or styling. Heat protectant sprays will help reduce moisture loss from inside the hair, smooth the outside of the hair, and protect your hair from humidity after heat styling, which will help maintain your color. Dueñas recommends using hot tools at the lowest setting possible to avoid the high heat from pulling the color from your hair.
8. Prepare your hair for next color process
Maintaining hair color doesn’t start after you leave the salon—it starts before you even arrive. Use a clarifying shampoo the day before your next color treatment at the hair salon. This will strip your hair of any oils and product buildup that could block your color from penetrating the cuticle at a deeper level.
9. Avoid chlorine and salt water
Chlorine is a chemical bleaching agent that cleans pools and can strip color from your hair. Blonde hair is susceptible to turning a greenish tint from chlorine, while darker shades may become dull, dry out, and lose their shine. So, if you find yourself wanting to go to the pool, try a swimmer’s cap. “If you are going to be swimming in the ocean, or in a pool, adding conditioner to your hair and putting it in a cap will save your color from being drawn out by salts and chlorine,” Dueñas says. This will create a barrier on the hair shaft so that the chlorine won’t penetrate your strands.
10. Keep up with trims
As tempting as it can be to keep your hair’s length at any cost, split ends won’t hold hair color and can fade even faster than healthy hair. Make sure you’re keeping up with regular trims every 8-12 weeks so your hair color looks fresh from root to tip.