There’s nothing better than the feeling of walking out of a hair salon with fresh, glossy highlights. It’s no secret that getting your hair dyed isn’t exactly cheap (not to mention very time-consuming!) so it’s understandable you’d be frustrated when your hair color starts to fade quickly, giving way to a brassy look you’re not exactly crazy about.
If you’ve ever wondered how to make hair color last longer—or if color-safe shampoo can help—you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about how to make your hair color last longer.
How to Maintain your Hair Color, Step By Step
First things first: What can you do to make your hair color last longer? Here, Dr. Erum Ilyas, MD, MBE, FAAD, CEO and Founder of AmberNoon, provides a step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Choose a color-treated hair shampoo
This will help maintain your hair color when you do wash your hair, Dr. Ilyas explains.
Step 2: Reduce the frequency of shampoo use
“Find a balance between your hair needs for cleanliness and reducing the exposure of your hair to the pH changes that can trigger a loss of hair dye,” Dr. Ilyas suggests. “This process may include consideration of use of conditioner without shampoo for some hair washes.”
Step 3: Use conditioner
According to Dr. Ilyas, a conditioner can protect the hair by almost placing a sealant over the surface of the hair follicle.
Step 4: Consider a UV-protecting finishing spray
If you have significant UV exposure, Dr. Ilyas says a UV spray can help. “Remember these are not necessarily protecting your scalp from UV exposure but they may help protect your hair from the breakdown of hair dye that can occur with UV exposure,” she explains.
How Long Should Color Last in your Hair?
All hair color is going to fade at some point, right? But how long should it last? It varies, according to Dr. Ilyas. “There are two ways that hair dyes become less effective over time. The first way is that as your hair grows out, the roots show with your original color making the hair dye less noticeable,” she says. “The second is that the hair dye naturally washes out over time or is impacted by UV and other light or heat sources. For most people, roots will take about six weeks to really show and warrant a touch-up. The time frame for hair dye to fade can vary depending on how the hair is managed in terms of frequency of washes, type of shampoo, and hair products used.”
Do you need Special Shampoo For Colored Hair?
Browse any drugstore aisle and you’ll be met with tons of different shampoo options. But if you’re hoping to maintain your color for as long as possible, how much does it matter that you buy shampoo for colored hair?
The answer, according to Dr. Ilyas, is yes. “The goal of shampoo for color-treated hair is to maintain a pH that allows your hair to hold onto its pigment and to avoid stripping color with harsh detergents that can strip the cuticle and the color along with it,” she explains. “If you do not use a color-treated shampoo you will need to color your hair more frequently since your hair simply will not hold the color as long.”
What Is Considered Color-Safe Shampoo?
If you see a “color-safe” label on a hair product, it typically means that it doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals that cause hair color to fade. Color-safe shampoos usually don’t contain sulfates, for example.
Choose The Right Color-Safe Shampoo For Your Hair
When shopping for a color-safe shampoo, Dr. Ilyas says it’s important to note that pH does matter.
“The pH of shampoos does matter. There is some research that suggests that the pH of shampoos can cause or make our hair more susceptible to breakage,” she explains. “Our hair needs an acidic pH to make it less susceptible to frizz and friction against other hair follicles that can result in breakage.”
In fact, she says, one study showed that 75% of salon shampoos had the right pH compared to only 38% of drugstore brands. “For color-safe shampoos, pH is even more important to maintain the integrity of the hair color. For this reason, I tend to favor brands that specifically state that they are for color-treated hair and consider spending a bit more on salon-favored brand names. Hair dye is an investment of money and time so it is worth maintaining it.”
What Is the Best Shampoo For Color-Treated Hair?
If you want to maintain your color, you might consider investing in Rodan + Fields’ Volume+ Regimen, which is a three-step regimen designed to boost thickness, repair damage, and minimize hair fall. It’s also great for color-treated hair as it doesn’t contain sulfates, parabens, or dyes.
Other Tips and Treatments to Keep Your Hair Color
In addition to using a shampoo specifically geared toward color-treated hair, Dr. Ilyas says she finds that heat protectants and leave-in conditioners can play an important role in retaining hydration and a sealant-like effect on hair.
“Hair dye is depositing itself in the scales of the cuticles of the hair follicle,” she explains. “The actual structure of the hair shaft itself may not be what you think. The surface of a hair follicle is actually not smooth, it is scaly. This plays a significant role in considering how hair products and hair color work by lodging within the scale of these follicles. Recognizing this can help you understand why maintaining hydration and protection of the hair shaft can also protect the color.”
Browse Our Products and Find the Best Shampoo For Colored Hair
Rodan and Fields’ has a handful of sulfate-free hair products that are perfect for color-treated hair. These include:
Rodan + Fields’ Volume+ Regimen (mentioned above).
Rodan + Fields’ Smooth+ Regimen, which is safe for color-treated hair while also improving shine and decreasing frizz.
Refresh+ Dry Shampoo, an excellent dry shampoo option for color-treated hair when you need a quick fix.
While hair will grow out and dye will inevitably fade over time, you can take steps to preserve your color for as long as possible. And a color-safe shampoo is a great start.
*All referenced results are based on an 8-week U.S. clinical and consumer study.
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