Let’s face it, most of us either color our hair on a regular basis or have tried a new shade just for fun. It doesn’t matter if we did it ourselves, right out of a box in our own bathroom, or if we paid top dollar for a “colorist” at a posh salon. When our color-treated hair looks good, we want it to last as long as possible.
There’s nothing better than that fresh from the salon, new color experience. Your hair looks so rich, so shiny and so perfect. Unless you take care of that fabulous new look, you’ll be disappointed in just a few short weeks–or in some cases even less. The gorgeous rich browns get muddy and dull looking. The beautiful shades of blonde suddenly look brassy, and the vibrant reds just don’t look so vibrant anymore. We quickly find ourselves back in the salon, flipping through outdated magazines and wondering if we need to get a weekend job to help pay for the monthly investment.
I’ve been coloring my hair for so many years I can hardly remember when or why I started. I am a product of the 80’s and a huge fan of Cyndi Lauper. Cyndi could then, and still does, rock pink, purple and green hair better than anyone on the planet. I distinctly remember dyeing my hair when I went to a rock concert. I chose bright fire engine red in hopes that David Lee Roth would spot me in the crowd. I’m sure he noticed! And I’m sure it was for all the wrong reasons. Think circus clown.
After coloring my hair for fun for so many years, there came that fateful day when (dare I say it out loud?) I found a gray hair. What the heck? When did this happen? If you’re like me you pull one or two out, but as time passes you realize, “Yikes! I’m going to have a bald spot if I keep yanking these silvery hairs out of my head!” What’s the solution? Coloring, dying, touching up the roots, whatever you call it and however it’s done—we want hair color to last.
To help us get the most out of that fresh from the salon experience, I’ve put together some color saving tips that will extend the life of your new hair color. The goal is to make that perfect hair color last twice as long between colorings, and, more importantly, without a whole lot of effort.
We’ve all heard of the things we need to do after we get our hair colored, but did you know there are things we can do to get best results before we ever step into that salon? It’s called ‘the Pre-prep step to fabulous hair color.’ It’s well known that healthy hair will hold color a lot longer than unhealthy hair. So, it’s important to take care of your hair every day to avoid damage and drying. About a week or so before your scheduled appointment, give yourself a nice deep conditioning treatment.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, there are some effective DIY masks you can make at home using ingredients like avocados and olive oil. Just remember that hair coloring can be pricey, and it’s an investment that’s worth your time and effort protecting. If you don’t use conditioner on a regular basis, you should on the days leading up to your appointment. Be sure to pay close attention to your ends. The healthier your hair is, the happier you will be with your color and how long it lasts. Any kind of processing, including coloring, can dry and damage your hair. Take every precautionary measure to prevent color fading from the tips by keeping your hair moisturized and damage free.
I always get asked, “How long should I wait after coloring to shampoo my hair?” It’s a great question and the best answer I can give is, “As long as you can.” The longer you wait before shampooing the better chance your new color has to settle in. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. Whenever we wash our hair in hot water, it starts to relax and the color molecules from the hair dye can escape much more easily. That’s why we lose a little bit of our color every time we wash our hair. I try to wait as long as I can, post-coloring. I also time my coloring appointment very strategically so I can allow for a few days of not so squeaky clean hair. It’s worth it in the long run.
All shampoos are not created equal! A harsh shampoo can strip the color right of your hair before you rinse the suds from your eyes. Look for shampoos and conditioners that are gentle, color-safe and sulfate free. Sulfates will make your shampoo lather, but they can also strip the color from your hair. They just aren’t worth it. So, read your labels carefully and look for gentle, color-safe and sulfate free.
Knowing that shampooing removes color little by little, it’s a good practice to skip washing your hair whenever you can. Lazy day Saturday? Don’t wash your hair. Remember, the less you wash your hair the longer your color will last. It’s that simple. My favorite trick of the trade is dry shampoo. If you haven’t tried one yet, please do. I prefer the spray kind and simply focus on my roots. The dry shampoo will help to absorb any excess oil and give your hair that bounce it needs to look fresh and clean. Most dry shampoos smell great, too.
I’ve used so many different heating devices on my hair that I’m surprised I haven’t caught fire. Between the blow dryer, the flat iron, the curling iron and hot rollers, my hair doesn’t have a chance. But here’s the thing: we have a protective cuticle layer that surrounds each one of our individual strands of hair. When we color our hair, that protective layer gets stripped away so the dye has the ability to penetrate into the hair and deposit color. Because this protective cuticle is stripped away during the color process, our hair is much more vulnerable to drying out when we use heating devices.
Dry hair can look very flat, and it’s important to keep our tresses hydrated at all times. Because not using these hair styling devices isn’t an option for me personally, I do use a heat protective spray on my hair prior to blow-drying and styling. There are all kinds of protective sprays on the market and they work great. I find it best to spray my hair in sections when styling. They not only keep your hair protected, they impart a nice shine as well.
Have you ever had a vacation moment spoiled because you just didn’t want to get your hair wet? It’s not the water that’s the problem, it’s the chemicals in the pool, like chlorine, that can affect our hair. Chlorine, coupled with the rays of the sun, lead to faded color fast. (I actually bought myself a fabulous swimming cap with sequins on it a few years back. I was hoping to bring back an old trend, but my kids didn’t appreciate my fashion forwardness.)
Bottom line: keep your hair protected. A swimming cap is great as it protects your hair from the water and the sun. Wear a hat at the beach so your hair isn’t fully exposed. There are some UV protection sprays just for hair that can help, too. And if you can’t resist swimming in the pool, apply a strengthening conditioner to your hair before you take the plunge. This will help protect your hair from the chemicals. Out of conditioner? Olive oil will do the job.
Keep in mind that the type of hair color you choose will also dictate just how long your hair will stay looking vibrant. Remember, this is an average of washes. Your shampoo and water conditions will have an effect on the timing for sure.
I’m sure you’ve heard of many other things we can do to stop hair color fading. My hair color preserving tips above are easy enough for everyone, and they don’t break the bank. But I’m always looking for the best colored hair tips—like avoiding products containing alcohol, installing a good water filter in the shower, rinsing with cold water or, better yet, club soda.