Coloring your hair can be a time-consuming (and expensive!) process. After spending hours DIY-ing or dropping a small fortune at the salon, the last thing you want is for that gorgeous shade to fade too soon. So, how do you keep it looking fresh and fabulous for as long as possible?
To preserve your hue, you’ll need to pamper your hair a bit. That means adding extra protection from everyday stressors like water, shampoo, heat and sun, as well as nourishing hair with plenty of hydration. Color maintenance takes more attention and care, but it’s worth it to maximize those beautiful results. Let’s dive into the details of how to protect and prolong your color treatment.
How long does hair dye last?
The lifespan of your color treatment depends first and foremost on the type of dye you use.
Temporary hair dye is your quick fix—it fades after one or two shampoos. Temporary dyes have a super short lifespan since they sit on the surface of your hair vs. penetrating the hair shaft. It’s a low-maintenance, low-commitment move—the kind of stuff you get for Halloween or to touch up roots between salon appointments.
Semi-permanent hair dye is still temporary but designed to last a bit longer. Semi-permanent formulas deposit pigment onto the hair’s surface, changing the hair’s tone rather than its color (you may hear them referred to as stains, glosses, or toners). They wash out after four to 12 shampoos.
Demi-permanent hair dye is similar in formula to semi-permanent dye, but it penetrates through the first layer of the hair cuticle, so the color is slightly absorbed into your hair. It lasts around 12 to 24 shampoos.
With permanent hair dye, you’re locked in long-term—at least until you grow out, chop off or re-color your dyed strands. Permanent dye uses chemicals like ammonia, hydrogen peroxide or bleach to permanently lighten or darken hair. The chemicals penetrate the hair’s cuticle to alter the melanin (pigment that gives hair color) in your strands. Because these formulas change the actual structure of your hair, the color won’t wash out, but it will fade and/or change tone over time with wear and tear.
Knowing your dye type will give you a general idea of when you’ll need a touch-up or redo.
How to make your hair color last longer
Whether you’re rocking freshly bleached hair, lowlights or balayage, these 10 tips will help you fight fading and keep your color brighter, longer.
1. Wait at least 72 hours before showering post-treatment.
It’s important to give your hair time to seal in the color so it doesn’t wash out too quickly.
2. Use color-toning shampoos + conditioners.
These pigmented products cancel out unwanted yellow, orange or red tones that can show up in colored strands over time. Purple Shampoo and Purple Conditioner are must-haves for lightened locks, which tend to turn brassy yellow over time. They deposit violet pigments that neutralize yellow ones so that your shade remains vibrant and true to its intended color. Here’s more on how purple shampoo works.
3. Stick to color-safe products.
“Color-safe” means a product has been deemed free of harsh chemicals that cause color fading. Sulfates are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to stripping color, so look for sulfate-free shampoos.
4. Space out your shampoos.
Spreading out wash days will help you preserve your color longer. Keep a good dry shampoo handy for the in-between time. A texturizing spray can also help boost volume and revive limp locks between shampoos.
5. Skip the hot water.
Hot water opens up the hair’s cuticle, which lets color leak out. Before rinsing your hair, turn the temp to lukewarm. Cool or cold water is even better if you can handle it—and it’s healthier for your skin, too!
6. Max out the moisture.
7. Boost shine and protection with a hair oil.
A lightweight hair oil can help to seal in moisture and add an extra layer of protection for color longevity. It also adds shine that’ll make your hue look brighter and healthier.
8. Protect against chemicals and minerals.
We’re talking about the ones that come out of your shower head (hard water), your pool (chlorine) and the ocean (saltwater). All of them can lead to unwanted tones in your color-treated strands, and they’re just plain harsh on hair in general.
To protect against hard water, consider installing a shower head filter. Using a hair mask after you shower can also help offset hard water’s drying effects.
You can minimize how much chlorine or saltwater your hair absorbs by saturating it in regular water before you take a swim. It’s that simple: just wet your hair in the sink or shower before you jump in the pool or sea.
9. Use UV protection.
It can be as easy as throwing on a hat, a scarf or wrap when you’re going to be out and about.
10. Scale back on heat styling.
Heat styling can fade color, so opt to air dry as much as possible. If you must heat style, try turning down the temp to reduce damage, and always use a heat protectant.