“If I pay for a color, I want it to stay, ya know?” An exact quote from a conversation with a friend recently, but anyone who has ever paid to color their hair (and even if you’re a box color DIYer, you pay for it) has either said or thought these words. Whether you were born to be a redhead (but genetics made you brunette), or you’re convinced blondes have more fun (but the sun just isn’t working fast enough) once you decide on your hair color and invest in it, you want it to last. And really, when you think about it, your hair color IS an investment. The saying goes “you get what you pay for,” but I’d like to rephrase that to, “When you invest in quality, you get quality in return.” If you want your color to last, there are a variety of actions you can take to increase the longevity of your investment.
1. Embrace the idea that water is the enemy.
We’re talking in terms of hair here—you better be drinking that 64+ ounces a day. When it comes to hair color, water is the number one cause of color fade. Why? Short answer: science. Long answer: hair color is essentially a manipulation of the pigment molecules in your hair. Different levels of color work in different ways (Demi, permanent, etc) but ultimately, they all have to do with influencing or altering molecules. Water, particularly hot water, opens the hair cuticle, which allows the color molecules to escape more easily—which is why you see your color draining away into the bottom of your shower. If you want your color to last, reduce the amount that you wash your hair. Invest in a good dry shampoo that will prolong your clean hair, and if you have medium to long hair, learn to work that day three updo (my personal fave trick).
2. While we’re talking water… let’s talk about the COOL factor.
As mentioned above, hot water opens the hair cuticle the most, so washing your hair with cool or cold water will reduce the amount of color leakage (though not eliminate). No matter what, washing your hair is going to lighten or fade the color eventually. That, again, is a matter of science.
3. Rolling with the washing topic… Every shampoo was NOT created equal.
Utilizing a color-safe shampoo is essential for prolonging the life of your color. There’s a variety of ones available—our favorites, of course, are R+Co’s Gemstone, and Oribe’s Shampoo for Beautiful Color. Or for blondes… Oribe’s Bright Blonde Purple Shampoo. When it comes to the topic of shampoo, there’s a lot of terms thrown around that can make the search for the right one confusing. Sulfate-free, clarifying, paraben-free to name a few… but the reality is that you should focus on the quality of the ingredients in your shampoo. Sulfates are what make the suds in cleansing products of all kinds, but like most everything else in life, there are extremely low-quality sulfates (the kind that can irritate your scalp, and can contribute to a quicker loss of color), and there are extremely high-quality sulfates as found in some of Oribe’s shampoos along with other salon-quality brands. Clarifying shampoo is another case of quality DOES count, and sparing use will not have a significant affect on your color. For more info on parabens see this article (http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/08/image/la-ig-beauty-parabens-20110508).
4. Your hair needs sun protection as much as your skin!
Sun darkens skin, but lightens hair, and that includes colored hair. Find a styling product that includes UV protection or buy yourself a really cute pool/beach hat. Just as your skin is damaged when out in the sun for too long with no protection, your hair can be affected in the same way. Not to mention, the term sun-kissed highlights came about due to naturally sun-lightened hair—the sun will do its best to lighten your hair whether colored or not.
5. Speaking of summertime… Chlorine is a chemical and it WILL alter your hair.
Avid swimmer? Live at the pool? If you swim for fitness and have colored hair, embrace the swim cap! Even if you don’t have colored hair… chlorine dries and damages hair, so strongly consider protecting it either way. If you just love to soak in the cool water… pin that hair up on top of your head and keep your head above the water. Refer to preservation tip #1… water is the enemy! Same goes for the beach, even though there’s no chlorine. The more you wet your hair, the more color will have a chance to escape whether there is shampoo involved or not. If you do swim or want to dunk your head, consider investing in a chlorine neutralizer. You can spray this on before, after, or both, and it will work to counter-balance the effects of chlorine.
6. Glazes/Glosses/Toners are your FRIEND.
If you love the shine of newly colored hair, or want your color freshened up without paying for another full on coloring session… ask your stylist about glazing or glossing your hair. Known also as toners, these are non-peroxide sheer colors that can brighten or subtly change your color, along with conditioning your hair. They last approximately 4-6 weeks, and are a great way to prolong the time between highlights or full colors.
7. INVEST in a deep conditioner or masque for your hair.
Coloring or lightening your hair automatically alters it. Remember the manipulation of molecules? Science-y stuff happens no matter what kind of color. Thus, you want to make sure to treat your hair extra well following the color to improve its health. Using a deep conditioner once a week will add some hydration back into your hair, and helping to maintain the health of your hair.
8. Hand-in-hand with deep conditioners, heat protectants keep your hair healthy!
If you style your hair with heat of any kind—blow dryer, straightening iron, curling iron, etc… you should invest in a good heat protectant. This can come in the form of oils or a variety of sprays, and will act as a shield between your hair and the damaging effects of heat. Healthy hair takes color more evenly, so if you color your hair regularly, you want to take the best care possible to ensure your hair is healthy enough to smoothly accept the color treatment.
IN SUMMARY: Prolonging the life of your color requires an investment of more than just the actual color service. By design, color treatments alter your hair—ever heard the phrase “Every action has an equal and opposing reaction”? Coloring your hair requires a “reaction” (see: steps above) to ensure the integrity and health of your hair. If you have any questions about what might be best for YOUR hair… talk to your stylist!! They love to educate clients about the coloring process, and how to extend the life of their work… aka your hair!