If you've recently splurged on a stunning salon hair color, you want to make sure it lasts as long as possible. After all, a great color boosts confidence and can elevate your style, but maintaining that vibrant hue requires some effort.
The longevity of your hair color hinges greatly on the health of your hair. If your locks are in prime condition, your chosen shade will grace your tresses for an extended period. On the flip side, porous or damaged hair tells a different story. In these cases, the hair's outer layer, the cuticle, might be compromised or virtually nonexistent, leaving your hair's inner cortex (i.e. where hair color lives) exposed and vulnerable to color erosion.
It's worth noting that every time you wet your hair, no matter how gently, some fading is inevitable. The extent of this fading is influenced by several factors: The current state of your hair, the quality of the hair dye product you opt for, the haircare products you introduce into your routine, and your overall hair care habits all play significant roles.
That means certain everyday habits that you may think are harmless are stripping that expensive salon hair color, leaving you with dull and lackluster locks.
But First...permanent vs temporary hair color
While permanent hair color can last longer than temporary (or "semi-permanent") hair color, it doesn't last forever. This may seem confusing, but "permanent" means your hair's chemical composition is permanently altered. Not that the vibrancy and color of your hair on day 1 of coloring remains until your hair grows out and is colored again.
Because your hair has been permanently altered, when your hair color fades it will not go back to your natural color. Instead, it will fade leaving behind the exposed underlying color of your hair (e.g. red, orange, yellow, etc). This is why blondes fade to yellow and brunettes fade to a brassy, or orange tone.
To avoid those unwanted tones and help you keep your color looking fresh, avoid these top 10 habits that are stripping your hair:
1. Overwashing Your Hair
Hair color, permanent or semi-permanent, has a lifespan which you can safely coincide with a number of shampoos (i.e. The less often you shampoo, the longer your hair color lasts).
Salon semi-permanent hair color, like toners, can last up to 20 shampoos, while permanent hair color generally lasts 6-12 weeks - depending on the condition of your hair when it's colored, how often you wash it, adn the kind of shampoo and conditioner you use.
Frequent shampooing will wash away your hair color at rapid speed. Try to space out your washes and, most importantly, opt for paraben-free and sulfate-free shampoo.
Dry shampoo can be your best friend between washes.
My fav clean, color-safe dry shampoos
2. HOT WATER SHOWERS
We all love a steamy shower, but hot water is drying and opens up your hair's cuticles, allowing the color molecules to escape. Stick to lukewarm or cooler water when washing your hair, then throw it up in a bun and turn up the heat.
Although...hot water isn't great for your skin either.
3. Using Harsh Shampoos
As I mentioned earier, avoid shampoos containing sulfates, parabens, and other chemicals. Harsh chemicals dry out your hair lifting your cuticle while loosening the color molecules in the hair letting your color slip away with every shampoo. Plus, they throw off your hair's pH. A healthy pH level (between 4.5 and 5.5) means the cuticle is sealed and can protect itself, maintaining moisture, natural oils and hair color.
Look for shampoos labeled "color-safe" or made with natural ingredients to gently cleanse your hair without stripping away the color.
Pro Tip: Medicated shampoos that target scalp issues can strip your color. I recommend using two shampoos if you suffer from dandruff, eczema, or hair loss. Apply medicated shampoos to your scalp only, then use your second sulfate-free shampoo to wash your mid-length and ends.
Also, include a ph-balancing product, like Naturally Drenched Pre-Conditioner Rebalance Treatment, to get your pH functioning at it's best abiity.
Best Color-Safe Shampoos
Skipping conditioner can leave your hair dry and prone to damage. Use a color-safe conditioner, like Oway Color Protection Hair Mask, to help lock in moisture and protect your color-treated strands.
5. Sun Exposure & Tanning Beds
It's common knowledge that UV rays are no friends of our skin, but our skin and hair share some similarities. The only kicker is that when your hair takes a sun beating, it doesn't have the luxury of peeling off and starting fresh in a few days.
Do you ever notice that fabrics exposed to the sun start to fade over time? UV rays are the single largest contributing factor in fading fabrics, carpets and furniture.
Surprise, surprise, the same kind of fading can happen to your hair color when it's exposed to the sun's relentless UV rays. It's something worth keeping in mind whether you're hitting the tanning bed or spending a full day at the beach.
I always recommend shielding your hair with a towel in the tanning bed and wearing a hat when you're soaking up the sun for extended periods. Definitely, always use UV-protective hair products.
These are some of my favorite UV protection products to protect your hair from harsh UV rays while adding softness, shine and frizz control.
UV Protection Leave-in conditioners
6. Chlorine and Saltwater
Swimming in chlorinated pools or salty ocean water is exceptionally drying to your hair. As your hair is dried out, your cuticle is raised leading to loss of moisture and color fadage.
Before you take your next dip, wet your hair down and apply a leave-in conditioner (...and choose one with UV protection above) to create a protective barrier. Even better...tie up your hair and keep it above water.
7. HEAT STYLING WITHOUT PROTECTION
Heat styling tools like blow dryers, brush dryers, flat irons and curling irons not only can strip your hair color but can damage the cuticle, leaving hair dry, frayed, and broken.
Always use products with heat protection and moisture before styling to minimize damage like:
8. Vigorous Towel Drying
Rubbing your hair vigorously with a towel can lead to breakage and color loss. Instead, gently blot your hair to remove excess moisture and choose a microfiber towel or men's t-shirt over terry cloth towels which can damage your hair.
9. Low Quality Styling Products
Styling products are the magic potion for any goal hairstyle; however, styling products made with harsh ingredients can lead to product buildup and color dullness.
Choose conscious (or clean) styling products that hydrate the hair rather than coat it with false shine that sticks to the hair.
Even the most vibrant hair color will fade over time. Schedule regular touch-up appointments at the salon to keep your color looking fresh and vibrant.
Pro Tip: Color-depositing shampoos and conditioners (e.g. purple shampoos, red conditioner) are great to help manage color between appointments, but they will never replace a professional salon color appointment.
In addition to avoiding these damaging habits, consider using color-boosting hair masks or treatments designed specifically for color-treated hair. These products can help revitalize and extend the life of your salon hair color.
Remember, maintaining salon-quality hair color requires a combination of good habits and the right products. By making a few simple changes to your hair care routine, you can enjoy your stunning salon color for weeks to come. Don't forget to consult with your hairstylist for personalized advice on caring for your unique hair color. With a little TLC, your vibrant locks will turn heads wherever you go!
Natalie Palomino is a Master Stylist, educator and Founder of North Authentic. Through advanced education and commitment to her craft, she built a vast clientele providing haircare education and hair services. In 2020, she created North Authentic, a conscious haircare retailer that puts the health of its customers and the planet at the forefront.
All North Authentic products are free of: Sulfates, parabens, EDTA, 1,4 Dioxian, and many more all provided in our Hair Crimes List. While we work with our brands to become even more conscious, we identify additional "Free Of" ingredients on every product page.
Shop "Free Of" ingredient preferences using our Filters. You can also take the North Authentic Hair Quiz to get your personalized hair care prescription of the best products for your hair curl type.