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How to Keep Your Color-Treated Hair Looking Fresher, Longer


Summer is notoriously the toughest season for color-treated hair. Excessive amounts of sunshine, chlorine-filled pools, and more frequent showers all take a toll on everything from pristine balayage to bleach blonde hair. Pair this with the fact that it's currently harder than ever to get a touch up at a hair salon and you have quite a challenge on your hands. But armed with the right information, it's totally possible to maintain and even extend the life of your dye job.

GARNIER celebrity hair stylist and colorist Millie Morales offers some key quick tips right off the bat. "It's best not to shampoo often," she says. "Always remember to use warm to cool water to wash it, always use conditioner, and avoid hot tools–or at least minimize the use of them. I also always apply a heat protector and recommend using a hair sunblock to help the color last longer."

Below, we dive deeper into all these tips and more to help you keep your hair color looking great all summer long.

1. Don’t use shampoo every day (and be selective about which shampoo you use).

There's a reason this tip is at the top of the list. The sad fact is, every time you use shampoo you'll rinse out a little bit of color. There's really no getting around it. The key is figuring out how to lose the least amount of color as possible. The easiest way to do this is obviously to use shampoo sparingly–try to work up to only using it a few times per week. 

The second thing Morales recommends is using a shampoo made specifically for color-treated hair. Blondes (and even some brunettes) may want to look for a purple shampoo, which helps to keep brassy tones at bay. A good rule of thumb is to look for shampoos that are marked as "color-safe". While no shampoo is entirely "color-safe," these are typically made with less aggressive detergents and are gentler on hair treated with hair dye.

2. Use a sulfate-free shampoo. 

Once you have a shampoo in mind, double (triple!) check that it doesn't contain sulfates. These are strong detergents that you're likely to find in a long list of beauty products. In shampoos, they're usually listed as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) on the ingredient label. Because they're so powerful, they can actually end up stripping the hair of its natural oils and will also likely strip color from the hair faster, causing premature fading. Choosing a formula that's sulfate-free will be gentler on the hair and a safer bet overall. 

Check out a few of our favorite sulfate-free shampoos here.

3. Avoid using hot water.

Like Morales mentions above, another important thing to remember when in the shower is to do your best to keep the water temperature as low as possible. Shampooing with hot water will relax the hair cuticle and cause it to open up. This will, in turn, cause more color to wash out. Instead, try shampooing with lukewarm water and then rinse with cool water to seal in moisture and keep color fading from happening. 

4. Use dry shampoo on no-wash days.

Just because it's better to use shampoo less frequently doesn't mean that your hair will get greasy less often (although, it will likely to adjust over time). If you're on a no-wash day and your hair isn't feeling super fresh, try sprinkling or spritzing some dry shampoo on the roots instead of going for a full wash. This will absorb excess oil without rinsing out the color.

Not sure exactly how to use dry shampoo? We have a guide for that. 

5. Don't wash your hair for at least a day after getting it done. 

Another easy way to extend the life of your hair color is to avoid showering for as long as possible after you leave the salon. "You should wait at least 24 to 72 hours to rewash your hair after a color process," Morales says. "That way the molecules of color can adhere to the hair. It definitely affects it if you wash it right away because you are not letting the color settle in."

6. Use heat protectant spray before styling.

As much as we wish it wasn't so, almost all hair dye will weaken the strength of the hair. Heat, unfortunately, is also famously responsible for causing hair damage. When it comes down to it, using too much heat on the hair will damage it further and make it drier, which can cause the color to fade faster. You'll probably still want to use hot tools sometimes, and that's fine! But whenever you do so, make sure you're applying a heat protectant to the hair. Also make sure to use the low heat setting on any hot tools (blow dryer, straightener, curling iron, etc.). 

7. Use leave-in treatments and hair masks. 

Don't underestimate the power that leave-in conditioner and hair masks can do. Both of these products work to restore the damage done by hair dye, bleach, lightener, or heat. When the hair is hydrated and healthy, color molecules will adhere better to the strands and your color will look more vibrant. Personally, Morales loves to use the GARNIER Nutrisse Color Reviver.  

8. Avoid chlorine as much as possible. 

Part of the reason summer is notoriously hard for color-treated hair is because chlorine-filled pools can quickly take a toll on the quality of the color. Chlorine can actually change the hair color. That's why blondes sometimes end up noticing a greenish hue after too much swimming. It can also end up damaging the structure of the hair, leaving it feeling brittle. All in all, too much exposure to chlorine can lead to dry hair and hair color that's left looking dull.

"When you return from the beach or the pool, immediately wash your hair and remove the salt and chlorine that is left behind," Morales says. "These residues, if left in the hair, make the hair lose its color and become dehydrated." Morales adds that this is another ideal time to use leave-in conditioners. A spritz before you go to the pool will help to keep the hair protected for longer. 

9. Use hair products with SPF.

By now, you probably know you need to apply sunscreen to the skin every day. But are you also applying it to your hair? "Just like the skin, hair gets damaged by the sun," says Morales. "Ultraviolet rays produce an effect that seriously alters the elastic properties of the hair. The cuticle deteriorates, leaving the hair fiber without any protection. This way, the hair becomes dry, more fragile, and the melanin–which is responsible for the color–is also altered. This will cause a slight discoloration of the color."

To keep the hair protected, look for hair products that include SPF. We love this scalp and hair mist from COOLA SUNCARE packed with SPF 30.

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About the author
Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
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Article Last Updated July 30, 2020 12:00 AM