How To Protect Colored Hair

Whether a new brunette, blonde, red, black or even blue (there are some pretty extravagant colors out there), it’s a no-brainer that colored hair requires just a tad bit more attention than normal, that is of course, if you want the color to persevere. Nothing beats the frustration of spending the big bucks on some hot-shot salon that gives you the best trending shade on your hair, and then having it fade out in a few weeks, due to lack of consideration. (Been there, done that). To make things simpler for all you beauts, I’ve decided to combine a list of the Do’s and Don’ts when you have colored hair, just so you can steer clear of the downfalls I’ve experienced (and trust me, it’s quite a list).

To start off, let me begin with some simple tips for those of you who haven’t yet colored your hair. That’s right, there are some things to be aware of before you dive into this responsibility.

  • Red Dye is accompanied by color fading: With respect to other colors, red dyes are most susceptible to loss of color. This is because they consist of the biggest molecules, making it difficult for the dye to penetrate more effectively into your hair. This results in a dissipation of color, which is more rapid than other colors due to its size. That said, don’t stay away from red dyes just because of this. Embrace the red head in you, but ensure that your hair stylist uses high-definition color that will not be as stressful for your cuticles.
  • Post-coloring, leave your hair un-shampooed for at least 72 hours: Coloring hair equates to the cuticle layer being opened up, so that the color can seep into the hair shaft more efficiently. Washing hair right after your appointment could result in the swifter color loss. In other words, the big bucks are washed down the drain. On an average, it takes about 2-4 days for these cuticles to close up, so best to put off washing your hair until then. Of course, that’s not an option for most, but it’s crucial to know that the longer you wait to shampoo your hair, the better. This means more time for the color to seep into your cuticles.
  • When coloring your hair, ask your stylist for a no-ammonia hair color: Apart from the no-ammonia hair color formula, a pre-softening technology exists, that is blended in with this formula to render a very effective, long gray-covering result. Go for this, to hide the grays for longer.

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Now here are some of the tips, post-coloration:


  • Try to shampoo your hair less frequently: I know what you’re thinking: GROSS. It’s not what I mean. If you’re one to wash your hair on a daily basis, this could negatively affect your color-treated hair. In order to preserve the natural oils that condition your colored hair, try to reduce your shampooing days to maybe twice or thrice a week. This not only helps retain the color, but further promotes maintain health.
  • Stay away from Sulphate shampoos and conditioners: Okay, listen up lassies! I know this sounds like a major responsibility, to change your shampoo and condition post-coloration, but if you want your hair to look good, it’s best to incorporate these tips into your lifestyle. Sodium sulphate is an anionic detergent that is used in many personal care products; it’s essentially what helps produce foam in shampoos and conditioners. While this seems like a useful addition, it’s actually a foe to colored hair. Using sulphates would mean extracting natural oils and moisture from your hair, further leading to affecting the color. Hence, it’s best to get sulphate-free shampoos, in order to help retain the color. L’oreal has some amazing choices out there, for all hair types, be it frizzy, thin, straight or curly.
  • Avoid hot water while shampooing: This might be my least favorite tip, ever. Only recently discovered, I realize just how significant its effect is on colored hair. Now, this does mean kissing goodbye to those long, hot showers, but trust me, it’s worth the loss. Hot hair washes result in the cuticles being opened, which as we know by now, results in fading of hair color. This doesn’t mean you have to wash your hair with freezing cold water either. Lukewarm to warm water should do. Ensure however, that post-conditioning, you rinse your hair off with cold water. I know this sounds pretty absurd, but hear me out: the warm water will activate the shampoo and conditioner to seep through your cuticles and wash it thoroughly; the cold water will extend moisture from the conditioner to reach your hair, without compromising on the color preservation, as it seals the hair cuticles. HOW COOL IS THAT?
  • On your off-days, pertain to dry shampoo: On days when you get lazy to wash your hair (even though you had plans to), go with dry shampoos. Obviously, right after ensuring that they are color-safe. This is probably my favorite tip ever, because 1) you don’t have to go through the trouble of actually washing your hair with warm, and then cold water and 2) it does miracles to your hair. It extends a refreshing appeal, while making it seem as though you just got a blowout, even though you didn’t even wash your hair. I use a color-tinted dry shampoo that helps revamp my hair. It’s a more convenient and cheaper option.
  • Use leave-in conditioners and treatments to protect your color-treated hair: Leave-ins are usually not my way to go, but believe it or not, it does wonders. Colored hair (and other chemically treated hair) requires constant moisturizing. These leave-ins provide hydration and also prevent damage from the sun, which results in extra loss of nutrients from the hair. Not only does leave-in keep your hair moisturized and smooth, it protects it from the harmful UV rays that further leads to fading of hair color.

[ Read: How To Improve Your Hair Texture ]

Product Usage Must Change

The products you use on your hair, post-coloration has a huge impact on your hair. What you put on it will affect your hair in the long run, and as dyed hair requires special attention, I’d recommend investing in salon-approved products that are formulated particularly for hair color. Not only will this help retain your hair, and add on to its glow, it’ll also promote volume and luster to it.

  • Use only the best shampoo on your colored hair: I remember going to a salon, and the stylist giving me a bewildered expression when I told him I continued to use the same shampoo I used before coloring my hair. It’s true; when you wash colored hair, you must ensure that you use color-protecting shampoo. This will help retain your color for longer and also contribute to its health in the long run.
  • Condition your hair after each time you shampoo: When you do shampoo, ensure that your color treated hair is conditioned right after. From the tips above, you remember what temperatures of water to use during each process. The conditioner you use also plays an important factor in the health of your hair; ensure that it is color-protecting. Well-conditioned hair not only promotes a shinier exterior, but also equates to healthier hair. Condition the tips of your hair the most, because these are the oldest hairs on your head.

[ Read: How To Choose The Right Toner For Highlighted Hair ]

At-home remedies to retain your hair color

Egg Mask To Treat Hair Loss

So what happens once your hair is colored; what steps do I take to ensure the beauty of it is intact for longer? This is usually what people have asked me, and honestly, more than just maintaining the color, it’s crucial to ensure that your hair health is optimized. Apart from regular color-protecting shampoo and conditioner, use some at-home remedies or treatments:

  • Apply a hot oil treatment on your color-treated hair: Boy, that’s a lot of “treatment”, am I right? Hot oil treatments, however, are known to be a real boon to your hair, even without coloration. It provides an indisputable sheen to your hair. Apply the treatment oil on your dry hair, and tie it up with a plastic wrap or shower cap. Apply heat to this, either using a blow dryer or a hot towel. I personally take this opportunity to bask away in the sun, because I love me some tan. But this doesn’t have to be everyone’s first preference. After this, allow your hair to cool down to room temperature, post which you may rinse it off with cold water.
  • Keep note of your diet: That’s right, eat healthy to retain healthy hair. In other words, the best version of your hair can be maintained with just the right diet. You’d be surprised how effective the nutrients from a healthy diet can provide the right growth and luster to your hair. What then, are some of the foods most ideal for healthy hair promotion? Iron-rich protein foods help keep your scalp healthy, and build strong keratin for your hair. This protein is known to extend strength to your hair, improve on its texture and kindle growth. Advice then? Go for lean meats, egg whites, soy, spinach, low-fat cheese in order to keep your colored-hair looking its best.
  • Supplements definitely contribute to maintaining the health of your color-treated hair: I understand your chagrin, all this work, just for maintaining your hair? Truth is, vitamins play a vital role in keeping color-treated hair healthy and shimmery. Let’s see how: Vitamin B helps strengthen weak hair, and work on improving the texture. Biotin is the most essential B Vitamin that contributes to this, and can be found in carrots, sardines, salmon and yolks. Vitamin C on the other hand, helps maintain the blood circulation in the scalp, and supports the hair follicles. Particularly for those that are not keen on eating, aka, their diet lacks, ensure you take your vitamins to keep your hair healthy and strong.

[ Read: How To Prepare Egg Mask To Treat Hair Loss ]

Some of the Don’ts on color-treated hair:

  • Stay away from Heat: You can kiss goodbye to blow drying or straightening your hair, if you wish to keep your hair healthy and strong. Additionally, if your hair is dyed, chances are it is more susceptible to damage. Whenever possible, let your colored-hair dry out naturally. A tip to dry your hair faster would be to sit under a fan. If however you wish to use a blow dryer, after using your color-protecting shampoo and conditioner, you may apply the heat protecting applicant on your hair prior to it. Also, try using the blow dryer on the lowest heat setting, or if your blow dryer has a cool blast setting, use that.
  • Don’t skip out on your regular trims: This tip is particularly applicable to those that have damaged hair already. If your dried hair is naturally frizzy, I’d recommend regular cuts and trims in order to retain your color-treated hair looking its best. Ensure that it remains frayed at the ends; doesn’t have to be a really short cut.
  • Steer clear of Chlorine: This is applicable to all the swimmers in the house, who spend a good amount of their day in swimming pools. Try wetting your hair and use leave-in conditioner in it before exposing it to the water in swimming pools. This is to combat chlorine related damage to your hair. Chlorine is actually responsible in causing lighter hues to take form (sometimes, an ugly green color). Of course, you could also use a swim cap to prevent this from happening.
  • Go for products with UV protection to protect your colored locks: It’s hard to avoid the sun, and there’s no doubt that it can cause serious color fading to your hair. First off, try to minimize long exposures to the sun. If this is not possible, use products that contain UV protectors. Leave-in conditioners, hairsprays etc have SPF in them.

With these tried and tested tips you can protect your colored hair from the elements and keep it soft, long lustrous and strong all year long.