When does dyed hair begin to fade?
It’s important to note that hair color begins to fade four to six4-6 weeks after first getting it dyed. This is true for most hair colors, though Lauren Paglionico, master colorist and founder of Lrn Beauty, says using a box dye moves up the timeline.
“Box color is not formulated as professional color. It is very concentrated and high in ammonia, which can be damaging to the cuticle,” says Paglionico, adding that darker hues—like black and brown—are the hardest to get out. “It’s key that hair color be customized as everyone has different needs due to their hair type and chosen color.”
1. Heading to the salon? Consider balayage
The next time you decide to switch up your hair color, consider getting balayage—a great option for those who are low-maintenance when it comes to haircare.
“Some people who have balayage only have to color their hair once or twice a year,” says Paglionico, adding: “The best way to extend your balayage is to use a hydrating, color safe shampoo and conditioner.”
2. Hold off on shampooing as long as you can
“I tell my clients to try to avoid cleansing their freshly-colored hair for at least three days. This helps the color really settle into your strands and minimizes washout,” says Candy Diaz, a New York City stylist. Diaz also says you should try to wash hair as infrequently as possible—period—to extend the life of your color, as there is unavoidable fading every time your hair is cleansed.
3. Use dry shampoo before bed
A foolproof way to avoid washing your hair post-dye is by incorporating dry shampoo into your nighttime routine.
“Using dry shampoo before bed is something I often tell my clients that are hot sleepers,” says Nicolette Rauchet, hairstylist at Lrn Beauty. “Dry shampoo is meant to prevent the build up of oil that leads to greasy hair. Moisture and sweat that accumulates while sleeping can make even clean hair look and feel greasy. So, using a dry shampoo can mitigate that problem.”
4. Be picky about your hair products
“When you finally do shampoo your hair, be certain you’re using only shampoos and conditioners for color-treated hair, which are typically gentler and less likely to strip out color molecules,” explains Diaz. At Prose, we skip sulfates in all of our shampoos because they’ve been shown to accelerate color fading—and we create formulas for colored hair with a cocktail of oat oil and sunflower oil to help lock in your new color.
The benefits of sulfate-free hair care
5. Turn down the temperature when washing
Another tip for shampoo time: Try to use lukewarm rather than hot water. The latter can pry open your hair’s outer layer (known as the cuticle), enabling color molecules to rinse out. Diaz also suggests ending every shower with a quick cool rinse. “This seals your hair’s outer layer and prevents color loss and fading later on, during the styling process,” she explains.
6. Scale back on hot tool usage
Similar to steamy water, frequently using a blow dryer and flat or curling iron—especially during the first week after your hair is colored—can also open and damage the hair’s cuticle layer, allowing color molecules to escape. Try to limit hot tool usage to no more than three to four times a week and always prep the hair first with a heat protectant.
7. Always use UV protection
“Applying hair products with UV filters can cut down on color fading and oxidation,” says Diaz. Prose uses karanja and coconut oil to minimize damage caused by the hair’s exposure to the sun.
Paglionico echoes that advice, advising, “If you want your color to stay vibrant, always use products that prioritize UV protection.”
Pro Tip: Wearing a hat when you’ll be outside for an extended period of time (e.g. gardening, lounging at the beach, or watching an outdoor sporting event) is also a smart, color-preserving strategy.
8. Consider installing a shower filter
Minerals and chemicals in water (aka hard water) can stain and strip the hair, impacting the longevity of your salon shade. In general, the harder the water, the greater the risk to your hue. Installing a filter for your home’s water—or just screwing one directly onto your shower head—will help minimize these effects by removing the most common color-disrupting culprits. If that’s not an option, look for hair care ingredients that help remove limescale buildup on strands.
9. Prevent chlorine damaged hair
What’s even worse than hard water? Pool water, says Diaz, as chlorine is notorious for stripping color molecules and leaving behind a greenish tinge. To minimize chlorine’s ability to penetrate your hair, always wet strands in the shower before you get into a pool, says Diaz. “The fresh water will saturate your hair and make it harder for the chlorinated water to get inside your strands,” she explains.
10. Top it off with a hair gloss
Applying a tinted gloss (at a salon or at home) four to six weeks after coloring your hair is a cost-effective way to freshen faded color—and buy yourself a few extra weeks between permanent color appointments.
11. Double-check your medications
“Another thing that can contribute to fading hair color is medication,” adds Gina Rivera, hair artist and CEO of Phenix Salon Suites. This may include statins, antibiotics, and mood stabilizers, among other oral contraceptives. Always consult your doctor and hairstylist for their recommendations.
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