Ingredients that can enhance your color and prevent fading
While the smartest next step for a fading professional dye job would be to get a color refresh, unfortunately, that’s could be a bit difficult at the moment. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to help prevent your color from fading so fast. When on the hunt for a new shampoo, conditioner, or any other hair care product, look for ingredients that include antioxidants, like sunflower oil (rich in vitamin E) and grape seed extract (rich in polyphenols/flavonoids), to “protect hair from the damaging effects of free-radicals generated by heat, UV, and metals,” explains Mignon. Additionally, botanical oils rich in phospholipids and essential fatty acids like oat oil are “able to restore the lipid structure and resistance of the hair, thus helping to decrease the color wash-out,” said Mignon.
Although they’ve been mistakenly dubbed as “bad-for-your-hair” ingredients by some, silicones actually help to coat the hair shaft, preventing dyes from washing away, and are actually not harmful to the hair. If you live somewhere where hard water gushes out of your shower head, “you’ll want to look for anti-hard water agents (like phytic acid and tetrasodium glutamate diacetate) to prevent the formation of calcium precipitates and to help restore shine,” says Mignon.
Hair care ingredients to try and avoid
There can be a lot of nasty, toxic ingredients found in haircare, but there are three specifically that can wreak havoc on your color if used too often. First, sulfates in shampoos, including sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate (not to be confused with sodium lauroyl sarcosinate), might be too strong on your locks and could strip the color from your strands.
Another unexpected way hair color can become stripped includes using a hair care product that has a pH higher than an 8. “A high pH level can increase hair porosity and lead to easier color wash-out,” explains Mignon. Additionally, if your product contains a lot of alcohol, you’re bound to experience a color fade as well as dry, brittle strands, too. “Alcohol is a great solubilizer for dyes and helps them wash away,” says Mignon.
Going beyond ingredients—other tips for avoiding color fade
You may not realize it, but the quality of your water could be stripping your hair color fast. “Hard water can lead to a duller color, water with high levels in metals (like copper and iron) can also oxidize and damage dyes, and chlorine levels (which have been increasing during the coronavirus lockdown) can lead to drier hair that’s more prone to dyes washing-out,” explains Mignon. To find out if your water is ruining your color, you need to test it first with a water test strip. Then, if you discover that your water is on the harder side, consider purchasing a water softener to recover color shine.
If you can, avoid shampooing too often, as the dye molecules used to color your hair are very sensitive to water and shampoos, and the less they are exposed, the better. Consider applying a hair pre-shampoo mask, like the Prose pre-shampoo hair mask, before shampooing to protect color treated hair from damaging shampoos.
Also, try not to comb your hair too much. “Hair is very sensitive to friction and can get damaged if it’s always tied in the same way, brushed or combed too hard, or very tangled,” says Mignon. “Damage due to friction can lead to color fade.” To prevent this, brush your hair gently at least once a day to prevent tangles, change your style regularly to avoid exposing friction to the same exact area of hair everyday, and apply a leave-in conditioner, curl cream or hair oil regularly to shield your hair and avoid friction.
Last but not least, avoid using hot tools on your hair too often, as “applying heat directly on hair is damaging the amino-acids in the hair, and one of the consequences is the formation of free-radicals,” explains Mignon. “Free-radicals are very unstable and are reactive molecules that can destroy and damage hair dyes.” If you are going to use a hair straightener or curler, make sure to apply a heat primer before (like our leave-in conditioner) to decrease the free-radicals formation. Additionally, always use hair care products that contain antioxidants, which can help stabilize free-radicals and stop the damaging chain reaction.