How to Keep Your Red Hair Vibrant
Red hair is like a beautiful sunset—in more ways than one. The shade is fiery, gorgeous to look at, but also sort of fleeting. Because of the type of dye pigment, this hair color loses its vibrancy and fades away faster than any other shades. A rich copper can turn into a light strawberry in just a matter of weeks. Why is that? Well, the red dye molecule is larger than other color molecules, and so it doesn’t penetrate as deeply into the hair, which means it washes away more easily. But, luckily, there are ways to minimize the fade. By simply taking a little extra precaution and care you can extend the lifespan of your red hue. Here, our top tips for making red hair color last longer.
Try a gentle wash
Treat your red strands like you would your delicate clothing. Make sure you’re using a color-safe, sulfate-free shampoo, which won’t strip the color from your hair. Sulfates are the stuff that make a shampoo foam, removing dirt and oil. But they can also remove color (as well as your hair and scalp’s natural oils). Aim to find a shampoo that’s formulated without harsh sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and that contains mild cleansers such as cocamidopropyl betaine, derived from coconut oil.
Water temperature matters, too. Wash hair using lukewarm water, not super-hot. Hot water lifts the cuticle layer of your hair, letting the red run out. It’s similar to washing bright clothing in hot water: the colors will bleed. And if possible, try not to wash every single day. Over-washing will cause hair color to fade even faster.
Don’t skimp on conditioner
Conditioner does more than give your hair a silky-smooth feel. It coats your strands, sealing the cuticle layer down, and plugging up any porous spots so those color molecules can’t escape. Apply a hydrating conditioner to strands after every shampoo and use a weekly deep conditioning treatment such as a mask. An ideal conditioner contains mega-moisturizers such as honey, squalane, jojoba and argan oils.
Style smarter not harder
Another factor that can can lift hair’s cuticle layer is heat styling. Before using a blow dryer or flat iron, apply a styling serum designed to seal the cuticle and protect hair from heat damage. Alcohol-based styling products (think hairsprays and gels) are also notorious for dimming hair color, so look for formulas that are labeled alcohol free. Also consider adding a hair oil to your regimen. You can use it on dry ends to add moisture and shine, and, like conditioner, they plug up porous spots in your hair shaft, helping lock in those color molecules.
Stay out of the sun
If there was ever any doubt about sun’s ability to fade things, go check out a brightly-colored couch that’s been sitting in front of a window. Pretty drab, huh? UV rays lighten everything from fabrics to natural hair color, so you can imagine the toll they take on color-treated strands. Dyed red hair fades and can turn orange-y after too much time spent soaking up the sun. To save your strands, wear a tightly-woven, wide-brimmed hat when you’re outside for long periods of time. But don’t forget to protect hair from sneaky sun exposure, too, for example, your open sunroof in your car, your office with a view, etc. Additionally, styling products and treatments that contain UV filters can help safeguard your red strands when you can’t wear a hat. Ingredients that contain natural UV filters include coconut and karanja oils.
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