I get asked about my hair a lot. I get asked about the color that’s in my hair, how I get it so vibrant, and what products I use. But more than anything else, I get asked about how quickly it fades, and if there are any ways to prevent it from washing out.
I use semi-permanent hair dyes, and as the name implies, the color isn’t meant to last forever. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take measures to make it last as long as you possibly can. Using some methods I’ve learned along the way, I am able to stretch the color as far as I can, which usually means hanging onto it until my roots are ready for a touch up. These are a few ways you can keep hair color from fading.
- Don’t wash your hair every day. This is something you probably shouldn’t be doing regardless of whether your hair is color-treated or not. The chemicals in our water is bad for our hair, and so are the products. Washing your hair too frequently can dry it out, so even if your hair doesn’t have color in it, I don’t recommend washing it every day. I wash my hair with shampoo every three to four days, and if I need a wash before then, I’ll do so only using conditioner. For reference, I have very oily skin. When I first stopped washing my hair every day, I thought I would have issues with dirty-looking hair. Thankfully this wasn’t the case. To my surprise, I actually stopped producing as much oil along my scalp. And conditioning in between full wash days is enough to remove any oily residue that might occur from a workout or humid day.
- Wash your hair with cold water. And I do mean cold. Not luke warm, not cooler than your normal temperature but still with some heat, but pure cold water. I know this can be difficult at first, but if you want to keep the color in your hair, this is very important. Hot water will make the color bleed right down the drain. If you aren’t used to using cold water in the shower, you can start off by washing your hair in the kitchen sink. I have a hand-held sprayer in my kitchen sink, and I used to wash my hair with it first, then take a hot shower. After a few weeks of this, I got tired of the two-step process, and just learned to deal with the initial cold in the shower instead. But the sink is a good way to at least get your head used it if you aren’t ready to jump straight to the cold shower.
- Use sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfate-free shampoos are made without sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). These ingredients are what make your shampoo sudsy, but they also strip your hair of oils, as well as any dye. So while using a sulfate-free shampoo is good for your natural hair, it’s especially good for color-treated hair. I use Enjoy hair products, but they can be kind of pricey, and you have to order their products either online or through a salon. For something fairly inexpensive, and available at your local drug store, I’ve had good experiences with L’Oreal’s EverPure line of products. If you’re not sure if a shampoo is sulfate-free or not, just check the ingredients for SLS or SLES. Just because the label says “for color-treated hair” doesn’t mean it’s sulfate-free.
- Add dye to your conditioner. This helps add in a little extra color with every wash. It won’t make it feel like a fresh dye every time you wash your hair, but it does help keep it from fading as quickly. Keep an extra bottle of dye in your shower, and when you condition your hair, add a small dollop of dye into the conditioner, then mix into your hair. Leave it in your hair as long as possible (also good for conditioning), and then rinse as you normally would. And don’t forget to use cold water!
- Stay away from the heat. This includes both the sun and your hair dryer. The UV rays from sunlight fade your hair, so if you have any type of leave-in conditioner or protective spray with UV shielding, use this before you go out in the sun. And as for your hair dryer, use the low heat setting if possible, and always use a protective spray on your hair before you point the dryer at it or use a curling or flat iron.
Collectively, this can seem like a lot of work to keep the color in your hair. But think about how much of a pain it is to get your desired hair color to begin with. It’s a lot of work! So whatever I can do to keep the color in, I’m more than willing to do so. To me it simply means less time having to apply it, and more time enjoying it.