75% of women dye their hair and about half do it at home.
This process doesn’t stop after you’ve completed the dyeing cycle, though. After spending time and money for the perfect shade and application of hair color, it can be disheartening to see that color fade after the first few washes. Personally, I’ve dyed my hair every shade I possibly could and am currently considering adding a subtle streak of purple. After years of painful trial and error, I’ve learned what helps the damage caused by dyeing as well as what helps maintain the color. Here’s a hint: there’s a lot of overlap.
One of the biggest culprits of hair color loss is the water that we shower with. For one, a lot of waters have hard minerals in them that are abrasive to hair. You can combat this by investing in a shower head filter. If that’s not your jam, then think temperature and frequency.
To make your color last, use water that’s close to room temperature and rely on dry shampoo in between washes.
When our hair gets wet (similar to our skin) it opens up and is more vulnerable to whatever we expose it to. For hair that means that each hair shaft expands and the proteins that form a protective exterior shield get weaker in their molecular bonds. Essentially, your hair is defenseless and more vulnerable to breakage and damage. Hot water amplifies this effect, leading to more potential damage and the stripping of dye.
Obviously, the more you wash your hair the more you are exposing it to these effects and allowing the color to strip out. This is great if you want to speed up the wash out process of a bad dye job but most of us are fighting against our color being stripped out. If you can, try to wash hair only 1 - 2 times a week, relying on dry shampoo and styling accessories in between washes.
Okay but here’s the other side of dry shampoos.
A lot of them will lead to product buildup on the scalp which can translate to dry and flaky scalp, limp hair, and even hair loss. At this point it’s recommended to use a clarifying shampoo to get rid of product buildup. This kind of product can lead to stripping of color as well as scalp buildup. The solution to that lies in the products that you are using. Subbing out a regular clarifying shampoo with an apple cider vinegar rinse or a sulfate-free scalp scrub can help you achieve maximum scalp health without stripping color.
When it comes to conditioning, we have a few options. There are the traditional color protecting conditioners which contain vitamins and proteins to strengthen hair, which is what allows the color to keep its vibrancy longer. These basically prolong color stripping. There are also hair masks which function to the same effect but in more concentrated quantities that plunge deeper into each hair to fortify the protein bonds that help keep hair strong, healthy, and pigmented.
If you want an extra boost to your color, you can use a tinting conditioner or mask. These won’t dye your hair but will deposit gentle pigments to amplify your color. These are also great if you want to add more warmth to your hair tone, protect your blonde, or add a playful tint like rose gold. You can also go for a clear gloss that will seal your hair and boost shine, ultimately fortifying against the hair splitting and the color from pouring out. This will not only protect but enhance the healthy appearance of your hair.
As mentioned above, hot water is not the best for hair health and color preservation. I want to expand on that to say that heat, in general, is going to have detrimental effects to our hair. In an era of beachy waves, how can we not be dealing with hot tools? The culprits are not only hair dryers and hot irons, though. The UV rays of the sun as well as the pollution that we are faced with as soon as we step outside wrecks our hair. The solution to that are products that are heat, sun, and/or UV protectants.