4 Ways Your Shower Routine Fades Your Hair Color (and How to Avoid it)
Put down the shampoo.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:13 AM
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Our obsession with good hair knows no limits. Ah, the countless things we do to achieve shiny, healthy locks: from color-altering dye pigments to meticulous scalp exfoliation to deep conditioning while whispering encouraging words (just me on that last one?).
No matter your routine, you’re likely dyeing your hair either at home or in a salon. And that treatment needs to be maintained to look as good in a month as it did the day the color went on.
If not properly taken care of, colored hair can quickly get damaged and dull. “Color-treated hair needs highly specialized care for one simple reason: It’s chemically processed, which means the cuticles have been opened to dissolve the natural pigments,” says French hair master Christophe Robin. “As these cuticles remain open, it’s essential to deeply nourish the hair on a regular basis to close the cuticles and seal in the color.” To keep your color lasting longer and more vibrant, here are four showering mistakes, plus one out-and-about mistake, you might be making on the regular.
You’re Using Sulfates
They sound rather harmless, but they are impacting your hair color quite dramatically. Sulfate-based shampoos tend to over-strip the hair, leaving it very dry and damaged, but they also alter your color. “They can make hair color or keratin fade out faster, so find one that has little to no sulfates,” explains stylist Scott Fabian.
The beauty industry is positively abuzz with this new brand, entirely focused around scalp health. This sulfate-free shampoo is especially clever, with its ability to rebalance the scalp. It’s perfect for color-treated hair, effectively cleansing while also remaining sulfate-free and gentle.
You’re Shampooing Too Often
So you’ve ditched the sulfate shampoo, but that doesn’t mean you can shampoo every day. Washing your hair on the regular, even with the best shampoos, can strip color molecules from the follicle, making them fade much quicker. Aim for every other day or even twice a week if possible. And always make sure the water temperature is lukewarm; high heat can open up the cuticle and strip color too.
If you want to prevent yourself from the urge of washing your hair, throw on a very chic shower cap. We’re a bit (okay, very) partial to this flashy pop of red with its hypnotic pattern.
You’re Not Using a Gloss
It’s perfectly normal for hair to dull with time, but that doesn’t mean you have to lay down without a fight. Refresh hair in between salon visits with a quick, in-shower gloss. These clear glosses create a protective shield over the hair, boosting vibrancy and enhancing shine.
This ammonia-free version leaves locks practically radiating for up to six weeks. It’s similar to what salons use, but it’s readily available at your local Target. Slather it on wet hair, let it soak in for up to 20 minutes, and then shampoo and condition as usual.
You’re Not Masking
Color molecules naturally oxidize with time, and that’s where the magic of color-enhancing masks step in. If you aren’t using one, you’re missing out. For blondes, you probably cherish your beloved purple shampoos and masks, which can turn dull and brassy tones into bright, shiny hair in a single treatment. That magic is available for all shades, too. These color pigments boost your existing color with a slight tint, while also providing much-needed nourishment and moisture to lackluster locks and they can extend your color for an additional few weeks too.
A mask is much more potent than any color-boosting shampoo because it sits on the hair for a longer period of time. This formula—available in a variety of tones (from blonde to chestnut to copper)—actually gifts a bit of color, too, which will wash out in about five shampoos. To really get the most bang for your buck, shampoo hair, turn off the water, towel dry your locks, and massage in the mask. Tie your hair up into a ponytail, let it sit for up to 30 minutes, rinse out well, and enjoy your mini color boost.
You’re in the Sun Too Much
Not only can the sun wreak havoc on skin, but it can also alter your hair color, making it fade and oxidize much faster. Grab a hat or scarf and wrap it around your locks. Also: Don’t forget sunscreen—yes, sunscreen. Your scalp can not only burn, but your hair can become dull from excessive sun.
This powdered option is as if sunscreen and dry shampoo had a baby. It not only refreshes oily hair, but it also protects the scalp and color with SPF 45. You can also reapply as needed throughout the day.
Keep your hair healthy: 5 Things a Hair Growth Scientist Wants You to Stop Doing 6 Things That Cause Your Hair to Fall Out (and How to Avoid Them) The $10 French Secret to Covering Those First Gray Hairs