Hair Color is a 50/50 Partnership
Hey all! This month I thought I would bring you a PSA about something near and dear to my heart....hair color!
Above everything, I consider myself a colorist at heart. Every day I get to co-create with clients, anywhere from covering greys to updating their look to complete and total makeovers. At a basic skill level, my goal is to make your color last, that at 6/8/12 weeks later the only thing that's bothering you is that pesky grow out...and not a funky fade.
With that being said, so much of how your hair color wears has to do with home care: shampoo habits, the products used, the temperature of hot tools, etc.
Creating and maintaining a salon color truly is a 50/50 partnership!
So let's dive in to the tips, tricks, and recommendations that you can use at home to ensure your color is gorgeous, healthy, and vibrant from appointment to appointment.
First of all, please don't wash your hair for at least 48 hours after a color service. Even though your hair is dry and styled, the color is still being absorbed into the cuticle (outer shell of the hair strand) -- especially if your stylist used a gloss/toner/demi-permanent color. Sometimes it can take up to two weeks for the cuticle to close! Hair that has been bleached will always have a swollen cuticle, which means it will never completely close. Open cuticles allow color molecules to leave the hair during a shampoo, creating a faded color.
And speaking of shampoos...is yours sulfate-free & color-safe? I promise, it matters! Sulfates are the ingredient that creates tons of sudsy, soapy lather -- great for that "clean" feeling, but BAD for the color! Non-color safe shampoos have a high pH, which raises the alkalinity of the hair, opening the cuticle. Open cuticle + scrubbing bubbles = instant fade! We need to ensure that the cuticle stays closed (with a low pH product) that employs a cleansing substance that removes oil and product without scouring out your color. This is why every hairdresser harps about using sulfate-free, color-safe shampoos.
So then do conditioners need to be sulfate-free and color-safe too? Because conditioners don't lather and by design have a low pH, you can buy one that says they're color safe, but they all already pretty much are. My advice is, "Shampoo for your color, condition for your texture."
I recommend using the lowest pH (or acidic) conditioner or mask that you can find. Low pH substances close the cuticle, keeping all of your gorgeous color molecules inside your hair shaft where they belong!
And I know it seems crazy for me to say this, but please use conditioner following every shampoo. Every shampoo. Only apply to your mid-lengths and ends if you're worried about greasy or flat hair. We need to shut that cuticle down to keep your color in!
Attention fashion color folks: you get a different set of guidelines. Regardless if you have a full head or just some fun pieces, this pertains to you! Fashion colors work differently than traditional hair dye, they do not penetrate the cuticle (it's a lot of hair science and chemistry -- I'd be happy to explain it, but for right now, just trust me) -- they only coat the hair. You will only get so many shampoos out of your color, and every time you wash it, it will fade. Intense shades get more shampoos (20-25) before they're gone, pastels (because of a weaker dye load) get substantially less.
Shampooing as infrequently as possible will ensure vibrancy and keep those pastels where they're supposed to be.
Please only touch your hair in arctic-temperature water. I'm not kidding. Frigid water keeps the cuticle closed.
If you have fun, vibrant pieces intermixed with a "natural" color -- and if that color is light or bleach was used to achieve it -- using even warm-ish water will cause the fashion color to bleed onto your lighter hair. So instead of a purple-and-blonde look, you now have a purple-and-lavender head of hair. Which is pretty, but may not be necessarily what you were going for.
EXTRA BONUS TIP: Manufacturers have gotten wise to the fashion color trend and have now created color-depositing conditioners. These will ensure that any possible fade from your color-safe, sulfate-free shampoo will be mitigated with the infusion of conditioning pigment. Please let me recommend brands I trust and the shade that will jive best with your rocking new palette.
One last thing about shampoos before I get off my soapbox (SO PUNNY)....If you are a blonde, please please be sure to use a violet/purple toning shampoo. The Salem-area water is terrible (see the July blog) and will 100% make your blonde brassy. Purple tones cancel out yellow (again, trust me -- it's color theory) and will keep you light, bright, and true to tone.
If you have blond highlights intermixed with lowlights, using a sulfate-free, color-safe violet shampoo is paramount for color preservation. This keeps your cuticle closed so that your lowlight does not 1) release color molecules, which then 2) gets lathered with your blonde, and then 3) sucks up the released dye (because open cuticle), and finally 4) is all rinsed with brass-causing water.
Ever have a highlight and lowlight service that, when you've returned to the salon, the dimension has become nill and all of your hair looks like a murky, everything-met-in-the-middle blah-ness? It was the shampoo.
EXTRA TIP! There are some amazing violet toning conditioning masks out on the market -- think of these as purple shampoo on steroids. Using these once or twice a week -- especially for my platinum folks -- will keep your hair Khaleesi/Elsa white!
EXTRA EXTRA TIP FOR BRUNETTES: do you also go brassy? I bet you do (thanks Salem water). Several hair care lines are now making brass-busting products for us! Using either a blue or teal pigment in the shampoo, conditioner, and toning mask will keep the dreaded red-orange fade away.
I know for all of you daily washers this is going to be blasphemy, but please don't shampoo every day. Or ever every other day. Even with the best products available, super frequent shampooing is literally washing your color down the drain.
I know oily scalp and flat hair is a real thing, but please consider using a dry shampoo. They've come so far, many are specific to your cleansing/hair color needs, and some are even made without powder (sorcery!). And after about 6 months or so, the sebaceous glands in your scalp will be retrained to not produce as much oil (because it's not getting constantly washed away). I promise you will feel clean, I can help with with a post-workout-sweaty-scalp strategy; let me recommend a dry shampoo that I think might work best for you!
Finally, turn that heat down! Using your hot tools at higher temperatures not only damages your hair, but ruins your color. If you have bleached hair, please turn down your curling/flat iron a couple of notches -- and if you're rocking fashion color, take it down even farther. I promise you will still style just fine!
Using a hot tool without a heat protecting serum will result in scorched hair, and the only intervention for that is a haircut (nope, Olaplex can't even fix that). Extreme heat absolutely fries out artificial hair color and will literally make fashion color disappear from the hair -- I've watched it happen. I bring up using heat protectants all the time because it matters. Turning down the heat and using a serum (not a spray) will protect the integrity of your hair as well as the investment in your color.
What do you think about all of this -- how many of these suggestions did you know, which ones were brand new?
I'd love to know if this post was helpful and if doing more like this one would be something you'd be interested in.
Give a comment down below, or maybe even share it on your social media! Let's get the word out and help everyone make sure their hair color is always...