Did you know that we hairdressers can tell a lot about your home care regimen by the condition (both color and health) your hair returns to the salon 4/6/8/12+ weeks later?
When folks visit me at the salon, I believe you're loaning me your hair for the next couple of hours. As much as I can work magic (both color and repairative) in my chair, you have your hair much more than I do. Which means how you treat it at home is equally important (if not more so) than what happens in the salon!
Above all things, healthy hair is the most beautiful -- regardless of the shade or if it's natural or enhanced.
Hair color (and salon visits) can be a substantial financial investment. I promise we stylists aren't trying to up-sell our tickets by asking about your what products you're using and how often. We want you to preserve your investment for the long haul.
And funny enough, often salon hair care purchases end up being less expensive than drug store alternatives. Why? Look at the back of the bottle. Drug store brands often list "aqua" as their primary ingredient. Those products are very diluted and have very little product in the product.
Meaning it takes more of what's in the bottle to do the task you purchased it for. Salon products are ultra concentrated, so it takes far less to perform substantially better. For instance, it would be the difference between buying a bottle of Herbal Essences at Walmart shampoo every other month ($7.97 x 6 = $47.82) and two bottles of VERB's Ghost shampoo for the whole year ($18 x 2 = 36).
So let's talk about my best at-home recommendations that will ensure your color (and hair in general) 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 a toner or gloss was used. This is why I always use Color Wow's Dream Coat on my guests during their blowouts; on top of the crazy softness and high shine that last for three shampoos, it help to repel scalp oils. Most folks are able to extend that first post-salon shampoo by at least a couple of days thanks to the Dream Coat -- so call it my secret extra insurance to make sure you don't wash until those critical 48 hours have passed.
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 are 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 goes on and on 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 general advice is to shampoo for your color but condition for your texture. My personal shampoo and conditioner at home don't match -- both in brand as well as "task." I need a very color safe shampoo and a conditioner that is ultra hydrating for color-treated, grey, long, wavy hair.
So I am officially giving you permission to not have matchy-matchy products in your shower!
Let's talk conditioner vs conditioning masks. Conditioners are very lightweight and are best used by folks who shampoo daily (please don't) who aren't color treated, don't heat style much, would be considered fine hair, and that isn't too wavy/curly. I have the feeling that most of us don't fit into this category, LOL!
Conditioning masks are thicker, have a higher lipid content than conditioners, and have a substantially lower pH than conditioners. Why is this important? Shampoos have a higher pH value (often between 7-9) that's necessary to cleanse the hair -- we need a product with the lowest pH possible close the cuticle back down to keep all of your gorgeous color molecules inside your hair shaft where they belong!
If you're lucky, your regular conditioner has a pH of about 5; many deep conditioning masks go as low as 3.5!
My recommendation is to eliminate your use of regular conditioner and only use deep conditioners, especially if you wash 1-3 times per week. Your hair is thirsty and is craving the moisture!
Pro tip: leave that deep conditioning mask on for 30 minutes at least twice a month. Is it a bit of an inconvenience? Yes, but I absolutely promise your hair will feel amazing, look healthier, and will prevent hefty trims at your salon appointments.
Finally, let's talk treatments.
Do you need to do one? The short answer is yes. If your hair is chemically treated (especially lightened), curly, frizzy, long, and/or mixed in with greys, it's doubly important to make sure you're doing them.
Treatments are not the same as using a deep conditioner; those replenish moisture, these guys do internal repair work and reverse damage.
I personally love both Olaplex and K18, each one address two very different issues. Olaplex reconnects broken disulfide bonds (broken due to chemically processing or over heat/mechanical styling). If you're seeing roots but just can't seem to gain any additional length, weekly combination No 0 + No 3 treatments can work miracles.
I also love that their entire line contains Olaplex repairative technology. I mean, you've gotta wash/condition/use styling products anyway -- why not use ones that repairs internal damage while doing those things?
K18 works a bit differently. Those folks have found out how to mimic the 18 amino acids that make up human keratin (hence the name) and will instantly repair any external damage done to the hair. This smooths and softens hair, reduces frizz, keeps long hair (thin-to-coarse) structurally strong, and will improve the texture of naturally curly hair.
The upshot of K18 is that is reduces any sort of multi-step treatment process -- but it does require the addition of a specific shampoo in order to be most effective.
The upshot of Olaplex? Their entire line contains Olaplex repairative technology. I mean, you've gotta wash/condition/use styling products anyway -- why not use ones that repairs internal damage while doing those things. On the flip side, you'll need to allocate little extra time on shampoo day to sneak in your treatments.
And yes, you absolutely can do both treatments! Because both address different issues, your hair would love both some K18 and a little Olaplex love.
Now that we've covered cleansing, hydrating, and treating your hair, next month we'll be talking all about the dos and don't of styling! If you've got any questions, be sure to send them my way so I can cover them next month.
And if you're needing a personalized recommendation of a shampoo/conditioner/deep conditioning mask/treatment, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can make some suggestions!