Make Your Hair Color Last Longer: 14 Tricks From Stylists

Don't wash that color (and $$$) down the drain.

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Take a break before color treatment

iStock/Stephan Zabel

Starting a few days before you go to the salon for your coloring appointment, give your hair a breather from hair products so you can arrive with unwashed hair that’s free of buildup. “You don’t want to wash the night before, but you don’t want an excess of product if you want to help the color penetrate the cuticle and last longer,” says Jason Dolan, hair colorist at Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York City. (Related: Avoid these nighttime habits that ruin your hair.)

Soften your hair before coloring


The one product you will want to reach for? A deep conditioner. Soften your tresses with the treatment a few days before coloring so it’s hydrated when you get to the salon, says Lorean Cairns, co-founder and creative director of Fox & Jane Salon in New York City. “If it’s overly dry or has too many treatments, it might cause bad news and you won’t be able to achieve your Pinterest dream,” she says. “Make sure to keep hair healthy and leave it alone.” (Related: Check out what your hairstyle could reveal about your personality.)

Wait a couple days before washing

iStock/Alexandr Dubovitskiy

After you’ve gotten your color treatment, wait a full day or two before you even think about washing your hair so the dye doesn’t wash out. “Give it a little bit to settle in there and stay in the cuticle,” says Dolan. After 48 hours you can go back to your regular routine, he says. Avoid these absolute worst things you can do to your hair.

Don’t scrub your hair every day

iStock/Djura Topalov

You’ve heard it before: Daily washes actually leave your hair less healthy. “Some natural oils are great for the hair and are most beneficial for hair,” says Cairns. If your hair tends to be dry, you can get away with washing every three days or less, she says, but if you have oily hair or work out daily, you might need to shampoo more often. A dry shampoo can get you through the off days if your scalp is getting oily. Check out these other reasons you can shower less often.

Chill your shower out


A hot, steamy shower could fade your hair color. “When it’s really hot, just like with the body, it opens up the cuticle,” says Dolan. “If you just got it done, the color tends to rinse it out faster than normal.” While you don’t have to force yourself through a cold shower, dial back the temperature while you’re shampooing if you usually use really hot water, he says. Don't miss these other showering mistakes that could ruin your hair.

Use a shower filter


Hard water contains chlorine, minerals, and calcium that are hard on hair, especially when they mess with the chemicals in your color. “You feel it when you take a shower if you have hard water and your skin gets tighter,” says Dolan. “Minerals will start weighing on hair and you’ll notice your hair color turning odd colors.” Add a filter to your shower to avoid the nasty effects. Find out what your hair can reveal about your health.

Buy the proper shampoo


Pick a shampoo and conditioner that don’t contain sulfates. “Sulfates have gotten a bad name for a reason,” says Cairns. “It works like a strong detergent to strip out your really expensive, beautiful hair color.” Look for a product designed specifically to be “color safe” or “for color,” she says.

Consider a pigmented hair wash


Pick up a shampoo and conditioner that have a small amount of hair color to replenish your pigment when you do wash your hair. You can pick up a prepackaged product at the drugstore, or see if your salon will mix a bit of your specific dye into shampoo so it’s customized for your shade, says Cairns. Don't miss these hairstyle mistakes that make you look older.

Add a new product to your routine


Buy a bottle of after-color service treatment to lengthen the life of your color. “They’re nourishing your hair and locking in color and giving it shine to prevent it from fading,” says Dolan. Check out these sneaky reasons your hair is going gray too soon.

…But keep others out


Sea salt sprays give you nice waves, but at the risk of sacrificing all-important moisture. “By using products that are dehydrating, you have more color rinse out than if the hair was healthy,” says Cairns. “Because you’re removing nutrients from hair strands, it’s not as structurally strong and can’t hold on to color as well.”

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