Is a Color-Safe Shampoo Worth the Extra Money?

red haired girlHair color is made up of small molecules. Once the color is applied to the hair, a chemical alkalizer in the formulation opens the cuticle layer, which allows the dye-molecules to penetrate the cortex and deposit inside the hair strand. Following this process, the hair is rinsed with cool water and conditioned, which helps the cuticle to close back, keeping the color molecules in the hair.
When you find hair color that is your perfect type, you will want it to stay looking vibrant as long as possible. Once your hair has been colored, it needs to be treated with special care. Colored hair tends to fade and lose shine and may become dull and lifeless after a few washes. To keep the fresh hair color last longer, you need to use special products and take care of it the right way.

Image courtesy of Pezibear at

Washing Your Hair after Coloring

Artificial color pigments have a tendency to gradually disappear from the hair, so hair color fades over time. Water, harsh cleansers, heat styling tools, and prolonged sun exposure can remove the color pigments deposited in the hair, causing fading and dullness.
Fortunately, there are some ways to slow down the fading of dyed hair and to retain the freshness of your super-rich shade for longer. However, before purchasing any color care product make sure that you follow a few basic rules when it comes to washing your colored hair.

1. Wait After Coloring to Wash Your Hair

The hair cuticle is the outside protective layer of a hair strand which helps prevent damage to the cortex and controls the look and appearance of the hair. Cuticles that have been opened up during coloring make the hair more prone to color being washed. The cuticle takes up to 72 hours to fully close and enable your strands to hold color inside. Shampooing hair too soon after coloring will wash out hair color. If you would like your hair to completely absorb and lock in the new color, avoid washing your hair for a couple of days after coloring it.

2. Skip Washing whenever you can

To prevent your vibrant color from being washed away, stretch out the time between washes, because water drains out the dyes and promotes fading. Shampooing removes a little bit of color every time the hair is washed. It’s a good practice to shampoo only as often as necessary. If possible, shampoo your hair no more than three times per week. Protect your hair from the water in the shower on no wash days.

3. Lower the Temperature of the Water

When you wash your hair, lower the temperature of water. Hotter water will raise the cuticle of your hair shaft, allowing the color molecules to escape during rinsing. Cooler water closes the hair cuticle, which will reduce color fading.

Avoid Putting Harsh Chemicals on Color-Treated Hair

It doesn’t matter if you have a temporary, semi, or permanent hair color: it is vital to avoid shampoos that can cause hair color to fade. Ordinary shampoos may contain detergents that will fade the brilliance of your color.
Study the ingredient label on your chosen shampoo before purchase. Make sure that it reads “sulfate-free”. Sulfates are very strong detergents that will cut grease and make your shampoo lather but they will also reduce the vibrancy and sheen of your hair color. Hair cuticles need to stay closed, to ensure the color longevity. Sulfate detergents rough up the cuticle layer, allowing color molecules to leak out. Stronger clarifying shampoos can even remove the color completely from your hair in a few washes.
The most common sulfates in hair shampoos are sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium laurel sulfate.
In summary, study the ingredients and go for sulfate free shampoos and those that are labeled “color safe”. Sulfate free shampoos use natural ingredients to carry out the cleaning task. You may see less foamy bubbles that are associated with cleansing action, but you will get a gentler yet still effective cleansing.
Color-safe products also shouldn’t contain alcohol, parabens, salt, and artificial fragrance.

Shampoo and Conditioner for Color-Treated Hair

Hair shampoos formulated for colored hair contain no sulfates or any of the strong ingredients that can damage the color. They cleanse hair without stripping and help in maintaining proper pH balance. There are three main benefits that color care shampoos offer:

  1. In addition of being sulfate-free, color protective shampoos and conditioners are formulated with extra moisturizing ingredients that deliver extra hydration and help guard your processed hair from breaking.
  2. Color-protecting products condition your strands with extra emollients and proteins that help seal the hair cuticle, which prevent pigment from leaking out and provide long-lasting color retention.
  3. Color-enhancing shampoos and conditioners also contain nourishing ingredients that promote radiance and give color-treated hair luster and shine which helps color look more vivid.

A conditioner specially formulated for color-treated hair helps keep the cuticles smooth to lock the color pigments deep inside the hair. These products contain UV filters to shield strands against UV rays and environmental pollutants that can cause damage and fading.
There are also color-depositing conditioners. They deposit a small amount of dye with each wash to revive color and help you go longer in between touch-ups.
Keep in mind that color-safe shampoos will help you reduce color fading, but they will not stop it altogether.

Dry Shampoos for Long-Lasting Color

A great way to save the color and prevent premature fading is to keep hair dry as long as you can. Dry shampoos help reduce your hair’s contact with water which helps extend the life of hair color. These products soak up excess oil from your scalp and strands and give you more time in between your washes. Dry shampoos also add bounce, making your hair look fresh and clean.


Medical Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.

You may also like

Extending the Life of your Brazilian Blowout

Top Five Shampoo Brands for Keratin Treated Hair