Congratulations! You’ve achieved the glorious hair color of your dreams. (Do we hear angels singing?) Now all you have to do is maintain the magic. But sun, swimming, and daily showering and styling can dim that new hue. With a few smart strategies, however, you can keep the color you longed for -- longer.
Strategy: Wash Smart
Why it's Essential: Since dyed hair is very porous, it absorbs water like a sponge and releases it just as readily, sending color pigments out of hair and swirling down the drain. You won’t see it happening, but eventually you’ll notice that your tone has faded or changed. First, try not to wash daily—two to four times a week is ideal— and always use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner. They’re formulated with gentler cleansing surfactants and hydrating emollients to help keep pigments locked into your hair.
Strategy: Build a Barrier
Why it's Essential: If water is the biggest threat to hair color, sunlight runs a close second. Ultraviolet rays and the resulting free radicals break down dye pigments and weaken the keratin bonds that keep strands strong and pliable. If you’re going to be out- side for an extended period, the simplest fix is to wear a hat. For everyday protection, mist on a lightweight UV spray to help shield both hair and scalp.
Strategy: Style Safely
Why it's Essential: Hot tools like hair dryers, flat and curling irons, and hot rollers can top out at 450 degrees F, making already fragile strands far more so. Just as steam opens the pores on your face, intense heat peels back cuticles, breaking down the molecular components that hold in color pigments. The fix: Always use a heat-protection spray on damp hair. The silicones within form a protective seal over cuticles. And whenever possible, give hair a break and let it air-dry.
Strategy: Don't Stress About Sweat
Why it's Essential: Shampooing less frequently makes perfect sense in theory, but what’s a clammy girl to do after Spinning class? Put on a shower cap or twist your hair into a bun, and keep it out of the water stream. Once out of the shower, blast roots using your hair dryer’s cool setting, and follow with a dry shampoo, massaging it into the roots to absorb excess oil. Then brush out hair using a natural-bristle type. If your ends feel dry, or your hair needs extra detangling, add a dry conditioner, a mist that hydrates ends without rewetting them.
Color Saver: DryBar Detox Dry Shampoo and Detox Dry Conditioner, $22 and $23, drybar.com.
Strategy: Take a Swimming Lesson
Why it's Essential: Chlorine and salt water have a lovely way of turning blonde strands green and brown ones orange. To keep your color intact, hit the shower before taking a dip. This may sound counterintuitive (or inconvenient), but saturating cuticles with clean water makes it harder for pool or salt water to work its way in and do damage. For an added shield while doing your laps, plus a dose of hydration, comb a mask or conditioner from roots to ends before diving in.
Strategy: Polish Your Silver
Why it's Essential: Cool blonde tones don’t have an abundance of pigment (and the same goes for natural grays and whites), so mineral deposits in your water, UV light, and pollutants in the air can all impart a brassy cast that’s more noticeable than it would be on, say, a brunette. Enter your new best friend, the purple shampoo. It’s on the exact opposite side of the color wheel, so it helps mellow those yellows instantly. Don’t worry about using it daily -- just when hair needs a boost.
Giselle, colorist at NYC’s Pierre Michel salon; Adam Broderick, salon and spa owner in Ridgefield, Connecticut; Nikki Lee, colorist and co-owner of Nine Zero One, in West Hollywood, California; Jason Dolan, colorist at Nunzio Saviano, in New York City; Jeni Thomas, principal scientist at Procter & Gamble; Rebekah Forecast, hairstylist at Serge Normant at John Frieda salon, in New York City; and Gina Khan, stylist at Salon Nine, in San Francisco.