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How to make hair color last: 11 tips to prevent color fading

You love your new hair color, but how do you plan on keeping it? Here are tips and tricks from the experts.
hair dye, make hair color last, highlights
After all that time and money spent at the salon, here's how to make the color really last.Shutterstock
/ Source: TODAY

It's time for a color change, so you head to the salon and shell out a small fortune on everything from highlights to lowlights and maybe even a glaze. Whether you want a simple, sun-kissed look or a dramatic change, the question now is: How will you make that color last until next time?

TODAY Style turned to expert colorists to get their best advice on how preserve your hair color once you've left the salon.

How to make hair color last longer

  • 1. Don’t head straight to a shower.

Celebrity colorist Ryan Pearl, who works at Cutler Salon in New York City, recommends waiting at least 24 hours before shampooing as this allows the dye to settle into the hair. If you’re desperate to get that clean-hair feeling, Pearl suggests simply rinsing your hair with cool water and scrubbing the scalp with fingertips.

“A nice scrub will still cleanse the hair and scalp without pulling color,” Pearl said in an email to TODAY.

  • 2. Skip the super hot water.

That hot shower might feel good after a long day, but is it worth ruining your hair color over? We didn’t think so.

Pearl encourages women to use water at cooler temperatures when washing dyed hair as it “will help prolong the brilliance of the color.”

  • 3. Think about switching up your favorite products.

To help maintain your newly dyed locks, you just might have to say good-bye to some of your go-to products.

“Many over-the-counter products contain salts, sulfates and detergents. That’s why they are so inexpensive. These ingredient strip hair color out!” said JB Shelton, an educator for Bosley Professional Strength Haircare.

Instead, look for products that are sulfate- and alcohol-free. They work just as well and will help your hair hold onto its color.

  • 4. Space out your shampoo days.

“Many women shampoo every day, which will strip hair of oils and color, even if it’s (professionally done),” explained Shelton. “Try to go every other day and use a dry shampoo in between washes if your scalp experiences an oily buildup.”

Even better, invest in a shampoo and conditioner treatment that’s designed specifically for color-treated hair, according to celebrity hairstylist Richard Collins, who has worked with stars like Helen Mirren, Patricia Arquette and Vanessa Hudgens.

Shin An, hairstylist and owner of Shin Hair Salon in Santa Monica, California, recommends the following three shampoos to preserve color.

Christophe Robin Color Fixator Wheat Germ Shampoo, $22, Amazon

Also available for $38 at Sephora.

An told TODAY that she loves this shampoo because it "provides lasting protection and shine." Most of all it's "super gentle on the hair and produces great softness and protects color and makes it last longer," she said.

Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo, $28, Amazon

Also available at Nordstrom.

This shampoo "repairs the hair bonds for supershiny hair," according to An.

Blndn Brighten You Shampoo, $24, Blndn

“I love this because it works but also nourishes. It is very hydrating, safe for keratin and color (and) it’s gentle." said An. It "removes all the brassiness regardless of hair color."

You can also try alternating between a hydrating shampoo and color-preserving shampoo, suggests Christyn Nawrot, an educator for PHYTO. But regardless of which brand you use, Nawrot says to look for shampoos with natural ingredients.

  • 5. Say no to clarifying shampoos.

Ever wondered why your friend's hair (or maybe even your own) suddenly turned orange? If it's color-treated, a clarifying shampoo could be to blame. That's why celebrity hair colorist and salon owner Rita Hazan advises skipping clarifying shampoos as they strip the hair. She also warns that dandruff shampoos can do the same if they are not specifically designed for color-treated hair.

  • 6. Use your hair wash in the right places.

“Make sure to focus your shampoo on cleansing your root and not on the middle to ends of the hair as this will strip your color over time,” celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa wrote in an email.

  • 7. The color of your conditioner matters.

Conditioner is equally as important as shampoo in the hair-washing process. And many of the same rules apply for color-treated hair. Similarly, it matters not just what you apply, but how you apply it.

“When using color conditioners, make sure to wring the hair out well and apply the conditioners evenly in small sections in order to thoroughly saturate the hair. Let it sit per the manufacturer’s instructions before rinsing,” said hairstylist Christopher Pierce of Andy LeCompte Salon in West Hollywood.

Colorist and salon owner Chelsey Pickthorn recommends Davines Alchemic Conditioners. This conditioner comes in six different shades so that you can pick the color most similar to the lightest tones in your hair.

Davines Alchemic Conditioner, $31, Amazon

Also available in three more colors on Amazon.

  • 8. Invest in a conditioning treatment.

Hazan is a fan of using a conditioning treatment once or twice a week, as it adds moisture back into hair. Stylists, like Hazan, often say that one of the biggest culprits of faded color is when hair becomes dry. An at-home conditioning treatment can help you keep hair healthy without heading to the salon.

  • 9. Heat is the enemy.

Yes, it’s true that you're damaging your hair every time you turn on your blow dryer or use that curling iron. We’re sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

But, then again, it’s often the price to pay for a great style. If hot tools are a must, Pearl suggests using a lightweight oil or heat protectant prior to styling.

“Adding your favorite hair oil throughout the mid-length and end of hair and combing through gives the hair a protective barrier and hydrates hair for color longevity,” Pearl said.

Shelton also suggests turning down the heat on your hot tools.

  • 10. Just like skin, too much sun can be harmful for hair.

“Stay away from the sun without a hat, it will fade your color,” Collins said. “If you’re doing any outdoor activities like hiking or going to the beach, be sure to take cover.”

  • 11. Think twice about taking a dip in the pool.

“Plunging your hair into a body of chlorine isn’t exactly the best idea. Don’t swim in pools with chlorine as it will fade your color, but if you do swim, using a leave-in conditioner can reduce fading,” Collins said.

Pearl said he tells his clients to mix conditioner and water together in a spray bottle and to spray the mixture before and after dipping in the pool or ocean water.

This article was originally published on April 13, 2016 on