If you dye or highlight your hair, you’ll already know that some degree of fading is inevitable. But there are things you can do (or really, products you can use) to prolong the life of your color and keep it looking fresh between salon visits. To find out more, I spoke with Jonathan Colombini, L’Oréal Paris Celebrity Hair Stylist; and Joseph Maine, Color Wow’s Artistic Director, about the best products for color-treated hair. Rule number one: Nix sulfates in your shampoo. Colombini and Maine are in firm agreement on that one, since these harsh cleansing agents “swell the hair and open the cuticle, so any deposited color leaches out,” Maine explains. He warned that even shampoos that are marketed as “color-safe” can still contain sulfates (like sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonates), so make sure it’s clearly labelled “sulfate-free.” Conditioners with low pH levels can help mitigate swelling, too.
Shampoos and conditioners are the building blocks of your hair-care routine, but they shouldn’t be the only products you use. Both stylists recommend using a protecting spray or styling cream before going in with hot styling tools to “protect the cuticle and your color,” Colombini says. Ingredients-wise, Maine suggests “avoiding products with high concentrations of alcohol,” since that can also strip color and dry out your hair. Instead, look for nourishing and strengthening ingredients, like plant-derived oils and panthenol, as well as formulas that help protect your hair against aggressors that can cause color-fading. Since most dyed hair is also damaged to a certain degree, it’s a good idea to work some protein treatments into the mix, too.
Avoid damage, dullness, and fading (both gradual and sudden) with some of the best products for color-treated hair, listed ahead.
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1. Best Prestige Shampoo & Conditioner
Premium shampoos and conditioners tend to contain fewer fillers than less-expensive ones, so they’re more concentrated, clean your hair more thoroughly, and won’t deposit as much (or any) buildup. Your color will look more vibrant as a result. Even better if that salon-grade duo is formulated specifically for color-treated hair — like this Living proof Color Care Shampoo and accompanying conditioner. Both protect your hair from virtually everything that threatens to dull your color — including UV rays, hard water minerals, chlorine, and damaged follicles — while boosting your hair’s silkiness and shine.
2. Pro Pick: Best Drugstore Shampoo & Conditioner
While premium shampoos and conditioners are made of the best-quality ingredients, you can still find some high performers from drugstore brands, too. “I love the L’Oréal Paris EverPure collections,” Colombini says. “They’re specific to colored hair, tackle a wide range of hair-care needs, and they’re vegan and free of parabens and sulfates.” He pointed out this shampoo and conditioner duo in particular, which helps restore moisture to dry hair, offers UV protection, and promises to extend your color for up to four weeks. The Thickening version happens to be one of my favorite drugstore shampoo/conditioners, too.
3. Best Pre-Shampoo Treatment
As long as you’re using a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner (bonus points if it’s also silicone- and salt-free), you should be in the clear. But for even more protection against fading, apply this amika Fadeblock Pre-Shampoo Color Seal before you hop in the shower, then rinse it out before you shampoo. It literally forms a protective seal over your hair, which lets the good stuff in — namely, the cleansers and moisturizers in your shampoo and conditioner — and keeps out any aggressors that threaten to fade your color. It’ll help smooth and condition your hair too, thanks to red wine extract, grape leaf extract, and an amino acid complex in the formula. One Amazon reviewer noted that this extended their color to a full eight weeks, as opposed to their usual four-to-five, which ended up saving them a ton of time and money on salon visits.
4. Best Toning Shampoo
Bottle blondes (and silvers, and platinums), this Oribe toning shampoo is for you: It deposits a violet pigment onto your hair, which knocks out any brassy tinges your color can take on between salon visits. Reflective pearl makes your hair look deliciously glossy, too. And like any good shampoo for color-treated hair, it’s sulfate-free and contains a UV protection shield to prevent sun-induced fading.
5. Best Shampoo & Conditioner For Damaged Hair
If you dye your hair frequently; use heat tools on top of it; or, better (or worse?) yet, bleach it, reach for this Olaplex shampoo and conditioner. Like Olaplex’s beloved in-salon products, these formulas employ a patented bond-building technology to repair damage wrought through overprocessing, which leaves brittle hair feeling stronger, smoother, and more hydrated. Pick up the rest of Olaplex’s six-product consumer line on Amazon to round out your healthy-hair routine.
6. Best Protein Hair Mask
Incorporating a protein hair mask into your regimen is another way to repair dye-induced damage. This one from Briogeo is my personal favorite, and it’s well on its way toward earning cult status. It’s made of 98% naturally derived ingredients, many of which are of the protein variety — like biotin, wheat, soy, and corn — which all work to fortify compromised hair and increase its elasticity. Fatty acid-rich avocado and rosehip oils provide intense nourishment, while panthenol helps your hair retain moisture. Stick to using this once a week, since overusing protein treatments can damage your hair in the long run.
7. Best Nourishing Hair Mask
My colorist recommended this Pureology mask to keep my hair soft, hydrated, and vibrant between treatments, and it’s since become the rare product that actually has me looking forward to washing and conditioning my hair. The formula feels just as rich and decadent as you’d expect of a nourishing hair mask, but it doesn’t make my fine hair feel greasy or weighed down — rather, it looks and feels immediately silkier and more moveable. Smells amazing, too. Since this doesn’t contain proteins, you can use it a couple of times per week.
8. Pro Pick: Best Heat Protectant Spray
“It’s always important to put a protective barrier in between thermal tools and your hair,” Maine says, because heat tools “will add to the damage that coloring may cause, and also cause your color to fade.” There are tons of heat protectant sprays on the market, and you can’t really go wrong with any of them. But Maine favors this Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray, a flexible spray that both “protects your hair from heat and transforms your texture” into silky-smooth strands. This is also one of the most-loved heat protectant sprays on Amazon (it has over 10,000 five-star ratings) as well.
9. Pro Pick: Best Rinse-Out Treatment
As an alternative to one of those hair masks, Colombini recommends doing a conditioning treatment once a week, which will “really keep your hair healthy” and amp up your color’s clarity. He recommends L’Oreal Paris Elvive 8-Second Wonder Water, a rinse-out treatment that contains proteins and ceramides to rebuild, replenish, and restore shine to compromised hair. It costs under $10 on Amazon and literally works in eight seconds, so you have no excuse not to do it.
Jonathan Colombini, L’Oréal Paris Celebrity Hair Stylist
Joseph Maine, Color Wow’s Artistic Director
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