How to Prevent Hair Color from Fading (Because Balayage Ain't Cheap)

Pro tips for keeping your color fresh

How to Prevent Hair Color from Fading universal: a woman getting her hair dyed in a salon
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Two things happen right after getting your hair dyed: First, you take all the selfies. Then, you stock up on dry shampoo to avoid ever washing your hair so the color doesn’t fade. Of course, there's more to protecting your new color than simply washing it les. Allow us, with the help of a renowned hairstylist, to show you how to prevent hair color from fading (aka how to best protect your investment).

Meet the Expert

Tom Smith is a celebrity hairstylist and the international color creative director for evo hair. He has over 15 years of experience and is also the color director at Billi Currie Hair Salon in London, as well as a senior educator for Olaplex.

What Causes Hair Color to Fade Quickly?

"Washing your hair too often with hot water or using heat from a blow dryer or straightening iron of any kind is going to cause hair fading," says Smith. "Excessive sunlight exposure is another reason. Lastly, if you've had some kind of color correction where your hair was previously bleached, and then made darker, it can be difficult for the darker hair pigments to stick to the hair, so they leach out and look faded," he adds.

What Hair Colors Tend to Fade the Fastest and Why?

According to Smith, the brightest colors (like artificial red or violet) tend to fade the fastest, since these shades aren't naturally occurring. "Very cool toned blondes and brunettes tend to fade quickly as well because your natural hair has warm undertones to it, containing brown red orange and yellow pigments, so cooler tones always fade quickly," he explains.

What Are Some Hair Colors That Tend to Last the Longest?

"Partial coloring techniques, so anything that preserves your natural color at the base, will last longer," says Smith. "For example, adding high or low lights will always last longer than doing all over color. Also, anything that processes the hair less—such as using a hair gloss to boost your natural shade or a semi-permanent color will last longer than a double-process (i.e., bleaching and toning your hair)."

What Are Some Best Practices to Preserve Your Color at Home?

Here are Smith's top five tips for caring for your color, so it lasts longer:

  • Wash your hair as infrequently as your scalp health will allow. For some people, that could mean washing it every other day, whereas for curly or processed hair, that could mean twice a week.
  • When you do wash your hair, use cooler water. It doesn't have to be ice cold—even mild or tepid water is better hot water, which can cause the dye to leach out.
  • Use color protecting shampoos and conditioners that are gentler on your strands. Note: They're often labeled as such (and we've included a few recommendations ahead as well).
  • Reduce the amount of heat you put on your hair on a regular basis (so cut down on blow drying and using hot tools).
  • When you use heat tools, always apply a protective product beforehand. Ditto for when you know you're going to be out in the sun for a long time.

And if you're looking for some color protective hair products, we've got a few favorites for you to shop below.

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