If you dye your hair and the color stays vibrant and shiny until your next appointment, we’re happy for you. Really. But let’s assume that the other 99.9 percent of women aren’t so lucky.
The confusion arises when you go to shop for hair products. Your first instinct is to grab color-protecting formulas, but oh hey, over there are the frizz-control ones and you need those, too. So what is the priority?
If you’re dealing with frizz, limpness, dryness or damage, or other issues on top of color fade, you’re not doomed to a lifetime of bad hair days.
Clayton, Bumble & Bumble Creative Lead for Color, adds that your individual needs are a major factor here, and suggests enlisting your stylist to come up with a custom-made plan of attack. “You might have to use a few products meant for various issues on different areas, instead of just everything from one particular line,” she says. “Think of it like skincare; maybe you have combination skin, so you’d use one thing to treat oiliness in one spot, and another to treat dryness somewhere else. You need to tailor your routine to address each part of your hair to help it look the way you want.” Here are some common colored hair problem combos and how to deal, plus a handy cheat sheet!
If Your Hair Is Colored and Dry
According to Clayton, the color you choose is the key factor in caring for hair that’s dry and dyed. Hard-to-maintain color—think how blonde can go brassy and red tends to fade quickly—probably needs the assistance of a color-conserve regimen (bonus: they also usually contain moisturizers to help with dryness). She suggests sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner (try the Bumble & Bumble Color Minded product line), plus a weekly moisture mask, applied to the ends only, to address dryness. Forget the idea that squeaky-clean is best, since cleansing too frequently strips out natural oils and does no favors to dye. “The enemy of color is water; rinsing the hair opens the cuticle and the color washes away,” says Ni'Kita Wilson, YouBeauty Cosmetic Chemistry Expert.
If Your Hair Is Colored and Frizzy
Eric Spengler, Living Proof Chief Commercialization Officer and SVP, Research and Development, says there’s often a link between these two problems. When you look at a strand of hair, “The cuticle, or outer layer, of each hair strand looks like shingles on a roof. When the hair is damaged through color or chemical processing, those shingles can flare out, resulting in frizz, especially when exposed to high humidity,” he says.
Styling products come into play in a major way here. Start out with color-preserving shampoo and conditioner, but pay close attention to what you apply after rinsing. Salon owner Rodney Cutler suggests cuticle-smoothing styling creams like Redken Smooth Lock Stay Sleek to repel humidity and smooth hair. “If you blow dry, use a flat boar bristle brush and direct the air from root to end and allow the hair to cool while still on the brush to seal and flatten the cuticle. Finish the look with Redken Control Addict 28 High Control Hairspray to hold the look and repel humidity,” he suggests.
Speaking of the “H word” (public enemy number one when it comes to frizz), Wilson recommends anti-humectant products that help create a film or a seal around the cuticle to keep moisture out and color in. “Even if you love your color, you’ll never be happy unless you address the frizz,” says Wilson. Try Living Proof No Frizz and Restore products; in clinical testing, they (and their fancy, high-tech proprietary molecule) were shown to be 70 percent more effective at blocking humidity than typical silicone-based anti-frizz products.
If Your Hair Is Colored and Fine/Limp
Cutler says the goal is to add maximum volume without causing color fade, a common complaint since many thickening products add volume by fluffing up the cuticle, which allows color molecules to slip out. Look for volumizing products that clearly state they're color-safe or are designed for color-treated hair. Products like this used to be hard to find but advances in technology have paved the way for color-specific hair care companies such as ColorProof, Pureology, and ColorWow to come out with volumizing products that pump up the hair without stripping color.
Spengler adds that there are tons of products out there that contain silicones and oils, which weigh the hair down and cause build-up. Fine hair is particularly prone to this, so he says to read ingredient lists carefully to avoid a flat, limp and greasy-looking mess on your head. A good rule of thumb is that if silicone or dimethicone is listed above the fourth spot on the ingredient list, move along.
If Your Hair Is Colored and Chemically Straightened
In this case, Wilson says to go for products made for damaged hair, since they’re designed to help seal the cuticle. “Doing this helps with both issues, since the sealed cuticle helps heal the damaged parts of the hair strands, and also prevents pigment from leaking out to keep color fresh,” she says. Cutler adds that both parts of this combo can be treated in one move. “Moisture, moisture, moisture! Colored hair that has also been chemically treated tends to be extremely dry,” he says. “To get back some of the moisture lost during these processes, it’s ideal to limit the frequency of washes and only use sulfate-free formulas.” He likes Pureology Precious Oil shampoo and conditioner, which are super hydrating and will also help maintain color vibrancy. Taking this tip one step further, Spengler says it’s essential, not optional, to indulge in a weekly intensive treatment mask to prevent further damage. It’ll help strengthen and reduce the risk of breakage, and since healthy hair retains dye better, it’ll also cut down on color fade.
If Your Hair Is Colored and Oily
“This combination is a little tricky, since you’ll likely want to wash more often but doing so can fade your color,” says Wilson. She says to completely avoid shampoo made for oily types, which tends to strip the hair; it’ll feel nice and clean but will lose its color quickly. Instead, go for a shampoo created for color-treated hair, followed by a light conditioner (nowhere near your roots, though, unless greasy is the look you want to achieve). Wilson likes UV-protective styling sprays for this hair problem combo, since they’re lightweight but also help preserve color. Joel Warren, L'Oréal Professionnel Artist and co-founder of Warren-Tricomi Salons takes a slightly different approach, which may seem counterproductive, but try to keep an open mind. “To offset oily-looking hair, you actually need to use products that contain oils,” he says. These types of products work to balance the natural oil levels so it’s cleansed at the root and nourished at the ends for a weightless finish. His fave is the L'Oréal Professionnel Mythic Oil hair care line.
If Your Hair Is Colored and Curly
This one’s a bit easier to navigate, since products made for these two issues are formulated in a very similar way. Wilson says that since taming curls (especially tighter, kinkier ones) and preserving color are all about moisture, emollient-rich shampoos and conditioners made for color-treated hair are an ideal choice. Add in a weekly deep-conditioning mask, and you’ll be all set (this is only untrue for curly hair that’s also fine, which can get weighed down by too-heavy products). Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask is a concentrated boost of much-needed hydration.
After preserving color via shampoo and conditioner, Wilson suggests allowing styling products to take center stage when it comes to defining curls. Thankfully all those drying, alcohol-laden gels and sprays that made curls look like uncooked ramen noodles have been replaced by creams and serums, which polish and smooth curls with a soft finish. Two to try: Vidal Sassoon Pro Series Waves Collection Creme Pomade for everyday styling, and Salon Series by Ouidad Mongongo Oil Multi Use Hair Treatment, for brittle hair that needs serious healing and and added shine.
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