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Choosing the Best Shampoo for Color Treated Hair

To decide which shampoo is best for color-treated hair it is important to consider how hair color works and which direction you are coloring in. Read more...


 

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How does hair dye work?



To decide which shampoo is best for color-treated hair it is important to consider how hair color works and which direction you are coloring in!

Most hair dyes work by opening the outermost part of the hair follicle called the cuticle to lighten your natural color and deposit artificial pigment. Some hair dyes, usually ones that contain peroxide, work by lightening your natural hair pigment. Regardless, once artificial pigment or color is deposited in your cuticles, it undergoes a reaction that makes the particle too large to just come out on its own. It needs a pH change in your hair and heat to open the cuticles back up to release the pigment.

That being said, the goal of shampoo for color-treated hair is to maintain a pH that allows your hair to hold onto its pigment and to avoid stripping color with harsh detergents that can strip the cuticle and the color along with it.


What happens to hair dye over time?



There are two ways that hair dyes become less effective over time. The first is that as your hair naturally grows out, the roots show revealing your original color making the hair dye less noticeable. The second is that the hair dye naturally washes out over time or is impacted by UV and other light or heat sources.



 


 


How long does it take for hair dye to fade?



For most people, roots will take about 6 weeks to really show and warrant a touch-up. The time frame for hair dye to fade can vary depending on how the hair is managed in terms of frequency of washes, type of shampoo, and hair products used.


Are there special shampoos for colored hair?



Most hair dyes work by opening the outermost part of the hair follicle called the cuticle to lighten your natural color and deposit artificial pigment. Some hair dyes, usually ones that contain peroxide, work by lightening your natural hair pigment. Regardless, once artificial pigment or color is deposited in your cuticles, it undergoes a reaction that makes the particle too large to just come out on its own. It needs a pH change in your hair and heat to open the cuticles back up to release the pigment.

That being said, the goal of shampoo for color-treated hair is to maintain a pH that allows your hair to hold onto its pigment and to avoid stripping color with harsh detergents that can strip the cuticle and the color along with it. If you do not use a color-treated shampoo you will need to color your hair more frequently since your hair simply will not hold the color as long!



What are the best steps to take to maintain hair color?



Recognizing that frequency of hair washing, heat and UV exposure, and type of shampoo can play a role in maintaining the integrity of your hair dye, try the following steps.


  1. Choose a color-treated hair shampoo to maintain your hair color when you do wash your hair.

  2. Reduce the frequency of shampoo use. Find a balance between your hair needs for cleanliness and reducing the exposure of your hair to the pH changes that can trigger a loss of hair dye. This process may include consideration of to use of conditioner without shampoo for some hair washes.

  3. Using hair conditioners can protect the hair by almost placing a sealant over the surface of the hair follicle. Considering leave-in conditioners and even heat-protectant products if you tend to use hair dryers or curling irons can also help protect your hair.

  4. If your hair has significant exposure to UV and other heat sources, consider a UV-protecting finishing spray. Remember these are not necessarily protecting your scalp from UV exposure but they may help protect your hair from the breakdown of hair dye that can occur with UV exposure.






How can I choose the right color-safe shampoo for my hair?



The pH of shampoos does matter. There is some research that suggests that the pH of shampoos can cause or make our hair more susceptible to breakage. Our hair needs an acidic pH to make it less susceptible to frizz and friction against other hair follicles that can result in breakage. One study showed that 75% of salon shampoos had the right pH compared to only 38% of drugstore brands. For color-safe shampoos, pH is even more important to maintain the integrity of the hair color. For this reason, I tend to favor brands that specifically state that they are for color-treated hair and consider spending a bit more on salon-favored brand names. Hair dye is an investment of money and time so it is worth maintaining it.



Are there things I can do to make my hair color last longer than expected?



I find that heat protectants and leave-in conditioners can play an important role in retaining hydration and a sealant-like effect on hair. Remember that the hair dye is depositing itself in the scales of the cuticles of the hair follicle. The actual structure of the hair shaft itself may not be what you think. The surface of a hair follicle is actually not smooth, it is scaly. This plays a significant role in considering how hair products and hair color work by lodging within the scale of these follicles. Recognizing this can help understand why maintaining hydration and protection of the hair shaft can also protect the color.


 

 






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