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Got coloured hair? Here's how to keep it salon-fresh

January 1 | 3 minute read

How To Maintain Coloured Hair Hero 16x9

Words by Sarah Tarca and Sherine Youssef

Originally published on | May 23

If you've spent a considerable amount of money (and time) getting your hair professionally coloured, you want to make the most of your investment, correct? We thought so.

But it's not just about extending the time between appointments with your colourist. Coloured hair is different to virgin hair (that’s hair that’s never been coloured) and requires specialised care to ensure it stays healthy. Any hair that's been permanently coloured – whether that's a roots-only greys cover-up, lowlights, highlights, balayage, all of it! – has undergone a chemical alteration process where the hair cuticle has been opened to allow the dye into the hair shaft. This leaves all professionally coloured hair, regardless of the individual hair type, more porous, dryer and more prone to damage, from both mechanical (think over-energetic brushing) and heat sources (all that blow-drying!).

You can very easily look after your salon dye job at home, and with just a few key products and tips, you'll have your colourist asking you, "tell me your secrets!".

Colour-conserving haircare is a real thing

Products labelled ‘for coloured hair’ are specifically formulated to treat all that damage we just mentioned. These are usually gentle, highly nourishing and moisturising, fortifying to build up resilience and elasticity in colour-treated strands, contain heat protectant properties (from either UV or hot styling tools, or both), and will often offer additional shine-enhancing benefits to counteract the dullness that accompanies coloured hair. Some will even have colour-enhancing or colour-depositing benefits, to extend the life of your colour and the time between salon visits.

How to cleanse coloured hair

Using a shampoo (and conditioner) that isn’t suited to your hair type is like wearing a foundation that’s four shades off your actual skin tone. Sure, you’ll get coverage, but it’s not optimal. Maximise the efficacy of your daily wash by customising your hair products to both your hair type and your concerns, and it all starts with a colour-safe shampoo.

When washing, be extra gentle as coloured hair is more fragile and prone to breakage (no vigorous scalp massages!). Try to wash less frequently to allow the natural oils produced by your hair and scalp to come through and moisturise. Minimal washing will also reduce the chance of your colour fading and dulling, and minimise the likelihood of over-stripping and further dehydrating the scalp or hair.

Conditioner for coloured hair

You don't want to skip conditioner, especially with colour-treated hair. It will add a dose of much-needed moisture back into hair. Try and let the conditioner sit for the full time suggested on the packaging, to give hair its best shot at soaking up as much nourishment and hydration as it can.

Masks (and treatments) are a must

Using an in-shower hair mask just once a week is one of the fastest ways to get the kind of glossy lengths hair commercials are made of, and can help repair the damage caused by bleach and colour processing.

Leave-in treatments and serums, applied post-shower on still-damp hair, can also add much-needed moisture. They're especially beneficial if you plan on being outdoors for any extended period of time, or going for a swim, as all three – sunlight, salt,chlorine – are sure-fire ways to dull and distort your hair colour. Leave-in products will also make hair feel silkier and more supple, so you can detangle gently and minimise the risk of breakage.

Seal in all the conditioning benefits of your masks and treatments with hair oil. Just like they seal in the serums and moisturisers you layer on your face, they'll do the same here, locking in all that hydrating goodness. A DIY glossing treatment will seal the cuticle and add ridiculous shine and a healthy-looking glaze, super fast, while frazzled and split ends will welcome a helping of nourishing serum or oil, to both hydrate and seal them up.

There are also some innovative haircare products that utilise clever bond-building technology to help repair and restore the damage that can happen to hair’s chemical bonds during the colouring process, for when you want to go one step further!

Beat the heat

Heat, whether from the sun or hot styling tools, can further exacerbate dryness and put more stress on brittle and delicate strands. There are a few easy ways to minimise this: turn down the temperature on your tools, give hair a break between hot tool styling sessions (try to skip at least every second one), and always, always, prep with a heat protectant. If you have coloured hair, don't even think about stepping outside or picking up the blow-dryer if you haven't applied one of these.

Top up with toners

Anyone who has ever had highlights will know that brassiness is the enemy of blondes. Luckily, there’s an easy fix: purple toning shampoo, which contain purple pigments that help to neutralise the yellow (or ‘brassiness’) and keep colour fresh.

Using at-home toners between salon visits can also help restore vibrancy in brunettes and keep red hair and black hair looking luminous.

Related topics and brand tags

Hair careSplit endsLiving ProofBumble and bumbleOlaplex

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