Before your hair is colored, make sure it’s in the best possible condition. If your hair is dry, or if you have a lot of split ends, you’re not going to get an even, natural looking result after coloring. Futhermore, you’re putting the health of your hair at risk by adding chemicals. Do a deep conditioning treatment once a week for several weeks leading up to your hair color, and make sure to get those split ends snipped beforehand. This will ensure that your hair is healthy enough to take on the color.
Here are some tips on protecting your color-treated hair:
Keep the water temperature warm or lukewarm—a hot shower can expand the hair cuticle, allowing pigment molecules to escape—and don’t feel compelled to shampoo daily if you don’t have to, since detergents can prematurely fade dye. Color-treated tresses should only be cleansed and conditioned with “color-safe” products, which are brewed to prevent leaching pigment from your pricey dye job.
You don’t have to get all gussied up for your colorist, but do wash your hair within 24 hours of arrival. Most pros only cleanse your hair postcolor, so sweat, sticky styling products, and even spray tanning can tamper with how well the pigment molecules adhere to your hair shaft. A messed-up mane can also prevent your colorist from gauging your hair’s true tone, making it more difficult for her to find your perfect new hue. Make it easier on everyone and suds up before you sit down.
After you color your hair red or brown, hold off on lathering up for 48 hours, since it takes about two days for dyes to neutralize. You want to ensure the dye fully deposits and settles properly without being disturbed by shampoo detergent. If you’re going blonde—which typically entails lightening locks by stripping out color rather than adding it in as you do with reds and browns—you only have to wait 24 hours.
You wouldn’t leave the house without sunscreen, right? So apply that same UV vigilance to your hair. “UV light degrades proteins in the shaft, which weakens strands,” says Jeni Thomas, a senior scientist at Procter & Gamble. Color-treated tresses are also more porous, leaving them extra vulnerable to oxidative damage from the sun, thermal heat, and environmental pollutants like smoke and smog. To safeguard your strands, spray on a broad-spectrum color protector that shields against both UVA and UVB rays before venturing al fresco.
Colored hair can act like a sponge, unintentionally soaking up pigments from everyday products, so it’s important for blondes and brunettes to be vigilant about avoiding orange-colored shampoos, conditioners, and styling products. If you’ve already detected a hint of hibiscus, try L’Oreal Paris Brass Banisher ($10), an ammonia-free gloss that counteracts carroty colors by depositing ashy undertones. Sunning, swimming, and showering can also strip your new shade—protect your investment by spritzing on a UV-protective spray, using a shower filter, and rinsing tresses with fresh water before diving into the pool, which limits absorption of color-changing chlorine.