Last Updated on 28th September 2021 by Chauncey Morgan
People often spend a fortune on hair color services: whether it’s DIY or at a hairdresser, highlighting, bleaching, touch ups and dye jobs don’t come cheap. However, the awesome feeling of freshly colored hair soon disappears as your brand new hair color washes down the drain with every shower. If you want to extend the life of your hair color and prevent faded hair color keep reading for our ultimate guide to making hair color last longer.
If you need to know how to refresh faded hair color without dying again, the answer is at the end of the article.
How Long Does Hair Dye Last
The first thing you need to understand when trying to avoid faded hair color is how long the different types of hair colors are supposed to last. Using the right kind of product for your lifestyle is key: some dyes are just not made for durability. If your hair is very porous (bleached hair, for example) hair color may fade faster. But at the same time, some temporary fashion colors will stain blonde hair and last forever (or until you bleach them out). Some pigments fade faster than others, because the size of the molecules makes it easier for pigment to slip out from within the hair shaft. Red is particularly difficult to keep looking bright, but at the same time it has a tendency to stain so faded red hair can last forever.
Bleach, on the other hand, is not a dye but a color remover and will last forever. If you have ever lightened your hair, it will never go back to its natural color no matter how long you wait. However, this doesn’t mean bleached hair has no upkeep. Overtime bleached hair will develop brassy tones you will need to cancel out so your blonde hair looks bright and expensive. The blonde toners used to cancel those unwanted undertones wash out eventually and need to be reapplied.
How Long Does Demi Permanent Hair Color Last
Demi permanent hair color is deposit only, and contains no ammonia. It uses a very low level of developer to open up the hair cuticle and deposit pigment, but it doesn’t lighten hair at all. You will start noticing faded hair color after about 20 shampoos, and the dye will usually be gone by the 3 months mark. Most toners used to get rid of orange hair after bleaching fall within this category. If you are wondering how long does hair toner last, most toners will be demi permanent and so last about 20 shampoos depending on hair porosity and oxidation.
How Long Does Semi Permanent Hair Color Last
Semi permanent hair color is also deposit only, contains no ammonia and it’s not mixed with developer at all. Most fashion or rainbow colors belong into this category. The color starts fading from the first shampoo, but it can last up to 12 shampoos depending on the health and type of hair. Some colors last longer than others (Removing rainbow hair can be more difficult than it looks) but overall they go pastel pretty quick, particularly when used on blonde or bleached hair.
How Long Does Permanent Hair Color Last
Permanent hair color is actually permanent, but you will notice faded hair color over time and will need to refresh the ends and dye the regrowth to keep hair looking evenly colored. This kind of dye uses both developer and ammonia, though there are no-ammonia permanent hair dyes as well which are kinder to hair. Expect regrowth to be noticeable after as little as 4 weeks. When it fades, permanent hair color loses brightness and intensity and can go brassy. The darker the color, the less fading you will generally notice: permanent black hair dye will look dull but still perfectly black after many shampoos. However, permanent red color loses brightness and looks dull and tired pretty quick.
How To Prevent Faded Hair Color
There are a variety of small changes you can do to your lifestyle to extend the life of your dye job and prevent faded hair color. If you want to fade a disappointing dye job or fix hair dye that has gone too dark do exactly the opposite to encourage color fade.
Wash Hair With Colder Water
It sucks, but rinsing hair with cold water will definitely extend the life of your hair color. Hot water opens the hair cuticle, and allows pigment to wash off quicker. After conditioning your hair rinse with water as cold as you can manage to seal your cuticles, this will also make your hair shine more. If you live in an area with hard water install a water filter to keep color treated hair looking bright.
Wash Hair Less Often To Prevent Faded Hair Color
Fact: Every time you wash your hair, your hair color fades a bit. So try and wash your hair less often to conserve your hair color. You should become friends with dry shampoo, or just rinse your hair with tepid water if gym commitments make it impossible not to wash it. Washing your hair no more often than twice a week will extend the life of your hair color.
Avoid Sulphate-based Shampoos
When you wash your hair, the type of shampoo you use matters. Sulphate-free shampoos are much kinder to color treated hair as they don’t stripe moisture and color from hair. If you want to fade your hair color quick, H&S shampoo and clarifying shampoos are the best choice. If you want to avoid faded hair color don’t use that type of shampoo, ever.
Cut Down On Heat Styling
This is what heat does to hair color.
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Enough said, right? If you want to keep color treated hair looking its best, it’s time to down the heat tools or invest in heat straighteners that won’t burn your hair. You just spent a lot of money and time at the hairdresser, don’t let a cheap pair of hair irons and no heat protectant spray destroy all your efforts.
Your Hair Needs Sunscreen Too
UV rays are dangerous for your skin and lethal to your hair color. Glossy highlights become straw like and brassy if you spend too much time in the sun, red hair goes orange and looks bleached. If you know you are going to spend a lot of time in the sun apply a UV protection product to your hair and repeat application every few hours to keep color treated hair looking fresh.
Chlorine Will Destroy Your Hair Color
Chlorine can turn blonde hair green in the pool, and will bleach color treated hair and fade hair color quicker than you can book another appointment at your colorist. However, there are several products that will protect your hair from chlorine and keep your hair looking great, even if you are a frequent swimmer. Just remember to apply them religiously, and wash chlorine out of hair as soon as you exit the pool.
How To Fix Faded Hair Color Without Dying Again
If you hate your faded hair color but don’t want to dye your hair again so soon, there are ways to fix it. The easiest one is using a glossing treatment at home to replenish pigment and keep your hair looking freshly colored. Deposit only glossing treatments are deeply conditioning treatments which deposit pigment on your hair. They are usually used after washing your hair, as a conditioning mask and left for up to 30 minutes. You will need to do this regularly as they wash away quickly.
A cheap version of this, which works particularly good on red hair, is using conditioner mixed with a fashion dye in the desired shade (for example, a warm fire red) once a week. The conditioner will keep the color from being too vibrant but allow the deposit-only pigments to add brightness to your look. This also works great to keep rainbow dyes and pastel hair dye looking good for longer, as you will be replacing the lost pigment with the conditioner mix.
If you are a blonde worried about your hair going brassy then you’ll need to use a purple or violet shampoo regularly to compensate for the brassy yellow and orange undertones. You can also use a hair toner for brassy hair at home or as a glossing service at your hairdresser every few weeks. This won’t damage your hair but will brighten up and refresh your blonde look.
If you use the right products and treat your color treated hair with care and love you will avoid faded hair color until your next hair color appointment is due.