Preserve Your Hair Colour

There’s no getting around it—keeping your single-process hair colour or balayage highlights pristine is a major undertaking. And showing up to the salon for touch-ups is just the beginning, especially during the summertime when exposure to the sun's rays and salt water can leave strands faded and parched.

“It’s a joint effort,” says LA-based celebrity colourist Matt Rez. “If a client doesn’t do their work to maintain their hair at home, I can’t do my job in the salon. The integrity of the hair comes first!” Here, Rez and other pro colourists share their advice for how to extend the life of colour and keep hair healthy in between appointments.


Be in tune with the hair colour cycle

“When you first get your colour done, it’s perfect,” says French colourist Stephane Pous. “But after two weeks, it becomes less shiny and the colour begins to lose the tone. Then, after four weeks, the roots will begin to show and you’ll lose even more of that initial tone and shine.” Keeping this general cycle in mind, you can make adjustments and recalibrate your routine accordingly to slow down the fading process.

A good rule of thumb is to look for products free of sulphates and silicones, as the former can dry out the hair, while the latter can cause build-up that eventually leads to breakage, says Rez. And then there’s ammonia, which is a popular ingredient used for depositing hair colour as the alkaline chemical opens up the hair cuticle, allowing for dye to penetrate deeper. “Although it’s quick and easy, in the long run ammonia will ultimately irritate the skin, damage the hair, and turn the colour quickly,” Pous cautions.

Hair stylist prepares woman makes curls hairstyle with curling iron. Long light brown natural hair

Don’t over-wash hair

While how often you wash is subjective to lifestyle and hair type, doing so less frequently could help you maintain colour. One to three times a week is the sweet spot for colour-treated hair, says Rez. “If you are a once-a-day person, make sure to invest heavily in moisture products to reinforce all the natural oils your hair loses from constant washes,” he advises. To further safeguard strands, a prewash treatment, such as the introductory step in Redken’s Color Extend Bonder Kit, can offer an extra layer of protection. For instances of “creative colour” as editorial colourist Lena Ott likes to call the fluorescent, candy-coloured shades for which her salon Suite Caroline has become known, try two-in-one cleansing creams, which bridge the gap between washing and moisturising by offering a gentler cleanse. Ott’s favourite? Christoph Robin’s Cleansing Mask with Lemon. “There aren’t sulphates, so it doesn't bubble up or leave a residue feeling in the hair,” she explains.


Deep condition whenever possible

“Dry and damaged hair will not hold colour as long as hydrated hair will,” Pous says. “Without nourishing treatments, your colour will disappear quicker.” You can seek out a more universal colour-treated hair mask, such as Shu Uemura’s Color Lustre Brilliant Glaze Treatment Masque, or a tinted conditioning treatment tailored to your shade. Joining forces with Leonor Greyl, Pous helped formulate the French brand’s new colour-enhancing Soin Repigmentant range, which features five shades that combine colour-enhancing pigments with nourishing ingredients such as rice proteins, babassu butter, and meadow-foam seed oil.

Keep heat styling to a minimum

Of all the different factors, Rez finds that excessive heat style, as well as a lack of heat protectant in tandem with hot tools, is what can be most compromising to colour. Ott agrees. “Frequently using irons or other hot tools will fade your colour quickly!” she warns, adding that Iles Formula’s Haute Performance Finishing Serum, a robust mix of nut oils and vitamins that acts as a strengthening screen upon the hair, is her go-to protectant whenever necessary.