Nothing lasts forever, and that’s definitely true about hair color. It’s heartbreaking, that first time I wash your hair after I’ve visited the salon to have your hair colored. My throat gets tight every time I watch the water circle the drain, slightly tinted by the brilliant shade my stylist so carefully applied. In the past few years, I’ve gone from blonde to purple to blonde and back again, and I needed to know: how do I keep my hair color from fading so fast?
I chatted with colorist Kaitlin Jorgenson at Scott J Aveda Salon in Brooklyn Heights, NY, to get some expert tips.
Kaitlin’s first tip is for before you even get your hair colored. If you don’t have time for a visit every six weeks to manage your roots, she recommends trying a shadow root, where your natural color is gradually faded down the shaft into blonde. “It’s a softer grow-out, so it requires less maintenance.”
Go for a rooted blond treatment for a lower-maintenance look.
Still, blonde hair requires toner to keep it from getting yellow or brassy, and toner, like any hair color, fades after a while. “I typically have [my clients] come in every 6 to 8 weeks to refresh the tone.” And in between visits, Kaitlin sends them home with tinted conditioner. Saturated in blue or violet shades, these conditioners are made to counteract blonde hair that’s going too yellow.
Try this: Blondes Baby Blonde Conditioner by Rusk ($14.61)
Minimize the effects of heat styling. When it comes to natural colors, “it’s the direct heat applied to hair that causes fading,” says Kaitlin. And because it’s not realistic to expect her clients to avoid the hair dryer or flat iron, she highly recommends applying a heat protectant before styling.
Try this: Botanical Blends Healthy Hair Growth and Heat Protection Oil ($16.99)
The single best thing you can do to maintain a vibrant unicorn color is to wash your hair as little as possible. When your hair starts looking dingy, pull it into a ponytail or spray it with some dry shampoo.
Try this: Batiste Dry Shampoo (starting at $6.49)
Unicorn colors require less shampooing, more maintenance.
When you have no other choice but to shampoo, check out co-wash. Short for “conditioner wash,” co-washes were originally formulated for curly tops, but they’re also good for colored hair. Focus on the roots, where the oils accumulate—”the fewer bubbles, the less harsh it will be on your hair color.”
Another, less optimal tip, at least for me, is to wash your hair with water as cold as you can stand it.
Try this: Aunt Jackie's Flaxseed Purify Me, Co-Wash Cleanser ($6.98)
Finally, when you condition, consider a color-depositing conditioner. You might not be able to match the exact shade of your hair, but the color will at least stay more saturated for longer. Kaitlin recommends the conditioners over the shampoos, as the pH “can be harsh on colored hair.”
Try this: CHI Ionic Color Illuminate Conditioner ($13.99)