16 Things You Don't Know Are Fading Your Hair Color

With summer quickly approaching, it's time to start boosting your color care. Here we share the top 16 most surprising ways you're ruining your dyed strands (and wasting money) without realizing it. 

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Styling Your Hair Every Day

Andrew Carruthers, director of education for Sam Villa, warns that excessive heat, which usually comes from styling, can destroy the molecules in hair color. “Color fading increased dramatically as the industry introduced higher heat irons,” he says, adding that you should look for tools that only reach a safe temperature for color-treated hair. This Sleekr Professional Straightening Iron ($150) from Sam Villa does just that with their unique color-treated setting. 


Washing Your Hair Too Often 

Because the chemicals in hair color make your hair more vulnerable to water, Maddison Cave, colorist at the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City, explains that you should avoid excessive rinsing. “Try washing your hair every other day or even every three days if you don’t get oily,” she says, also recommending using dry shampoo in between washes to keep it feeling clean.


Using Harsh Shampoo

Nelson Chan, celebrity stylist and founder of Nelson j Natural Salon in Beverly Hills, explains that the ingredients in shampoos and conditioners that contain sulfates and salts are often doing a number on your colored hair. “The solution is to look for sulfate-free and color-safe shampoos,” he says, adding that co-wash shampoos and non-foaming hair cleansers will also be the best for colored hair. “Try to mix conditioner with your shampoo to create a milder cleanser.”


Not Using a Thermal Protectant

Jim Markham, celebrity stylist and founder of ColorProof, says that heat protection is an absolute must if you’re using hot tools. “Heat styling can fry the cuticle, leaving hair frazzled, dry, damaged and broken over time.” Be sure to reach for a heat protectant every time you style to keep your color from fading and your hues looking bright. Try ColorProof's HeatProof Anti-Frizz Blow Dry Crème ($17) prior to styling to add a layer of both color and heat protection to your locks. 


Not Applying a Deep Conditioner Before Swimming

John Barrett, celebrity stylist and owner of the eponymous salon, explains that while wetting your hair before jumping into a pool filled with chlorine is a good option to prevent absorption and color fading, he says that applying a deep conditioner to your whole head before swimming is a great way to maximize color protection and stop any color altering.


Not Sealing Your Cuticles Before Washing

“Besides using sulfate-free/co-wash shampoo, apply coconut oil on the ends of your hair before shampooing to protect harsh water and shampoo from stripping your hair color,” advises Chan.


Never Using a Hair Mask

Celebrity hairstylist Ricardo Rojas says that after your hair has been exposed to the sun and/or chlorine, it's crucial to nourish it at it's most fragile state. "I like to do a nourishing jasmine or coconut hair mask every three weeks for my clients during the summer months.” If you don't have enough time to dedicate to a mask, reach for Sachajuan's Intensive Hair Oil ($50), formulated with argan and sea buckthorn oil, for the same effect minus the time commitment (apply it to damp or dry hair and style as usual). 


Not Rinsing Chlorine Out of Your Hair Before Drying

“Chlorine must be removed from hair before it dries,” says Carruthers, adding that once it’s dry, the chlorine bonds to the hair and it very difficult to remove. “If possible, hair should be rinsed with clean water before the chlorine water has a chance to dry.”


Dying Your Hair Red

“When considering which hues to dye your hair, maybe reconsider red,” advises Cave, explaining that while it’s glamorous, if it’s not your natural tone, the artificial red pigments tend to leave strands the fastest.


Failing to Apply a Leave-In Treatment Before Outdoor Activity

Chan explains that outdoor activities will fade hair color just like heat styling will, so creating a custom leave-in treatment to seal cuticles to lock in hair color before spending the day outdoors or styling is your best bet. “Mix 2 ounces of lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of coconut oil and 0.25 ounces of your favorite conditioner,” he says, adding that we should apply this treatment on hair before and after we go in the sun, and before we start heat styling to keep color intact. Fekkai's Pre-Soleil Hair Mist ($20) will also do the trick, as a UV filter coats your strands with every spritz, helping to lock in hydration and keep color fading at bay.


Washing With Hot Water

“Even if you are using the perfect shampoo for your hair type, water is a big contributor to fading,” explains Cave, adding that when washing your hair, the cooler the water temperature the better.


Using Alcohol-Based Products

Cave warns against using styling products with alcohol listed as one of the main ingredients, explaining that it can quickly dry your hair out, making the color fade much faster. 


Not Applying Sunscreen to Hair

“The sun produces harmful UVA/UVB rays, which can burn and damage hair drastically while also fading your color,” explains Markham. Chan adds that to keep strands and color protected, you can either wet your hair in the shower first and apply skin-grade sunblock, or you can use a mixture of 2 teaspoons of zinc with 6 ounces of coconut oil. Apply either one of these solutions to hair before exposing it to the sun or going swimming to keep color safe and thriving. If you're looking for a one-stop-shop, try Kérastase Bain Chroma Captive shampoo ($40), which protects against color fading while also imparting a UV filter to strands while you wash.


Not Soaking Your Hair Before Diving In

“Human hair is one of the most absorbent materials around,” says Carruthers, who says you should think about a dry sponge versus a wet sponge when it comes to soaking your hair. “When that dry sponge is submerged into chlorine-filled water, how much more of that chlorine will it absorb versus a sponge that has already been saturated with clean water?” Because of this absorbency, Carruthers says to thoroughly soak hair with clean water before jumping into a chlorine-filled pool to keep your hair color vibrant.


Not Using a Clarifying Shampoo

Markham explains that once a week, or as often as needed, you should use a clarifying shampoo to give hair a deep-clean of all the impurities your normal shampoos have missed that may cause color fading. If you’re a swimmer or find yourself in chlorine or salt water more often than not, be sure to use this formula two to three times a week. Plus, Markham explains that clarifying shampoos work well for removing hard water minerals, chlorine, medication and unsightly swimmer’s green.


Using Shampoos With Pigment

“Shampoos that have color pigment or color-depositing products can alter your dye-job and leave you with less-than-desirable results,” explains Barrett.