Like the rest of our beauty routines, hair color is an investment worth protecting. In order to get the most of your hair color and keep it looking vibrant for longer, there are certain things you must—and must not—do after you leave your colorist. We asked top hairstylists for their highest-recommended tips on how to keep color healthy and thriving long after you leave their chair.
Wait to wash your hair
Don’t wash your hair immediately after you get your color done, says celebrity hairstylist Glenn Ellis. “Wait 2-3 days after you get your hair colored so the color can set in your hair and not get washed out,” he instructs. Think you can stretch it? “Go as long as you can before your first shampoo at home,” says Lorena M. Valdes, colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. “This gives the hair time to hold on to as much color as it can.”
Use the right shampoo
When it comes time to wash, don’t just use any shampoo you have lying around. “This is my number-one must-do after getting your hair colored,” says celebrity hairstylist Jennifer Korab. “Choosing the correct shampoo after having your hair colored is a must. This plays a huge role in keeping hair color vibrant and helps keep the longevity of the color.”
Along with color-safe formulas, “use sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner,” says Ellis, noting that sulfates strip color and moisture out of your hair, “which can fade your color faster.” Korab also recommends choosing a sulfate free, color-safe shampoo. “Using a shampoo with harsh sulfates can strip your hair of the color.” Korab’s favorite shampoo is Pureology Hydrate ($36), which is “sulfate-free and contains an anti-fade complex which will help ensure your color lasts.”
Wash with lukewarm water
A hot shower might be just the thing to help calm a tense mind, but when it comes to your color, it’s a major no. “We all love hot showers, but it’s not good for our hair color,” explains Korab. “Washing your hair with hot water will open your hair’s cuticle, allowing your hair color to be washed out. By lowering the temperature to lukewarm or cool, this will close your hair’s cuticle, maintaining that beautiful color and helping to ensure shine.”
Stay away from clarifying products
Along with sulfates, Ellis suggests staying away from clarifying shampoos. “These shampoos are used to strip natural oils out of your hair, which will also strip out your color and leave the hair looking brassy.” Opt for a color-safe formula like Monday Haircare Color Protect Shampoo ($8) that cleanses strands while keeping color intact.
You might fold a skin-care mask into your self-care routine every now and then, but when it comes to the longevity of your color, experts say to make it a regular occurrence. “Healthy hair is more likely to hold color better,” says Valdes, who suggests masking every other week at minimum. “The more dry, damaged or dehydrated your hair is, the more likely it will be to get unpredictable color results.” Rodger Azadganian, hairstylist and founder of äz Craft Luxury Haircare, recommends masking at least twice a week “for that extra swagger and shine.” His favorite: äz Craft Luxury Haircare Remedy Restorative Masque ($45).
Always use a heat protectant
Further underlining the importance of healthy hair, Valdes says using a heat protectant is top priority, even when you’re air-drying. “This helps keep your hair healthier from external damage. Healthy hair holds color better and helps it fade less quickly.” If you’re working on damp hair, try spritzing BondiBoost Thermal and Heat Protectant Hair Spray ($20) throughout before heat styling. For air-dried styles or touching up your curls, drybar’s Hot Toddy Heat Protectant Mist ($30) sprays on dry for a quick, nonsticky refresh.
Pair your color with a treatment
According to Valdez, opting for a treatment the same day of your color service will give your strands the best chance of absorbing the most color. “Hair that has had the cuticles lifted or swelled—this happens while coloring or lightening—will absorb treatments a bit more while in that stage.”
Book a gloss
If your colorist recommends a gloss to maintain your color’s vibrancy, Valdes suggests pre-booking the appointment to fall six weeks after your color appointment. This will help retain color in between your appointments.