You are here

Hair Color Guide: Top Tips for Keeping Your Color Longer


Tired of spending time and money achieving the perfect hue, only to watch it quickly fade away? Here, top hair colorists give us shade-specific plans that promise to keep your color looking vibrant longer.

Brilliant Blonde Hair Color: Keep it Longer
Sun and chlorine do a job on blond hair color, giving them an orange or green cast, says Rachel Bodt, senior colorist at NYC’s Cutler Salon. Blondes also have to deal with dry, dull strands—the result of overexposure to color-stripping chemicals. Keeping your blonde hair color gorgeous means doing these things:

Use a deep conditioner the day before coloring
This coats porous blonde hair (think: filling potholes on a road), allowing it to take color evenly, says Rita Hazan, owner of NYC’s Rita Hazan Salon. Try Ojon Revitalizing 2-Minute Hair Mask ($34;

Attach a water purifier to your showerhead This stops chemicals found in tap water, like chlorine and copper, from altering blonde hair color.

Pick up a purple shampoo
The royal hue cancels out yellow and orange tones blondes can get from sun exposure, says Bodt. Try Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo (Blonde & Silver) ($17;

Quench thirsty strands
Hydrate your hair, from roots to ends, every time you shampoo. One we recommend: Ion Color Defense After-Color Sealer ($6; You can also revive dull, dry strands by applying a moisturizing serum, such as Avon Advance Techniques Daily Shine Smooth & Shine Capsules ($8; with coconut oil, from mid-shaft to ends.

Build body
"Constantly bleaching your hair can remove multiple cuticle layers from the hair shaft, causing it to become thinner over time," says Hazan. To instantly boost thickness, use a volumizer like John Frieda Luxurious Volume Bountiful Body Mousse ($6; at For a long-term solution, condition frequently to keep the layers of the hair shaft healthy. Coloring your hair less often helps pump up volume too. Styling it right can keep hair healthy, too. Try these techniques.

BEAUTY AWARDS: Best Hair Products from the 2010 SHAPE of Beauty Awards

Radiant Red Hair Color
Fiery strands suffer most from premature fading because the red dye molecules are larger than those in other shades, says Marie Robinson, owner of Marie Robinson Salon in NYC. Translation: Red hair color slips out of the hair shaft more quickly. Keep it where it belongs:

Wait 24 hours post–coloring to wash
"Detergents in shampoos can open up the cuticle too soon, rinsing away some of the red hair dye," says Pepper Pastor, owner of Pepper Pastor Salon in NYC. When it's safe to finally suds up, use a formula without harsh cleansers (aka sulfates) that strip red hair color.

Wash hair less often
Shampooing daily can fade your shade fast.

Commit to conditioner
"Your hair holds onto dye better if it's healthy," says Hazan, who recommends using a deep-conditioning mask once a month. Try Fekkai Advanced Salon Technician Rapid Results Moisture Mask ($35;, which also blocks UV rays. (Too much sun can affect any color, but red hair color bleaches the fastest.)

Beat the heat
Styling tools, like blow-dryers and irons, can make your hair porous, allowing the color to seep out more easily. Drying it out at high temps also causes it to lose its luster. To avoid both scenarios, spritz on a thermal protectant before styling, use the lowest heat setting possible, and opt for finishing products formulated for a dyed ‘do. Check out L'Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Hold Hairspray for Color Treated Hair ($14;

Go for a glaze
Apply a glaze (or gloss) after four weeks to boost shine and intensify red hair color without altering it. One to try: Beyond the Zone Glam Street Glazes in Jaw-Dropping Red ($7;

BONUS: 8 Strategies for Banishing Bad Hair Days

Beautiful Brunette Hair Color
"While brown hair colors have more staying power than red ones, the color still changes over time," says Bodt. With sun exposure, excessive washing, and styling, the dye molecules do a disappearing act, leaving your hue looking brassy. But these tips can keep it lustrous longer:

Use a clarifying shampoo the day before coloring
This formula contains more acetic acid than regular cleansers, enabling it to thoroughly remove any product buildup. This reveals the actual amount of fading at the roots, allowing your colorist to choose the correct shade of brunette.

Swap in a gentle shampoo
After giving brown hair color 24 hours to sink in, lather up with a sulfate-free shampoo. Check out Bed Head TIGI Styleshots Extreme Shampoo ($16;

Use SPF on your strands
Spritzing on a sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays can prevent brown hair color from fading. Try Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil ($26;

Handle textured hair with care
Condition your tresses one day before coloring (unless you normally relax your hair) so it accepts the brown hair color better, says Robinson. Try Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition 3-Minute Undo Dryness Reversal Treatment ($6; at drugstores).

Cover grays with ease
In a pinch, camouflage stubborn silver strands with black or brown waterproof mascara, or you can use a temporary brown hair colorant that washes out, like TouchBack Hair Marker by ColorMark ($30; For long-term coverage, apply a permanent solution on roots and a semi-permanent formula on the rest of your hair (using permanent dye on mid-shaft and ends makes them too dark) to blend the color evenly.