Colorists reveal why you need to be using a shampoo for color-treated hair, and share their favorite product picks.
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No matter whether you visit the salon regularly or go the DIY route, if you've made the commitment to coloring your hair, you undoubtedly are going to want to make your new hue last for as long as possible. There are many different things that can go into safeguarding your shade, the shampoo you use being one of the most important.

TL;DR: You definitely should be using a shampoo for color-treated hair if you are, in fact, coloring your hair. Ahead, experts explain exactly why, and share their favorite product picks.

What Causes Color Fading?

First and foremost, it's important to note that it's actually water and not shampoo that is color's number one worst enemy, says colorist Kristin Fleming, color director at Chicago's 3rd Coast Salon. Hair color fades when the cuticle — the outermost layer of the hair — is open and the dye molecules can essentially slip out, she adds. The hotter the water is in your shower, the more it will open your cuticle and the more you'll see color changes, says Guy Tang, colorist and founder of hair color brand Mydentity. The minerals found in hard water can also fade your color as well.

So, before talking about shampoo, keep in mind that the best way to preserve your color is to try and stretch the amount of time between washes (hello, dry shampoo) and when you do wash, keep the water cool to warm, says Tang. And, you guessed it, make sure you're using a shampoo for colored hair. (Related: The Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo, According to Experts)

How Are Shampoos for Colored-Treated Hair Different?

This isn't just marketing hype, according to the experts here. Rather, there are legit differences in the formulations between these shampoos and others. First, "color-safe shampoos don't contain sulfates, the main ingredient you want to avoid, because they're the harshest cleansing ingredients that can strip out the dye," explains Fleming. Secondly, they're usually more moisturizing since they contain ingredients such as vitamin B5, coconut oil, and argan oil to help add moisture and may contain proteins to help strengthen the hair. Why does that matter? It goes back to that open cuticle principle. Hydrated hair will have a tighter, more closed cuticle so the color is less likely to slip out, says Fleming. Similarly, stronger hair will also better be able to hold onto color better. Finally, shampoos for colored-treated hair are specially formulated at a pH level to ensure that the cuticle remains closed and the color molecules stay in, notes Tang.

So, Do You Really Need One?

Shampoo specifically for color-treated tresses can go a long way in helping you keep your shade fresh and vibrant, ultimately even helping you go slightly longer in between colorings. It is worth noting, however, that if your hair is bleached or highlighted, it's a little bit of a different situation. "Highlighted hair isn't colored hair. You've removed the color so there's nothing to preserve," says Fleming. In this instance, you want to seek out more reparative, hydrated formulas to help combat some of the damage that the lightening process causes in the hair. That being said, if you are adding any kind of color, stock a dedicated shampoo in the shower and thank the experts later. (Related: The 9 Best Purple Shampoos to Cut Down On Brassiness)

Without further ado, check out the 10 best shampoos for color-treated hair, below.

Best Moisturizing Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair: Milbon Replenishing Shampoo

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This under-the-radar salon brand may not yet be well-known among consumers, but it's a long-time staple for pro stylists. Tang says this pick is great because it both safeguards color and also imparts tons of moisture. Also nice? "It creates a really nice lather that sometimes you don't get from color-safe shampoos," he adds. (Related: How to Make Your Hair Color Last and Keep It Looking ~Fresh to Death~)

Best Drugstore Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair: Nexxus Color Assure Sulfate-Free Shampoo

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Per Fleming's point about colored hair benefiting from a protein boost, this formula offers exactly that. It contains a combo of elastin and quinoa protein to add back lost nutrients and strengthen strands, as well as boost the vibrancy of your color. So much so, in fact, that it extends color for up to 40 washes.

Best Shampoo and Conditioner System for Color-Treated Hair: Pureology Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner Duo

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If you color your hair, the shampoo you use is undoubtedly more important than the conditioner you use —  but if you're one of those people who prefers to always have a matching set in their shower, try this duo. "The lather, slip, and hydration both products deliver make your color look reflective and the hair feel healthy," says Tang. The set gets bonus points for the invigorating minty-herbal scent, a nice pick-me-up on sleepy mornings.

Best Strengthening Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair: Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo

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"This is the shampoo I recommend the most," says Fleming. (That's not surprising, given that it's the at-home shampoo variant of a hugely popular protective in-salon treatment that's often paired with coloring services.) "Not only is it sulfate-free, it also helps repair the bonds in the hair that are broken during coloring. This in turn allows the strands to hold onto the color longer and generally makes the hair healthier at the same time," she explains. Sold. (Related: The $28 Leave-In Treatment That Transformed My Severely Damaged Hair)

Best Shine-Enhancing Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair: Shu Uemura Color Lustre Brilliant Glaze Shampoo

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The shinier your hair, the better your color will look, which is why Fleming also loves this pick. She lauds it for containing goji berry extract, which offers antioxidant protection that helps protect against fading and adds a mirror-like shine and vibrancy to strands. It also contains musk rose oil, a good ingredient for lightweight hydration, she says.

Best Color-Depositing Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair: dpHUE Cool Brunette Shampoo

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A little different than the rest of the options on the list, a color-depositing shampoo can be a good way to ensure your tone stays true and vibrant, says Fleming. (Because no matter how well you take care of your hair, the color will inevitably start to change and fade overtime.) She recommends using one every five shampoos. As the name suggests, this one is ideal for brunettes, thanks to its cool blue pigments that work to neutralize unwanted, orange, red and brassy tones. (Related: How to Refresh Your Hair Color At Home)

Best Vegan Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair: R+Co Gemstone Color Shampoo

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For those seeking a vegan option, Fleming says this pick is ideal for protecting and conserving color. It's sulfate-free and prolongs vibrancy for up to 10 washes. Plus, it as the added benefit of containing protective antioxidants (think: vitamin E and lychee extract) along with sunflower sprout extract to moisturize and tamp down errant frizzies.

Best Softening Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair: Kérastase Reflection Bain Chromatique

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Per the previous point about H2O being color's worst enemy, this sudser contains linseed oil, an ingredient that actually repels water so not as much gets into the hair shaft, explains Fleming, who names this as another one of her favorites. "There's also moisturizing vitamin E in the formula, which leaves the hair incredibly soft and smooth while also preserving the color." (Related: The 6 Most Common Hair Problems and How to Fix Them, According to Pros)

Best High-Tech Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair: Living Proof Color Care Shampoo

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This brand was developed in partnership with an MIT scientist, so you know its products are going to rely on some fancy, science-driven ingredients. This beloved shampoo is no different. It touts the brand's unique healthy hair molecule, which helps keep hair cleaner for longer (in other words, you'll be able to stretch out the time between washes for sure). Being sulfate-free, it instead relies on gentle detergents that optimize rather than strip your color, plus a chelating agent to remove minerals found in hard water than can dull your shade.

Best Universal Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair: Redken Color Extend Shampoo

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Fleming lauds this fan favorite for relying on gentle cleansing agents coupled with plenty of moisturizers to leave hair feeling soft and the color extra shiny. There are also UV filters in the mix, which Fleming says are great to look for in a color-safe shampoo, given that sun exposure can cause unwanted color fading and changes.