Have you ever wondered what makes hair color fade so quickly and what can be done about it?
According to Candice Whitman, a Redken Certified Colorist at Elle & Elle Salon in Peoria, Illinois, hair color fades for two reasons: either the color didn’t penetrate the hair properly, or something allows it to escape.
Improper color formulation, not leaving the color on the hair to process long enough, not filling the hair when going darker, and even certain medications can prevent the color from fully penetrating the hair. The finished color may look fine at first, but soon after hair may lose its luster.
This seasoned hair pro also acknowledges that gray hair can also be very resistant to accepting color as its outermost layer becomes thicker and harder to penetrate. Also, hair that has already been compromised from previous chemical services will require some extra treatments before coloring to allow it to accept the color evenly and prevent it from fading.
All of the issues above are reasons why it’s important always to have color work done in the salon and only by a qualified colorist. That way you ensure proper formulation and application for your hair type and condition.
When it comes to color escaping, there are several factors all related to the condition of the cuticle. “The cuticle layer of the hair acts as a sort of “gatekeeper.” The sun, heat from styling tools, poor quality products, and the biggest culprit, water, can all swell open hair’s cuticle layer and lead to color loss,” says Whitman.
With water being the number one contributor to fading, Whitman suggests extending the life of your color by shampooing less often. Use dry shampoos when you need a refresh and when you do shampoo, use cool water. Also, replace the moisture and protein that color can take out with treatments and masks as prescribed by your colorist. In addition, keep your hair covered when you are in the sun or a tanning bed and always use a heat protectant before styling.
Another fade factor is the pH of shampoos and conditioners. The normal pH of hair is between 4.5 to 5.5, and anything higher than this range can cause the cuticle to swell and color molecules to escape. And to top it off, the pH of water is 7. So, just the act of washing your hair swell the cuticle and allows the color to escape. The remedy is using professional shampoos and conditioners that are closer to or lesser than your hair’s natural pH balance, which will close down the cuticle layer and help keep your color vibrant, longer.
Having professional color done is an investment, so be sure to protect the time and money put into your hair by using the proper aftercare. When asked what one should look for in a good color care shampoo and conditioner, Whitman answered, “My best advice is to read the ingredients! Not all products are created equal and many that claim to be for color-treated hair contain color fading/blocking ingredients such as Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth (or Lauryl) Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, and Dimethicone. There are also many great pigmented shampoos and conditioners on the market that can help breathe a little life back into your color as needed.”