Protecting Your Hair From Color Fade

Protect your hair color

Did you know that upwards of 85% of women in the US color their hair on a regular basis? During the pandemic, the amount of DIY hair coloring jobs skyrocketed, meaning now more than ever, we need some guidance on caring for color-treated hair. Whether you’re coloring your hair at home or visiting a salon, the reality is it’s a big commitment of time and money. Your hair often looks its best right after you get done with a color treatment, and it would be amazing if it kept the deep, full color for an extended length of time. Unfortunately, many of us experience color fade, and it can be hard to determine what’s causing your hair to look lackluster. Let’s look at the causes, preventions, and our top products to prevent color fade. 

Causes of Hair Color Fade

Many things can cause your hair color to fade, from environmental factors to the products that you use every day. Sun damage is a primary culprit, so you can consider wearing a sunhat, scarf, or turban when you head to the beach or pool. Even if you’re riding around with the top down or the sunroof open, the sun can quickly affect your hair. If you don’t want to cover your locks up when you’re out and about, you should invest in some hair products with sunscreen, which can significantly impact color fade.

Other causes of fading color include washing your hair too often or in really hot water, abrasive hair products (especially those with alcohol as a main ingredient), and exposing it to harsh chemicals like chlorine on a consistent basis. And if you style your hair with heat every day, you aren’t doing yourself, your hair, or your deep lush color any favors. What’s nice is these are all causes that you can easily avoid, inducing your hair color to last longer and remain more robust. 

Best Products for Color Protection

There are a lot of items on the market that can protect your hair and prevent color fade, and they aren’t only used after you get done with your color treatment. One ingredient that works great when mixed with color is called Olaplex. You should also ask your hairdresser if they use this professional color additive or a version of it. It has the power to leave your color lustrous and sumptuous, but it’s not enough. You also need great home care too. There are several varieties of Olaplex available on the market, and some are only available to professional hairstylists. However, products like Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 Repairing Treatment can help you get the biggest bang for your buck out of your coloring jobs when used correctly.

Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing Treatment

After coloring your hair either at home or at the stylist, the products that you use will make a big impact on how your color holds up. Here are some of our top choices:


Let’s start with shampoos. Some salon professionals like for their clients to use a clarifying shampoo before getting a treatment to clean the shaft of any product residue that may disrupt color application. After having your hair colored, you should use a sulfate-free shampoo because it will help prevent fading color when you wash your hair.  

Our top pick is Ouai Medium Hair Shampoo‘s do-it-all formula because it tackles the most common concerns for your hair type. It is free of sulfates SLS and SLES, and parabens. It nourishes, strengthens, and adds shine to reduce frizz, split ends, and breakage. 

Ouai Medium Hair Shampoo


Some hair masks on the market today specialize in nourishing without sucking away color pigment. Check the instructions on any product to indicate if they offer this benefit because most hair masks can pull out color residue and cause fading. Regardless of what the instructions tell you, we recommend that when using a nourishing mask, it is best to use it after shampooing and before conditioning. Our top picks include Olaplex No 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask, and It’s a 10 Potion 10 Miracle Repair Hair Mask because both have the benefit of maintaining your color.

It's a 10 Haircare Potion Miracle Repair Hair Mask Olaplex Bond Intense Moisture Mask No 8


The hair colors that tend to fade the fastest are reds and browns, but just because you are a blonde, don’t think you’re getting off easy. Regardless of hair color, dying your hair will cause it to dry out faster than non-treated hair, but the trick is to use a great conditioner.

Using a quality conditioner is essential for preventing your hair from fading, especially after every permanent hair color. That’s because the structure of the hair shaft has been permanently changed. Think of your hair shaft compared to the texture of a snake’s skin with tiny scales on the outer surface. Permanent color lifts these scales, and unless you use a powerful conditioner to seal them shut, they will stay lifted, opening your hair to excessive dryness, dullness, and eventually breakage. When it comes to conditioning, we like Redken Extreme Conditioner or Nexxus Color Assure Conditioner

Nexxus Hair Color Assure Conditioner for color treated hair Redken Extreme Conditioner


Drying hair with high heat can be especially hazardous to color-treated hair, so when you’re using a hairdryer, keep the heat low. High heat dries out your hair and causes the color to fade right before your eyes (this is especially true with red hair). 

As an alternative, consider a microfiber towel specifically designed to dry your hair. There are many great hair turbans and towels on the market today that will gently remove excess water from your hair after washing, cutting the drying time in half and preventing unnecessary damage. 

Microfiber Anti-Frizz Drying Wrap Towels, 3 Pack


Now we get to the last part – protection. While you’ve done everything you can up to this point to prevent color fade, this is one of the most integral parts and offers a variety of options. First, you can use a leave-in conditioner or hair oil that will protect your hair from both styling tools and environmental factors. One of our top products is No. 7 Bonding Hair Oil, which is an ultra-lightweight, reparative styling oil that increases shine, softness, and color vibrancy while preventing heat damage. You can also consider using a cold styling brush instead of tools that rely on heat, which has been shown to dramatically cut down on hair damage. 

CryoCare The ColdBrush

Finally, as mentioned earlier, try to prevent your hair from sun damage. Cover it up with a cute hat or scarf, or use products with an SPF designed for your hair. We like Coola Scalp and Hair Mist with an SPF of 30. It’s lightweight and even offers up to 80 minutes of water protection so you can go for a swim. 

Coola Scalp and Hair Mist with an SPF of 30

There are few things better than having a great hair day – and preventing color fade and protecting your locks are the key to making this happen. After you leave the salon or get finished with your DIY hair color, keep in mind that home care is the key to maintaining the longevity of your color. By taking a little more time and investing in quality products, you’ll save yourself time and money in the long run. And look great doing it! 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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