5 ways to keep dyed hair brighter for longer

Dyed hair is a fabulous way to express your colourful personality, so it can be disappointing when it fades too quickly.

In this post, we’ll be exploring why your vibrant locks might be turning muted and what you can do to help your coloured hair to stay bright for weeks on end.

Why does dyed hair fade?

As you probably know, all coloured hair fades eventually if you go long enough without refreshing it. But why?

When you use permanent or semi-permanent colour in your style, it’s not just staining the outside of each hair. In most dyes, ammonia or MEA are used to swell and lift the cuticle (the protective outside layer of a hair) so the colour can get inside your hair cortex, where your natural pigment is usually found. The cuticle will then close again, trapping the colour inside.

However, activities like washing your hair or using heated tools can cause the cuticle to open again or become damaged, allowing some of the colour to escape.

But water and hair products aren’t the only culprit. Annoyingly, UV rays from the sun don’t only fade the dye, but tend to expose what remains of the natural pigment in your hair, muddying your chosen colour.

Why do some colours fade more quickly than others?

Red famously fades quicker than many other dye colours. This is partially due to the size of the molecules in this dye and partly because red dyes often include high levels of Pheomelanin, which is particularly light sensitive.

You might also find that light or unnatural colours – like pastel blue or purple – fade faster than you are expecting. For these colours to show up in your hair in the first place, it is often necessary to bleach it thoroughly beforehand. This process can make your hair more porous, meaning it’s easier for the dye to come out.

Browns usually go the longest without fading, but this can depend on your natural hair colour and type. If you’re considering a new colour but aren’t sure how long it’s likely to last in your hair, you can always talk to your stylist before you make the leap.

Whatever colour you choose, there’s a few time-trusted ways to save it from a premature fade…

1. Wash it Less

Over-washing is the enemy of vibrant hair, particularly if you’re using hot water. While permanent dye won’t wash off the surface of your hair the way temporary dye might, hot water and hair products can cause the cuticles in your hair to open, allowing the dye to escape or dissolve in the wash.

Try to only wash your hair every two or three days if possible, using scalp massages and colour-safe dry shampoo to tide you over between washes.

2. Hydration, hydration, hydration

Yeah, I know we just said to wash less, but there’s lots of other ways to get a good level of moisture into your locks.

The chemicals used to colour your hair can dry it out or make it more difficult for each strand to absorb moisture. Not only does this mean that your hair won’t look as shiny, but dry, porous hair might also loose its colour more quickly, as the cuticle won’t be effectively sealing the pigment inside.

A few ways to restore it include oil treatments, hair masks (we like the ones from kerastase) and maintaining a healthy diet.

3. Turn Down the Heat

As we just talked about, coloured hair is prone to some dryness anyway, so it can be easily damaged by hot tools like straighteners and curling wands. Even hairdryers can take their toll.

If you don’t want to ditch your straighteners entirely, at least try to limit your use or experiment with lower heat settings. You might also see some good results by complimenting your heat routine with conditioner or heat protection cream.

4.  Review your Products

To keep your hair in peak condition, it’s important to use colour-safe products, particularly when it comes to shampoo. Since shampoo is made to remove oil and deposits from your hair, it often removes some dye along with everything else.

Colour protecting products are much less harsh than regular shampoo and prevent your cuticle from lifting. They also often include additional moisturising ingredients.

If you’re unable to attain colour-protecting products, gentler shampoos will also ease the strain on your colour. Something to avoid at all costs are products containing alcohol or sulphates, as these can quickly strip the dye from your hair.

5. Shield from UV

Have you seen how sunlight fades photographs and soft furnishings? It does the same thing to your hair!

Not only that, but UV rays can also bring out your natural colour more, which can change the overall effect of your hair dye.

On the other hand, spending some time out in the sun is also beneficial for your wellbeing and producing vitamin D. So what to do?

If you’re planning to spend lots of time out in bright sunlight, you might just choose to protect your hair and make headscarves and hats part of your style next summer.

If you want to go for something a bit more subtle, you could invest in hair sunscreen. These can come as sprays, oils and creams and aim to protect your hair from UV rays. Some of these products even additionally protect from chlorine and salt water in case you fancy a swim.

Still have questions?

 If you’re ever unsure about how to care for coloured hair, the stylists at NOCO are happy to help.

Our free hair consultations give you the chance to ask all the questions you want about your new colour before your appointment. We will always give honest advice to help you choose a style and colour that makes you feel like every day’s a great hair day.

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