If you’ve been coloring your hair for as many years as some of us have, it will come as no surprise to you that color-treated hair requires a little more TLC than hair that hasn’t been dyed with permanent hair color, highlighted, bleached, etc. If you use hot tools on top of that, wash your hair regularly (most of us do), and love to test-drive mini hairstyling samples from Ulta and Sephora (who doesn’t?), it can all be a little much for your color-treated hair. Bottom line? If you want your hair to look and feel its best, it’s helpful to stick to a hair routine with plenty of hydrating, color-safe products with nurturing ingredients. This will help with everything from color fading to split ends. Think of it as similar to sticking to a nightly skincare routine...and to be honest, this is easier, since most of these steps aren’t an everyday thing.
So where should you start? Well, you’re in luck—we put together a little cheat sheet to jumpstart your hair care routine for color-treated hair. Follow our five-step routine below to learn exactly which products you should be using, in what order, and how frequently...so you’ll be able to not just maintain your colored hair, but keep it looking absolutely healthy and gorgeous.
The perfect routine for color-treated hair
Step 1: Color
Okay, you know the drill: color your hair at home, at whatever weekly or monthly cadence you prefer. But if you haven’t tried Color + Gloss yet—what we like to call the Perfect Pair—you’ll be surprised how Gloss makes your color look so healthy and shiny when you use it instead of permanent hair color on your mid-lengths and ends.
Most professional colorists actually don’t recommend applying permanent hair color all over every time you color, as that will eventually make your color look too dark and dull. Hence, our 2-step salon-based system: permanent color for gray coverage on your roots, semi-permanent gloss on your mid-lengths and ends to freshen up your color and add lots of healthy-looking shine and dimension. When you’ve finished applying both color + gloss, gently run a wide-toothed comb through your hair or use your fingers for even distribution. Then, let your color and gloss process together. If there’s blending, even better...it’s all part of the gorgeous process.
Step 2: Protect
Washing, exposure to the sun, swimming, too-tight hair ties, hot tools...all of the following can be rough on color-treated hair. As the saying goes, only you can protect your hair color. So if you can, wait a full 72 hours (after the initial post-coloring wash) to lather and rinse your newly-colored locks. And it goes without saying, but every single time you wash your hair, you must use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner—our Color Protecting Shampoo + Conditioner set was designed specifically to lock in color, prevent fading, and nourish color-treated hair.
Want more shower safety tips for colored hair? Wash hair less often—dry shampoo? You know her—and when you do hop in the shower, avoiding hot water will help preserve your color longer, and cold water will actually help seal the hair cuticle. (Admittedly, we love a hot shower, but we just might love vibrant, fresh hair color even more.) If you have curly hair and you rely on that AM shower to keep them bouncy, fill an empty spray bottle with water to spritz your curls every morning. No shampoo, no prob.
Step 3: Treat
So, you know that feeling when your hair just needs...something? Maybe your strands feel too dry, look a little dull, or are breaking off more when you brush. Enter our 4 professional-strength hair treatments—the Pro Boosts, for when your hair needs a boost of something to look and feel its best.
Use these five-minute treatments in place of conditioner either after you color, or once weekly. If you have long hair, we recommend doubling up. Choose between Hydrate (to fight frizz), Shine (to luminize and smooth your locks), Strength (to repair damage and fortify your hair), and Seal (to help lock in color and help your color not fade too quickly).
Step 4: Mask
Try a color depositing hair mask, and you’ll never go back—it’s basically a magic secret conditioner that also helps keep your hair looking freshly colored. We love Color Therapy because it adds intense hydration, deposits color where your hair needs it most, and best of all, you can use it instead of your conditioner (just let it sit for a bit longer). Our nourishing, color-depositing formula refreshes tone in only 5 minutes while conditioning—it’s so luxurious and effortless.
Use this in-shower treatment 2-3 times per week instead of conditioner. The more often you use it, the more color is deposited. Just wait 5 minutes for rich, natural-looking color and shine, and you’re done! Choose a shade that either neutralizes brassiness (we’ve got one for brunettes and one for blondes), adds warm chestnut tones or golden honey tones.
Step 5: Style
Your hair looks healthy, your color looks good, now it’s time to take your hair to the next level with this optional fifth step—styling! Use styling products made specifically for color-treated hair that are gentle on your color, don’t contain sulfates and parabens, and won’t cause premature color fading. You know, in addition to taking your hairstyle to that next level. Here are our four favorites, all developed specifically for color-treated hair:
If you want va-va-voom volume…use LOUD + PROUD™, our non-aerosol foam for instant body. Apply 2-4 pumps to damp hair, then blow dry or air dry. Big hair is back, baby.
If you want to meet your new best curl friend…use LET’S BOUNCE™, our curl-defining cream for soft, frizz-free flexible hold. Work a quarter-sized amount through damp hair prior to drying with a diffuser or prior to air-drying.
If you want to smooth things over…try SLEEK ATTACK™, our smoothing, conditioning styling cream for soft, touchable hold and style. Add a quarter-sized amount to your hair before blow drying with a round brush for straight, silky results.
If you want to tame the mane…Tame it is! Our lightweight finishing cream is the perfect all-purpose styling product for all hair types to add a little extra polished shine. Just apply one pump to your ends when you’re done heat styling your hair—trust us, a little goes a long way.
So there you have it, your five-step routine for keeping your color-treated hair looking fresh, vibrant, and healthy. Will you be trying this routine at home? Let us know in the comments. Or, share the hair care routine that works for you and your hair color. We’re dye-ing to hear...