I’ll get straight to it: I recently bleached and dyed my hair a metallic, pastel shade of pink. After a year of trying to live my life as a brunette (only half-heartedly), I succumbed back to my old hair-coloring ways.
Pink hair might be a new thing for me, but I’m no stranger to color-safe hair products. I spent a decade getting my hair colored at the salon in a wide range of red tones which not only wash out quickly, but rapidly fade under the sun. When salon visits proved too pricey an option for my extra long hair, I resorted to dying it myself with the help of multiple mirrors so I could ensure not a single hair strand was missed.
Pink hair has brought some new challenges, for sure. My hair is much drier and unless I add some moisture to it in the form of hair serums or deep conditioning masks, I find it can easily start looking brittle. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years of caring for my hair, though, it’s this: Be gentle to your hair and it will be kind in return.
I’ve learned, too, that keeping your hair color looking fresh comes down to three things: 1) Avoid unnecessarily washing out the color. 2) Prolong the time in between washes with the right products and hairstyles. And 3) Protect it from the sun’s rays, which can quickly fade bright colors.
Here are the best ever products I’ve accounted over the years.
The Color-Safe Shower Options
Lesson number one: Sulfate-free shampoos are your friend. Conversely, hot water is not your friend. There’s some debate about whether or not sulfate-free shampoos actually prevent hair color from fading but I’m in the camp that they’re a good option because they’re much gentler and they don’t strip your scalp of natural oils that are necessary for keeping your strands healthy.
Using color-safe shampoos when you’ve dyed your hair is a must, since normal shampoos might be harsh on your already-delicate stands. You know how some shampoos create a really nice lather with plenty of soapy suds? You do not want this with color-treated hair. When you dye your hair, especially with a really bright color, all those extra suds are basically scrubbing each of your hair strands more than necessary. And that means, you’re releasing the dye particles (the color!) into the water when you shower. Imagine your money going down the drain. At least, I do.
Washing your hair in lukewarm—ideally cool—water prevents it from further fading. I’m a fan of these particular sulfate-free shampoos, from L’Oreal and Bumble and Bumble. L’Oreal’s sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner are good options if you’re not looking to spend more than needed, but conversely, Bumble and Bumble’s shampoo and conditioner costs a little more, but it leaves hair softer and more manageable if you’re in a rush and not looking to add other products.
The Texture and Volume Tricks
When you’re avoiding washing your hair on the regular (it: me), dry shampoos are a game-changer. I remember once, in my teens, I tried using talc powder and all I ended up with was hair coated in something worse-looking than dandruff. The right dry shampoo, though, will soak up excess oil on your scalp and help extend the time in-between hair washes without any residue.
The trick is that you usually have to shake the product and spray it under different sections of your hair. Then, you wait a few minutes for it to absorb before massaging what’s left into your scalp. Sometimes I’ll go over my hair with a blow dryer just to make sure that there’s nothing left over.
This dry shampoo from Batiste gets the job done quickly without leaving any residue on my scalp. An added bonus of dry shampoos is they add a bit of volume to your hair, which makes it easier to hide dirty strands. On days when I’m looking for even extra volume, though, I’ll use the SexyBigHair dry shampoo. A little goes a long way with this one, but I’ll admit it can have a harsh scent. This thickening spray from Not Your Mother’s is great for adding volume in the form of texture throughout the bottom half of your hair. I spray a few pumps in my hand and scrunch strands upward for a quick and easy day look.
The Daily Touch Tools
Okay, so you’ve got your hair washing (and not-washing) routine down. The next thing is making sure to not lose any shine or color. That’s where serums and sprays come into play. A good serum like this one from Nick Arrojo (of What Not to Wearfame) is good for adding some quick shine and moisture to the bottom of your hair strands. Trust me when I say all you need is a dime or quarter-sized amount for your whole hair. I rub it in my palms and then work from the back of my head to the front.
This It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In spray is also another, well, miracle-worker. It’s a great thing to just spritz and comb through for some added luster or you can use before styling with a curler or straightener.
And, last but not least, is the hair spray and a general color protectant spray. This one from Paul Mitchell is great for those days under the sun. Your hairspray can also do double-duty.
The L’Oreal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray is a long-time favorite because of how easily it holds a hairstyle without any crunchiness. It can easily be combed through or built up for extra hold power. I’m a big fan of this one which has UV filters that help protect my hair even more from fading.