This is why your hair color fades so quickly

There’s nothing quite the feeling of stepping out of the salon with a fresh, new hair color. There’s also nothing quite so frustrating as when that gorgeous, professionally applied color starts to fade. Have you ever wondered why that happens? It mostly has to do with the type of color you have applied, your hair’s overall health, and how you care for it.  

Depending on the type of hair color that your colorist uses on you (ie. Permanent, semi or demi-permanent, or temporary color) it can last in your hair for anywhere from 6-30 washes. Which means that the more often you wash your hair, the faster your hair color will fade. This has everything to do with how hair color works with your hair shaft.

Basically, when you color-treat your hair, you cause a bit of damage to the hair shaft in order to allow the new color molecules to be deposited inside. Any damage that occurs 
after you color your hair will result in those molecules being released. The more color molecules that are released, the more fading you will see.  

Hair color fading due to washing 

Believe it or not, shampooing your hair aids and abets that process. There are two ways to minimize hair color fading due to shampooing: 

  1. Shampoo less. This has the double benefit of keeping your color vibrant while also allowing your scalp to recalibrate its oil production. This can lead to improved scalp and hair health later on.  
  2. Use a shampoo & conditioner specifically designed for color-treated hair. Typically, these products are sulfate free—like milk_shake color care shampoo & conditioner—which helps to preserve color, longer. 

Our popular color care family of products has been recently updated! milk_shake color maintainer shampoo is now sulfate free. This helps keep color preserved for longer, while still producing a satisfying foam. Complete your color-treated care regimen with our caramel-colored color maintainer conditioner and easy to apply color maintainer balm.


      It’s not only your shampoo that can be to blame for color fading during your cleansing process. Your water quality also plays a role. Hard water—that is water that has a lot of calcium and magnesium present—can create build-up. This causes hair to dry out and look dull and color to look less vibrant. 

      Alternatively, if your water has a lot of chlorine present, or you swim often, this could also be contributing to color fading. The answer to this lies in using a deep-cleansing shampoo or a shampoo specifically designed to remove chlorine, once per week in addition to your normal care routine.  

      Finally, the temperature of your water matters. If the water you shower with is too hot, it can cause the cuticle to expand, and release color molecules out of the hair shaft. Keep your shower a little on the cooler side if you can and consider “sealing” off your hair with a cold-water rinse at the end.  

      Hair color fading due to lifestyle factors 

      Do you use a lot of heat to style your hair? The heat from blow-dryers, curling wands, and flat irons can cause steam to be released into the hair shaft. This can make hair color fade faster as the color molecules get “pushed” out to make room for air bubbles produced by the steam. The good news is that using quality heat-protectant before using your styling tools can prevent this from occurring.  

      Similarly, hair that is exposed to the sun often can be more prone to color fading. UV rays from the sun have a powerful effect on skin and hair, so using a SPF daily and wearing a hat for protection can go a long way.  

      Finally, if your hair is very dry or porose, you can experience more color fading than usual. The answer here is to keep hair very hydrated by using a weekly hair mask or treatment (in the case of dryness) or using a color sealant after your color service (in the case of high-porosity). Your colorist can prescribe the best products for you to maintain your hair health and color vibrancy.  


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