Washing Hair After Coloring: All the Things You Need to Know

We've got Unilever's R&D expert Francesca Rapolla to give us pointers on washing hair after coloring.

Is there a better feeling than walking out of the salon with a freshly-dyed ‘do? We thought not. Whether you’ve opted to lighten, brighten, or darken your hair, newlycolored hair always puts us in a good mood. But what about washing hair after coloring it? Many often wonder: “Should I wash my hair before I color it?” Or, “How long should I wait to wash my hair after coloring?” No one wants to ruin their fresh color because they were too eager to wash their hair.

Ultimately, the goal when looking after dyed hair is to keep your color looking as fresh as possible. Francesca Rapolla, an expert from the Research and Development team at Unilever, weighs in on the topic. “The best way to do this is by using special products formulated for your specific hair color and needs,” she recommends.

So, whether you’ve bleached your hair blonde or are sporting a rich hue, there are some universal after-care ‘no-nos’ and product go-tos. Want to know more? All Things Hair reveals what techniques you should be using when washing hair after coloring.

Shampoo for colored hair: Filipina woman with short blonde hair wearing a blue coat
Bleached hair requires extra TLC for it not to be dry and brittle. Credit: indigitalimages.com

How long should you wait to wash your hair after coloring?

As Francesca points out, your hair will usually be washed as part of the dyeing process; so if possible, don’t re-wash it as soon as you get home. However, if you do have to jump in the shower ASAP, it won’t make an impact on the vibrancy of your color. Phew!

So it really doesn’t matter when we wash our hair after dyeing it? “There is no specific time you should wait to wash your hair after getting it colored,” confirms Francesca.

How often should you wash your colored hair?

If this is the first time you’ve dyed your locks, you might need to adjust your weekly washing routine. This is to make sure you’re not over-washing your hair. Hair that’s dyed with a lot of pigment can look more faded the more you wash it. If possible, try to only wash it every other day at most, or, ideally every two to three days.

So, should you actually wash your hair before coloring? If you’re bleaching your roots, the answer is no. The natural oils in your hair can actually protect the scalp during the dyeing process. In general though, as Francesca points out, “you should always follow the set instructions of whatever particular dye you are using.”

Whatever color you’ve opted for, it’s important to think about your hair texture when creating a washing schedule. Natural hair tends to be drier than other types so if you have dyed your natural hair, it may be best to only wash them once a week.

Fine hair, on the other hand, may need to be washed up to every other day. This is due to the natural build-up of sebum and oils in the hair that can weigh it down and make it appear flat.

Do hot showers make your hair color less vibrant?

Yes, they can. According to Francesca, “hot water opens up the hair cuticle possibly making more color leach out.” In contrast, cold water tends to ‘seal’ the cuticle. That might be the case but, let’s be honest, we’re not all going to swap our warm showers in favor of an ice bath anytime soon.

It’s best to simply be aware that the more time you rinse colored hair under hot water, the more it can lose its vibrancy. As such, giving the hair a quick blast of cold water or placing a shower cap over your hair after it’s been washed are two easier (and less chilly) ways to protect colored hair.

light blonde hair color 3
Maintain a bold bleached hue with the right products and styling techniques. Credit Indigital

Choose the right hair products.

Step away from your regular shampoo. Colored hair needs to be washed with formulas that are up for the task. During the dyeing process, the hair is damaged and the cuticle (the surface of the hair) can be chipped, making it appear rough or dull. Francesca adds, “as the natural protective barrier of the hair is damaged during this process, it allows hair color to leach out, fading with time.” Ultimately, leaving you with less vibrant locks.

Certain products are designed to visibly repair the surface of the hair. Recreating the protective barrier that has been broken down during the dyeing process, making hair smooth and shiny. And, of course, shiny hair = vibrant color. This is a huge bonus if you’re rocking a spicy red, warm burgundy or any highly-pigmented hue that you want to keep as bright as possible! Whether you’ve opted for a subtle balayage or a bold, bleached look, pick products that are tailored to your tone.

Editor’s tip: Purple shampoos are ideal for blonde and bleached hair. When you go blonde, switch to TRESemmé Pro-Color Series Blonde Brilliance Shampoo and TRESemmé Pro-Color Series Blonde Brilliance Conditioner. This pair has a purple formula to neutralize brassy tones and yellow discoloration and jojoba oil to moisturize your hair.

Add a moisturizing mask into the mix.

As coloring is a chemical process, it can leave your hair looking and feeling a little dry. This can also affect the overall vibrancy as moisturized hair will reflect light better, giving you a high-shine finish.  Keep your hair in its best condition by using a deep conditioning hair mask at least once a week.

Fight the fade.

Bad news, beach worshipers: spending too much time in direct sunlight can cause your color to fade. Your best course of action? The next time you’re reclining poolside, make sure to cover your head with a hat or scarf to keep your hair as shaded as possible. It’s also important to wash your hair post-swim with a shampoo that is formulated to help nourish the hair. Chemicals found in most pools, like chlorine, can leave the hair looking and feeling brittle.

As colored hair can be more vulnerable to heat, it’s important to always use a heat protectant while styling with hot tools. This will help stop colored hair from feeling or appearing dry and damaged.

Editor’s tip: Opt for the new TRESemmé Pro-Color Series rage. Try TRESemmé Pro-Color Series Color Radiance Shampoo and TRESemmé Pro-Color Series Color Radiance Conditioner to help make your hues last twice longer, thanks to this duo’s Color Radiance Booster.

Use dry shampoo.

While dry shampoo shouldn’t replace any steps in your usual washing schedule, it can leave your hair feeling fresher, without water.

Editor’s tip: On your no-wash days, use TRESemmé Instant Refresh Dry Shampoo to help remove dirt, absorb excess oil, and refresh hair sans water.

Look whose color is poppin’! With these tips, you’ll be able to rock your beautiful hair color for a long time.

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