Finding a Shampoo for Colored Hair

Eunice Lucero | 25 March 2016

The right products = less touchups = a better cost-per-wear.

There are a few things as heartbreaking as seeing your bright, vibrant new color literally wash down the drain. All those nights spent stalking Pinterest for that perfect shade, those painstaking hours in the stylist’s chair, hundreds of dollars spent on getting your color right and buying what you thought was the shampoo for colored hair—all slowly trickling away with each shower. It almost feels like it’s not worth the trouble. Almost.

Color maintenance is probably one of the most challenging factors in dyeing your hair; even seasoned color aficionados can get overwhelmed now and again. (That show-stopping shade of platinum or scarlet does come with its fair share of upkeep!). It’s a given that when coloring hair, high risk equals high reward.

This is perhaps the reason why it’s advised to start by acquiring a color safe shampoo that you can get your hands on. Men and women who color their hair usually have a two-pronged concern when buying hair care: protection against color-fading and damage repair.

What’s the Difference Between a Regular Shampoo and a Shampoo for Colored Treated Hair?

shampoo for colored hair on red hair
Damage repair and color retention: the two biggest concerns when shopping for the best shampoo for colored hair. Photo credit: Dvora

Regular shampoos and conditioners usually contain detergents that work to clean hair and clarify the scalp of excess oil and buildup. However, these efficient cleansers—sulfates—also can cause swelling of the hair cuticle, and color pigments end up leaking out and getting washed off.

This is primarily the reason why innovations regarding gentler, low-sulfate or even sulfate-free shampoos surfaced. Some shampoo for dyed hair products are also said to be free of alcohol. Others even have added moisturizing ingredients to help repair damage from color-processing and also add vibrancy-boosting shine.

Invest in shampoo and conditioner for color treated hair systems that are lower-sulfate, such as Dove Nutritive Solutions Color Care Shampoo and Dove Nutritive Color Care Conditioner, to minimize color leeching out from your strand. A completely sulfate- and silicone free shampoo and a conditioner chock-full of beneficial hair oils, like Nexxus New York Salon Care Color Assure Rebalancing Shampoo and Color Assure Restoring Conditioner, are even gentler on fussy, high-maintenance hair dyes (hi, red).

Don’t Stop in the Shower

Although there is definitely no harm in opting for a gentler, sulfate-free shampoo (except for maybe experiencing a less lathery rinse-off, which is no biggie if you wash regularly), it doesn’t stop there. The summer trifecta of chlorine, harsh UV rays and salt water may also contribute to color fading and dullness. Certain chemical treatments and that everyday culprit, heat styling, can also fade your shade.

shampoo for colored hair in the shower
Although a sulfate-free shampoo is said to be gentler on strands, caring for your color doesn’t stop there.

Tips to Make your Hair Color Last

1. Don’t wash hair until 72 hours after your color appointment—this will help your shade set better on your strands.

2. When you do wash, do it as infrequently as you can tolerate (every other day is reasonable during the summer). And when you do, first prep hair with a protecting primer such as Nexxus New York Salon Care Color Assure Pre-Wash Primer that helps repel water from entering the shaft. Then wash hair with a color protecting shampoo that doesn’t contain sulfates and has detangling benefits. Note: It’s customary to prepare for some initial color bleed in the shower, especially for the first few rinses.

3. Deep-condition. Hair that’s been colored or bleached has also been damaged. Treat strands to a twice-a-week deep-conditioning treatment that’s also safe to use on colored strands.

4. Use a heat protectant. Thermal sprays like TRESemmé Platinum Strength Strengthening Heat Spray applied before mechanical styling or stepping out the door can shield hair from heat damage and color fade. 

Looking for more info on finding a color treated hair shampoo? Check out our current favorite as the best shampoo for colored hair.

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