The number one mistake most people make immediately after leaving the salon? Not picking up the proper after-care products. Even if you aren’t buying all of the items your stylist suggests, Papanikolas recommends removing any products that are generally harsh on the hair, and replacing them with hydrating, color-protective formulas. Particularly if you’ve gone for blonder ambitions, neutralizing any shifts in tone is key.
“You want to go opposite of the color wheel, so the color on the opposite end of orange is blue. With yellow, you want to go with a purple,” explains Papanikolas, who recommends Biolage Colorlast ($19) for blondes, and a blue-based shampoo like the Total Results Brass Off ($14) for brunettes. “Use gentle, hydrating formulas that keep the cuticle tight. Anything volumizing will cause the cuticle to swell, and your color will fade faster.”
Color-depositing conditioners or at-home glazes used a few times a week can also help to keep your tone in check. We’re big fans of Leonor Greyl’s Soin Repigmentant conditioner ($65), which comes in shades ranging from pale blonde to deep brunette and should be applied to towel-dried hair. Factors like excessive heat styling and being out in the sun can also trigger premature fading. Apply a heat protectant such as TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Leave In Spray ($5) before picking up your flat iron or curling wand, and consider using a product designed to shield hair from UV rays to finish.
Avoid shampooing hair too often, but when you do decide to lather, rinse, and repeat, make sure you do so with cool or cold water. “Hot water automatically opens the cuticle of your hair, when you think of the molecules that are in there, a little comes out every time, so the hotter the wash, the more open the cuticle is and the faster your hair fades,” says Papanikolas. “So, if you can tolerate cold water for shampooing and rinsing, it will lock everything in place and will be good for closing the cuticle.”
When all else fails, pay your stylist a visit to gloss and tone your strands. The longer you can allow your hair to soak in all of the color-refreshing goodness, the better. Papanikolas recommends allowing at least 10 minutes for the color to deposit into your hair, which should last anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks—or a bit longer, provided you heed all his aforementioned advice.
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