Calling all would-be redheads: If you've decided to take that walk on the wild side that is rocking a copper top, you probably know by now, either by experience or because someone has told you (and if not, then consider yourself warned), that red color is a terribly tricky tint to maintain, living up to its reputation as a physical trait that signals a mercurial temperament. Above all others, it is most notorious for faster-than-normal fade-out, so it's important to enter into this metamorphosis knowing the best ways to keep red hair looking vibrant, bold, and bright.
Form an alliance with your salon specialist
If your colorist doesn't offer it outright, request that he or she incorporate a hue-boosting gloss or glaze to your color cocktail. Both will add shine and vibrancy, plus extend the life of your red, but as their differences are noted and nuanced, going into your appointment having done some homework will get you and your colorist on the same page as far as achieving the knockout strawberry, auburn or russet you so desire.
Don't wash right away
Following your color process, give your hair a break—that is, hold off washing it for ideally no less than 72 hours. The reasoning behind this is that it takes approximately three days for the hair cuticle to close around and secure the color molecule. When you do wash:
- Do so infrequently. Substitute dry shampoo or baby powder between washes if your roots become oily or you need a boost of volume. Not washing doesn't have to be agonizing—it gives you an excuse to accessorize bath time with an adorable shower cap!
- Use lukewarm or cool water—as cool as you can stand it. While some color runoff during your first one to two washes post-treatment is to be expected, washing with water that is too hot will exacerbate loss of color by causing the hair cuticle to dilate, in turn creating a freer flow of color out of each strand and leading to premature fading.
- Use sulfate-free, color-friendly shampoo + conditioner. Sulfates are the component of cleansing agents that create a sudsy, cleansing lather, remove oils from skin and hair and lift stains from clothing. While they certainly get the job done, they can also dull your hair color much more quickly than a "low-poo" product.
Lay off the heat
Both the sun's rays and heat styling tools are culprits in facilitating color fade. To maintain the bold, brazen beauty of a hot-of-the-presses red, extended sun exposure and overzealous thermal styling should be kept to a minimum. Keep your flat irons and curling irons set to a lower temperature than you would normally, and consider a diffuser attachment for your blow dryer. Many color-extending shampoos and conditioners contain UVA/UVB protectants in their formulas. A does-it-all treatment, like Pureology's Colour Stylist Lustrous Volumizer, as a bonus to bodifying hair, acts as an at-home color-preserving glaze and spares hair the damages of heat styling. Brands like ColorProof and ColorpHlex offer all manner of styling treatments with the common goal of protecting and vitalizing hair color.
Maintain between salon visits
For daily gray concealment and root coverage, there are a few at-home, no-mess, dye-free options to extend the life of your red and integrate new growth:
- Style Edit's Root Concealer
- Bumble & bumble's Color Stick
- Oribe's Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray
- Color Wow's Root Cover Up
You can further enliven your red's highs and lows by using a conditioning mask like Redken's Color Extend Magnetics Smart Mega Mask, which uses a protein complex for four weeks of color vibrancy when used as directed. Oribe's Masque for Beautiful Color employs keratin and various botanicals to naturally promote manageability and impart gloss.
When you get that call to convert to cerise, not unlike the beckoning of a siren's song (sans shipwreck), why not set sail? A redhead, after all, is not soon forgotten.
Posted by Katy Kirkpatrick