Keep Your Hair Color Vibrant

Shannon R., SELF magazine

Most women experiment with hair color at some point in their life. They may want to cover some gray, add a few highlights or experiment with a new shade all over. Whether you do it at home or at a salon, hair coloring can get expensive. Here are a few tips to protect your investment and keep hair looking vibrant!

What causes color to fade?

- You may be surprised to learn that water is the number one culprit in causing color loss. Most women think it's shampoo or harsh chemicals that cause color loss (which is true to some degree), but it's actually just good old H2O. In fact, if you soaked your hair in spring water, much of the color would be drawn right out. This is especially true If you use darker colors like reds, browns or blacks.

Related: 20 Superfoods for Weight Loss

- UV rays can break down your hair color, causing the color to fade and look dull. Again, women who use darker hair colors are more likely to notice the fading.

- While damage doesn't necessarily cause fading, it can certainly make hair color look dull. There are actually two ways damage hinders color vibrancy. If you color hair that is already damaged, the color will be absorbed unevenly, since damaged hair is more porous and absorbs more color. Plus, the more porous hair is, the more likely it will "leach" out with washing. Secondly, hair coloring is a damaging process (especially permanent hair color and bleaching). Damaged hair tends to be less shiny and can make hair color look dull.

Related: Yoga Moves for Flat Abs

How can I prevent color fading?

Wash Less
- Since water is the top enemy of color-treated hair, washing your hair less is the best way to protect color. I know there is an "ick" factor for some women, but this truly is the best way to protect your color. Luckily, there are many dry shampoos that work well at spot-treating or even all-over cleansing. I often tout the benefits of dry shampoos (I personally love them!) and there several affordable options now available. When you do wash your hair, try to make it quick and only shampoo the roots, there is really no need to scrub the ends and the less time you expose your hair to water, the better.

Minimize Sun Exposure
- Grab a hat if you know are going to be outdoors for an extended time (this is true all year!). If a hat is not always an option, try using one of the UV sprays available to help protect the color. UV sprays should be leave-on products (rinse-off products claiming UV protection don't really work). Also, use the spray generously, you want to be sure to cover as many strands as possible!

Related: Lose 2 Pounds a Week

- Healthy hair looks better whether you color or not! If you read my posts regularly, you probably can tell I'm a huge conditioner advocate. Even if you have fine, thin hair, apply conditioner to the ends (where you have the most damage). Conditioner can help seal the cuticles (outer part of the hair) minimizing water absorption, which ultimately keeps color lasting longer and hair looking healthier.

Bottom Line

The good news is that keeping hair color looking vibrant is not that difficult. You don't need a collection of expensive shampoos to protect your hair color investment. However, you may have to change your habits a bit. I know washing your hair less isn't always desirable but it really does work! Also, remember that your skin isn't the only thing needing protection from the sun--don't forget your scalp and hair! Finally, keeping hair healthy and minimizing damage will go a long way in keeping hair color looking its best!

More from SELF:
5 Simple Steps to Cellulite-Free Skin
3 CrossFit Total-Body Workouts
50 Healthiest Snacks
6 Secrets to Firing Up Your Metabolism