How to Treat Colored Hair at Home

Whether you’ve chosen to go blonde, red, or brunette, once you’ve colored your hair you need to give it a little extra TLC. After all, you’ve invested your time and money into creating this new look for your hair. It only makes sense to get the most out of your new color by keeping your hair healthy, and helping your color to last.

We suggest you go to a salon for hair color treatments, to avoid possible damage to your hair. However, if you have chosen an at home color treatment, these ideas can still apply to you. 

If you want to keep your hair looking beautiful and vibrantly colored for a long time, it’s important to follow the following steps to treat your color hair at home. 

1. The First Wash 

Post a coloring session; remember to wait at least 72 hours before you wash your hair. This sounds impossible to some women. A full three days can feel like forever, especially if you have oily hair. There is a good reason, though, and if you can suffer through it will be so worth it!

The cuticle layer of your hair might be open after the coloring process. This is great because that is what was necessary to absorb your gorgeous new color! The thing is, that cuticle doesn’t automatically close up when you walk out of the salon. The open cuticle could result in the color literally draining out of your hair if you wash sooner than 72 hours. 

After a few days (72 hours), the cuticle closes, thereby capturing the hair color within. Now that color is locked into the cuticle, you will enjoy your vibrant hair color longer. Giving your hair the long 72 hour break means fewer touch ups, fewer trips to the salon, and now you can enjoy the fresh feeling of finally washing your beautiful hair! Just make sure you are using a color safe shampoo and conditioner.

2. Sulfate-Free Shampoo And Conditioner 

Many shampoos claim to be “color safe,” as you will notice when walking down any hair care aisle in the store. You’ll find a wide range of shampoos that are specifically designed for colored hair. It can be overwhelming trying to choose. However, there is a way to narrow down your color safe shampoo and conditioner choices. They are not all truly safe for your color treated hair. 

If there is one thing you should keep your eyes open for it is for sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners. Don’t trust a shampoo simply because it says color safe. The only way to truly protect your color when washing, is using a shampoo and conditioner free of sulfates. 

Sulfate Free Shampoo and Conditioner

Take a look at the ingredients on the bottle of most shampoos, and you will see some type of sulfate listed as one of the first ingredients. Sulfate is extremely common in shampoos and conditioners, mainly because it helps in producing the foam. As regular hair washers we feel like we are really cleaning our hair well when our shampoo creates plenty of foam and bubbles. The thing is, that extra foam isn’t necessary, and may be stripping your color treated hair.

Sulfate tends to extract the moisture and natural oils from your hair leaving it dry and frizzy looking. Dry and frizzy will not hold your hair color well at all. Investing in a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner like Keranique can help protect the color and enhance the overall health of your hair. 

3. Add Dye To Your Conditioner 

This may sound bizarre, but if you have a bright hair color such as red or blue, mixing a small amount of dye with your conditioner will help to keep the color looking fresh until your roots start to grow out. Speak to your stylist about this so they can help you determine how much dye to add. If you’ve taken the chance at a bolder hair color, and are loving the new look, you want to do all you can to maintain it. 

4. Use Cold Water 

This is a tough one since we all love a long, hot shower, especially on a cold day. Unfortunately, hot water is not good for your hair or for your hair color. (Ever notice lots of things we love aren’t good for us?) Hot water has its place, but when we wash our hair with it, that hot water opens up the hair cuticles again, leading to the color gradually washing out every time you shampoo and condition your hair. 

Use Cold Water to Wash Hair

You will notice a huge difference in the color of the water draining out when you use cold water versus when you use hot water. If the water is too hot, you will literally see some of your color going down the drain. Yikes! No one wants to wash their time and money, or their hair color down the drain! Keep the water temperature cool to preserve your color longer. 

Hot water also tends to increase hair fallout, which is something that is usually brought about when you color your hair. Losing a little hair is normal. If you are experiencing a type of hair loss you want treated, Keranique has a Hair Regrowth System that will help your situation. 

Keep in mind though that hair loss could also be due to an underlying health issue. As always, you should see your doctor to get to the root cause of your health and hair problems.

5. Wash Your Hair Less Frequently 

Most of us love to wash our hair. It wakes you up in the morning with a refreshing feeling. Clean hair feels good and looks good. Washing your hair every day, however, is not the best choice for your color treated hair. As we discussed above, with the cuticle wanting to open, washing every day, means a little more fading of hair color every day. You want to keep your color looking fresh as long as possible.

Let’s not forget that over-washing can also steal the scalp’s natural oils and leave your hair dry and frizzy. Dry and frizzy hair is hard to manage, and your hair color is eager to leave when your hair is dried out. It needs those natural oils to stay put. 

Look at your calendar if necessary, and consider certain days of the week when you will just give your color treated hair a break from washing. Let it be a baseball cap day, or a braid or ponytail day. It really is worth it, when it comes to helping your color last longer. 

Shoot for a goal of washing your hair no more than two to three times in a week, to keep that colored hair looking fresher for longer. 

6. Use Dry Shampoo 

When dry shampoo first began appearing on the shelves, many of us questioned it. We have been washing daily with water and bubbly shampoo for most of our lives. How could we get our hair clean without water? Turns out we can… and dry shampoo will be your best friend in helping to maintain your hair color longer. 

Dry shampoo works by absorbing the excess oil in your hair. When your hair looks or feels like it needs a cleaning, what it really needs is less oil at the roots. Most likely your hair beyond the roots is definitely over washed. It is our scalp that needs cleaning. Following the directions on a bottle of dry shampoo, to absorb excess oil, leaves your ends alone which do not need that every day washing. 

There are times when the weather gets so very hot and humid and it could feel uncomfortable stepping out of the house without washing your hair. If you aren’t used to skipping a wash, it may seem impossible to you. In times like this, you may really enjoy the refreshing feeling of a quick dry shampoo. It’s fast, leaves your hair clean, and saves your color.  

If you haven’t already, consider stocking up on some dry shampoo. You will be surprised at how these shampoos make you feel refreshed as if you have just washed your hair. It will help in your quest to protect your hair color and make sure it lasts longer. A bonus is how quickly you can freshen up your hair with dry shampoo, when you are short on time. 

7. Invest In Leave-In Treatments To Protect Hair Color 

Frequent shampooing isn’t the only way your hair color could fade. We all love a beautiful sunny day… but the sun could also play a huge role in fading your hair color. Those UV rays can wreak havoc on our hair and new color. The best way to protect your colored hair from the sun is to invest in a UV protected leave-in treatment. 

Some of the benefits of using leave-in treatments are: 

  • It hydrates the hair 
  • It prevents damage 
  • It locks in the nutrients 
  • It keeps your hair smooth 
  • It works like a sunscreen for your hair 
Invest in a Leave-In Treatment to Protect Hair Color


Leave in treatments can give your hair an extra special day full of long lasting hydration. They are full of moisture, and because they are left in the hair and not rinsed out, they are quenching to your thirsty locks.

If you have thinner or fine hair, you may want to speak to your stylist about which leave in treatment is best for your hair type. They can weigh your hair down if you do not choose the right one. They are lighter options if necessary. Either way, your color treated hair will thank you.

8. Use Heat Protecting Sprays While Styling 

We’d prefer to ask you to never use heat on your color treated hair… but that isn’t very realistic. However, it is wise to not use heat daily, and save it for when it is really necessary (like a hot date). There is no getting around it – heat damages our hair. But there are ways to cut down on that damage. 

Whether you want to use a curling iron, flat iron, or if you want to simply blow dry your hair, make sure you use heat protecting sprays. These sprays help to reduce moisture loss and lock in the color so that it does not fade away. It also helps to keep the hair smooth and soft and this gives a better finish to the end result.

Think of heat protecting spray as a protective coating between your hair and the heat.

9. Prepare Before You Color 

You have your appointment set, and are anxious for the day to arrive so you can go home afterward, feeling like a new person with your fresh new hair color. Before you happily head out to the salon to create the new you, do some planning in advance, to get optimal, longer lasting, color results.

Wash Up

Since it is suggested you wait at least 72 hours before washing your color treated hair, mark your calendar to make sure you wash your hair the day before your trip to the salon. This way you will have given it a good washing before you let it go for three days afterward. And remember, after being colored at the salon, you will get your hair washed there also. 

Grab Some Products

Grab Some Products

You should also get your hands on all the necessary hair products to treat your colored hair at home. This way you will manage to maintain the color for longer, and maintain the overall quality of your hair without losing moisture or damaging your hair in any way. 

Go over some of the things we have already discussed, and make a list of what you will need. Things like dry shampoo for those days you are going to give your hair a break from water and traditional shampooing, a leave in conditioner for extra hydration, and some sulfate free shampoo and conditioner.

Being prepared ahead of time will leave you confident, and ready to enjoy your new color for a very long time.

10. Avoid Chlorine 

This may seem like a bummer, especially if you want to flaunt that hair every time you hit the pool. Chlorine contains chemicals and bleaching agents that tend to damage colored hair. Just stand next to a pool, and you will smell those chemicals. Unfortunately, those chemicals and bleaching agents tend to make your hair dull and lose its shine.

Let’s be clear on something. You don’t have to avoid going to a swimming pool. You have a beautiful new hair color! Now isn’t the time to hide away for the summer! You just need to avoid the chlorine coming in contact with your hair. You can choose to use a shower cap or a leave-in conditioner to protect your hair against chlorine. 

Avoid Chlorine

If opting for the leave in conditioner, simply wash your hair, spray in the conditioner while hair is still damp, comb through, and do not rinse out. Now throw on the bikini, and walk with confidence, while protecting your hair.

Protecting Your Hair Before the Coloring Begins

We have discussed how to care for your color treated at hair at home. But what about where to get the color in the first place? Certainly picking up a box of color at the grocery store can save you a lot of money. Is the salon worth it? And what about your hair length, or how often you trim it? 

These are all important questions and need to be addressed and considered before your hair is actually colored. 

Call The Salon

Although boxed do-it-yourself hair color systems may save you money and a trip out of your home, they are pretty risky. Hair coloring is a touchy process, and doing it at home, you risk over process. If hair color is left on too long you can do quite some damage to your hair. If it isn’t left on long enough, you may have wasted your time, leaving you with little or dull looking hair color… not to mention a wasted afternoon coloring your hair. 

Coloring your own hair at home also limits your possibilities in color. A stylist very often will mix a few or even several colors together to get you exactly what you have been imagining for your new color. That is something that can rarely be achieved at home, and probably should not be risked.

We suggest you set up a color consultation appointment with your stylist. Or if you see them regularly, discuss possible color treatments for your next appointment. This way they can get a feel for exactly what you want. 

They can also assess your hair, and if it is safely ready to color. Your stylist may suggest taking off some length before coloring, or doing some moisturizing treatments before coloring, to prep your hair and reduce damage, helping to hold the color better.

Choosing Your Color

It is about time we got to this topic, because it really is the fun part! With thousands of color options to choose from, how will you decide? Are you hoping to look so natural, no one will even realize you colored your hair? Or are you in more of a… wow! Her hair looks like a rainbow! kind of mood? The options are endless, and there are a couple of ways to choose.

Use Technology to Help

There are some great online programs to help you in choosing a hair color, make up, etc.. They usually require you to upload a photo of yourself, and then you can play around with different hair colors and styles to give you an idea of how it may look. It is sort of like dress up for grown ups. 

Use Your Consultation Time

I don’t know about you, but most of us find it hard to be patient when we are ready for a change, like a new hair color. The thing is, in some cases, like hair coloring, patience will pay off. Waiting for your consult appointment with your stylist, is worth it before getting your heart set on a color. 

Your hair stylist has actual hair swatches they can hold up to your head, and you can get a close look at. This is just about the best way to choose your color. They know your hair well, probably even better than you do. Some hair types won’t hold certain colors well, or skin types will look unnatural. Your stylist can point these things out and help you reach a decision.

Why Boxed Hair Color is Risky

We all want to save money. And there is no doubt about it, a boxed hair color from your local grocery store is going to cost much less than a trip to the salon for color. But is it in the long run? Let’s discuss why there are risks to coloring your hair at home.

Harsh Chemicals

Many hair coloring systems have chemicals in them, even those at the salon. But the at home products often have more, or stronger doses of the bad stuff, like ammonia. If you have ever colored your hair at home, you have probably experienced this. The windows need to be open, and your eyes start burning. The ammonia is strong. 

These extra chemicals don’t make the dye better than the salon variety. They are used to keep costs down, and to make color adhere quickly. The scary thing is, the chemicals do not wash out when you shampoo. You get to carry them around with you until your hair is cut, cutting out the chemicals. Imagine the risk of leaving harsh chemicals like that on your head too long. Yikes. 

One Box for a Thousand Heads

Think about it ladies… can that one box of strawberry blonde truly be suited for ALL hair types? Whoever packaged that pretty color into the box you picked up from the drugstore, doesn’t know your hair type, your neighbor’s or your best friend’s hair type. Only your stylist has taken the time to understand your hair and what it can handle. Your stylist deserves a hug.

Touching Up

Fresh hair color is a wonderful feeling. A few weeks of glorious color, then boom… you look in the mirror and what should appear? Roots. Hair grows, and the color grows out with it. Not a nice deal, we agree. It is time for a root touch up. If you chose an at home coloring system, a root touch up will be touchy for sure.

Correction is Expensive

The worst thing you can do for your hair is to just completely re-dye it every time. The reality is that this is very tempting, and many women do it. It goes without saying, that is too much chemical, too often, and very damaging to your hair. The temptation comes from the difficulty of properly doing a root touch up at home. It seems easier to just color every strand again.

Allowing your stylist to color your hair and be in control of the root touch ups, will give you peace of mind, and your color will continue to look fabulous. Root touch ups are just risky at home because if they are not done correctly, your roots may not match up with the rest of your hair. Unless that is a look you are going for, we do not suggest it. 

Correction is Expensive

One last argument for at home versus salon hair coloring… color correction. 

So you saved a few bucks by buying a box of hair color and turning your bathroom into a makeshift hair salon. The problem is, that strawberry blonde looks more like a bright orange, carrot… not what you had in mind. You want it fixed, like… now. When this happens, and of course it does, it is time to call the salon.

Don’t be embarrassed. Stylists receive these calls daily. Color correction is part of their gig. Unfortunately for you, the money you saved buying your hair color at the store and doing it yourself, will now cost you possibly a few trips to the salon, and a lot of money. Color correction can sometimes be completed in one trip, depending on the damage or the intensity of the color. Sometimes it takes several steps which have to be spread out, to get your hair safely back to where it needs to be. 

You see our point here. There are plenty of areas in life when we need to decide if saving a buck is worth it in the long run. We often get what we pay for, and so is the case with hair color. Once your hair is colored, and you look marvelous, then you can take care of the upkeep on your own at home. Just get that great base started at the salon. 

Choosing a new hair color is exciting. However, this excitement tends to fade away just as quickly as the hair color when not maintained well. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to treat colored hair at home. You just need the right products and techniques and you will have beautiful colored hair for a long time, leaving others envious.

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