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What colors stay in hair the longest?

Hair color is an important part of style and self-expression for many people. When choosing a new hair color, it’s helpful to know which shades have the most staying power so your vibrant look lasts as long as possible. In this article, we’ll discuss what factors affect color fading, which color categories resist fading best, tips for longest lasting hair color, and how to keep dyed hair from losing its intensity.

What Makes Hair Color Fade?

There are a few key reasons why dyed hair color fades over time:

  • Oxidation – Exposure to light and air causes the color molecules to oxidize, breaking down the artificial pigments.
  • Washing – Shampooing and water washes away some of the color coating the hair shaft.
  • Sun exposure – UV rays quicken oxidation and fading.
  • Heat styling – The use of hot tools opens the cuticle allowing color to escape.
  • Product build-up – Conditioners, gels, and styling products lead to fading over time.
  • Growing out – New uncolored hair growing in contrasts with dyed strands.

The rate of fading depends on your hair type, lifestyle and styling regimen. But some colors hold up better against these factors than others.

Which Hair Color Shades Last the Longest?

Here is an overview of how long major color categories typically last, from shortest to longest lasting:


Red shades like vibrant copper, cherry red or burgundy fade the fastest of any hair color. The large molecules in red dye only penetrate the outer hair cuticle and are easily washed away. Expect dramatic fading within 4-6 weeks.


Lightening hair requires stripping away its natural pigment. So blonde dye doesn’t have anything to grab onto within the strands. From buttery yellows to platinum, blonde shades show fading in 4-8 weeks.


Because black is such a stark change from lighter natural shades, it lacks staying power. The intensity usually begins to fade after 6-8 weeks as roots grow in. Blue-black may last a week or two longer.


As a more subtle change for many hair colors, rich browns hold on a little longer. Some may last 10-12 weeks before needing a refresh. Ash or mocha shades with grey mixed in resist warmth better.


Trendy pastel pinks, peaches and purples sit on the surface of hair instead of penetrating. But the softness of the shades means fading isn’t as severe. Expect pastels to last 8-10 weeks.

Darker Colors

In general, the deeper the shade, the longer it will retain vibrancy in hair. Because they have a high concentration of color molecules, darker pigments penetrate further and become embedded within the strands. Aim for hues like ‘blue black,’ ‘dark chocolate’ or ‘auburn.’

Color Category Longevity
Red 4-6 weeks
Blonde 4-8 weeks
Black 6-8 weeks
Brown 10-12 weeks
Pastels 8-10 weeks
Darker Colors 12+ weeks

Tips for Longest Lasting Dye Jobs

If you want to extend the longevity of your hair color as much as possible, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use a color-safe shampoo and lukewarm water when washing.
  • Rinse with cold water to seal the cuticle after shampooing.
  • Limit washing to 2-3 times per week.
  • Use an intensive conditioner weekly.
  • Avoid chlorine by wearing a swim cap.
  • Apply UV filtering products before sun exposure.
  • Let hair air dry instead of heat styling when possible.
  • Get a gloss or glaze refresh around week 6.
  • Use an at-home color enhancing shampoo once fading begins.

Taking steps to keep your color sealed in will help even the most vibrant shades last 7-10 weeks or more.

Can I Make My Color Last Even Longer?

If you want your color treated hair to remain fresh for 12 weeks or longer, you have a couple options:

  • Professional Color Services – Book touch-ups with your stylist every 8 weeks. Ask for a demi-permanent all-over gloss to refresh your hue.
  • Root Concealers – Use specialty root powders, crayons or mascaras when growth begins to show. They camouflage until you can get back to the salon.
  • Semi-Permanent Rinses – These deposit-only formulas add back lost vibrancy once per week.
  • Permanent Color – Recoloring regrows your roots and redyed the length. It’s damaging to do this often though.

With the right techniques, you can keep even the most fiery reds or platinum shades looking freshly done for 3-4 months.

Does Hair Type Affect Fading?

Yes, the condition and structure of your hair impacts how quickly color fades. Here’s an overview:

Damaged Hair

Hair that is very porous and dehydrated absorbs more color initially but also loses it quicker. aim for conditioning and strengthening treatments before dyeing.

Oily Hair

Sebum coating the hair can cause color to slide off faster. Use a clarifying shampoo once per week.

Coarse Hair

The tightly sealed cuticles help seal in color even when curly. Dye tends to last longer.

Fine Hair

More fragile hair can only take so much lightening or chemical processing before becoming over-compromised. Go slowly with lightening and avoid over-washing.

Virgin Hair

Hair that hasn’t been colored before grabs and holds onto dye better than previously lightened strands. Color virgins get longer lasting results.

Gray Hair

The coarse, porous structure of gray hair absorbs lots of color but often requires a touch-up sooner. Go gradually when applying dark shades to prevent fading too quickly.

How Does Hair Length Affect Color Fading?

Longer hair shows the effects of fading more dramatically than short locks. Because dyed hair fades from the roots downwards as it grows out, shorter hair has less time to lose vibrancy before getting cut off again.

Some examples:

  • A pixie cut may only need refreshing every 12-16 weeks.
  • A bob length cut could go 8-12 weeks between dye jobs.
  • Shoulder length hair might begin fading around 6-10 weeks.
  • Long hair past the shoulders tends to need a color boost every 4-8 weeks.

So for maximum color longevity, keep lengths on the shorter side. Have your colorist incorporate lots of root shadowing and lowlights to help hide regrowth.

Hair Length Time Before Obvious Fading
Pixie Cut 12-16 weeks
Bob 8-12 weeks
Shoulder 6-10 weeks
Long 4-8 weeks


Getting a vibrant, freshly colored look can do wonders for your style, but maintaining it requires commitment. Reds fade the fastest, followed other lighter shades. Deeper browns, blacks, and intense colors have the most stamina. Give your dye job the best chance by using color-safe products, limiting heat styling, and getting professional gloss treatments. With the right techniques, you can keep even bright fashion shades looking amazing for months.