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What ingredients should you avoid in conditioner for colored hair?

When you color treat your hair, maintaining that vibrant hue can be a challenge. Using the wrong hair products can cause your color to fade quickly. It’s important to be mindful of the ingredients in your conditioner to prevent stripping the color from your strands.

Why does hair color fade?

There are a few reasons why colored hair tends to fade faster than natural hair:

  • Chemical processes – Bleach and dye open up the outer cuticle layer so color can deposit inside the hair shaft. However, this makes hair more porous and prone to fading.
  • Oxidation – Exposure to air, sun, chlorine, and other oxidizing agents can cause the color molecules to break down over time.
  • Washing – Frequent shampooing, hot water, and harsh sulfates strip color from hair.
  • Heat styling – Using hot tools causes more oxidation and color fade.

To keep dyed hair looking vibrant for longer, it’s key to avoid ingredients in products that can contribute to color fading.

What to avoid in conditioner

When shopping for conditioner, steer clear of these problematic ingredients:


Sulfates are detergents that are commonly added to shampoos and conditioners to create lather and remove oil and buildup. However, these harsh cleansers strip color by opening up the cuticle and allowing dye molecules to wash away. Sulfates to avoid include:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium laureth sulfate
  • Ammonium lauryl sulfate
  • TEA lauryl sulfate


Parabens are preservatives that have been linked to faster fading in color-treated hair. They can be hidden in ingredient lists under these names:

  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Butylparaben


Isopropyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol can be drying and cause color treated hair to become brittle and faded. It’s best to avoid daily use of products containing alcohols.


Silicones like dimethicone and cyclomethicone provide temporary shine and softness. But over time, they can build up on hair, blocking out moisture and dye molecules. This leads to dry, lackluster color. Some silicones to avoid are:

  • Dimethicone
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Amodimethicone
  • Trimethylsilylamodimethicone

Best conditioner ingredients for colored hair

Look for these beneficial ingredients that will help keep dyed hair healthy and vibrant:

Natural oils

Plant-based oils like argan, coconut, and avocado contain fatty acids that seal in moisture and protect hair color from fading. Some good oils to look for are:

  • Argan oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • Sweet almond oil

Shea butter

Shea butter is an intense moisturizer high in vitamins A and E. It softens hair and minimizes dryness and breakage that can cause color to fade.


Keratin proteins reinforce weak spots in the hair cuticle to reduce porosity and lock in color. Hydrolyzed keratin is a common conditioning ingredient derived from natural keratin.

UV filters

Ingredients like benzophenone-4 provide a barrier against UV rays from the sun, which can oxidize and degrade hair color. Using SPF protection is key for maintaining vivid color.

DIY conditioner recipe for colored hair

For optimal nourishment and color protection, try making your own conditioner at home. Here is an easy recipe to try:


  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoons shea butter
  • 10-15 drops essential oil of your choice for fragrance (lavender is great)


  1. Heat the shea butter and oils either in a double boiler or microwave until just melted.
  2. Remove from heat and mix into the coconut milk until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add in essential oils and mix well.
  4. Transfer to an airtight container. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  5. After shampooing, apply a generous amount to wet hair, focusing on the ends. Let sit a few minutes before rinsing.


Preserving your hair color requires being picky about the products you use. Steer clear of harsh sulfates, parabens, alcohols, and silicones in conditioners which can cause fading. Opt for moisturizing natural oils, shea butter, keratin, and sunscreen ingredients instead. With a nourishing, color-safe conditioner, you can keep your colorful locks vibrant and healthy.