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What shampoo to use after highlights?

Getting highlights or any other chemical service done to your hair is definitely exciting. However, it’s crucial to properly care for your colored tresses afterwards to maintain the vibrancy and shine. Using the right shampoo after getting highlights is key to preserving your new look.

Why is it important to use a specialized shampoo?

Regular shampoos often contain harsh sulfates and detergents that can cause color to fade quickly. Sulfate-free shampoos are specially formulated to cleanse hair gently without stripping color. They help seal in dye molecules and prevent fading by:

  • Removing buildup without over-stripping oils
  • Locking in moisture to avoid dryness and breakage
  • Maintaining the structural integrity of strands
  • Neutralizing brassiness and preserving tone

The right post-highlight shampoo keeps your strands vibrant, healthy, and stylish for longer.

When should you start using a color-safe shampoo?

It’s best to begin using a sulfate-free shampoo right after getting highlights. Switching your regular shampoo for a gentle, pigment-protecting formula as soon as possible helps maximize color retention. Most colorists recommend continuing to use a color-safe shampoo for at least 4-6 weeks after any chemical service. However, many people choose to use gentle shampoos long-term to maintain shine and prevent fading.

What ingredients should you look for?

Here are some key ingredients to seek out when choosing a post-highlight shampoo:

  • Surfactants: Look for mild coconut-derived cleansers over harsh sulfates.
  • Natural oils: Ingredients like argan, jojoba, and marula oils nourish strands and lock in color.
  • Extracts: Plant-derived extracts like chamomile, lavender, and ginseng soothe the scalp and strengthen hair.
  • UV filters: Components like panthenol help shield against color-stripping sun exposure.
  • Vitamins: Vitamin E, biotin, niacinamide, and more antioxidants protect and condition color-treated strands.

What ingredients should you avoid?

When scanning shampoo labels, steer clear of:

  • Sulfates like sodium laureth sulfate
  • Harsh detergents like cocamide MEA
  • Artificial fragrances and dyes
  • Alcohol which can dry out hair
  • Parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, formaldehyde

What are the best shampoos for highlighted hair?

Here are some top-rated color-safe shampoos for maximizing the vibrancy of highlights:

1. Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo

  • Sulfate-free and paraben-free
  • Contains Olaplex’s patented bond-building technology
  • Repairs damage and prevents breakage
  • Gently cleanses while locking in color
  • Leaves hair strong, smooth, and shiny

2. Redken Color Extend Magnetics Sulfate-Free Shampoo

  • Gently cleanses without stripping color
  • pH balanced and sulfate-free
  • Fights brassiness and color fading
  • Infused with amino acid complex to strengthen strands
  • Leaves hair vibrant, nourished, and easy to detangle

3. Pureology Strength Cure Blonde Shampoo

  • Sulfate-free formula perfect for blondes
  • Contains antioxidants and UV filters
  • Neutralizes brassiness and yellow tones
  • Fortifies weak or damaged hair
  • Leaves highlighted hair looking healthy and radiant

4. Matrix Total Results Brass Off Shampoo

  • Purple shampoo helps cancel unwanted yellow tones
  • Sulfate-free and paraben-free
  • Infused with violet pigments to brighten and neutralize brassiness
  • Nourishes and deeply conditions
  • Leaves blonde and silver hair with a luminous, neutralized finish

5. Drybar Sake Bomb Nourishing Shampoo

  • pH balanced, vegan-friendly formula
  • Packed with nourishing and hydrating ingredients
  • Gently cleanses while softening and smoothing hair
  • Helps prolong color vibrancy and shine
  • Leaves hair silky, healthy, and vibrant

Investing in a high-quality, color-safe shampoo helps keep your highlights fresh and beautiful. Look for formulas containing nourishing oils, vitamins, UV filters, and mild cleansers. Avoid sulfates, parabens, detergents, and other harsh ingredients that can lead to fading. With the right shampoo, you can rock your highlights for weeks and months to come!

How often should you shampoo after getting highlights?

When you first get highlights, aim to shampoo every other day or every 2-3 days. Shampooing less frequently helps prevent excessive fading and maintains balance on the scalp. Here are some tips for shampooing less often:

  • Use dry shampoo between washes to absorb oil and refresh hair.
  • Rinse with water only on non-shampoo days.
  • Apply masks 1-2 times a week for hydration and shine.
  • Use heat protectant if heat styling to avoid damage and breakage.
  • Gently scrub scalp while washing to keep oil production balanced.

Gradually return to shampooing every 1-2 days once highlights are set in, using lukewarm water and concentrating suds on the scalp. Avoid over-washing, which can cause color to fade quickly.

Should you use a conditioner?

Yes, conditioning is a vital step after shampooing highlighted hair. However, skip heavy conditioners as these can make hair appear greasy. Look for lightweight, color-safe formulas that hydrate strands without weighing them down. Apply conditioner from mid-length to ends, avoiding the roots. Rinse thoroughly with cool water to seal in moisture. You can also use a weekly hair mask for added hydration and shine.

How can you make highlights last longer?

Here are some tips to extend the lifespan of your highlights:

  • Wash hair less frequently, about 2-3 times a week
  • Always use color-safe, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner
  • Rinse with cool water to prevent cuticle opening
  • Avoid chlorine, salt water, and other damaging elements
  • Use a leave-in conditioner and heat protectant when heat styling
  • Get a gloss or toner touch-up between full appointments
  • Use a microfiber towel and gently blot wet hair
  • Sleep on a silk pillowcase to avoid friction
  • Avoid harsh elastics, tight hairstyles, excessive brushing

What’s the takeaway?

The key points to remember are:

  • Switch to a sulfate-free, color-safe shampoo right after getting highlights
  • Look for nourishing ingredients like oils, ceramides, antioxidants
  • Avoid shampooing too often – every 2-3 days is ideal
  • Always use a lightweight, color-safe conditioner
  • Lower wash frequency, use protective styling, and get touch-ups to make highlights last

Caring for highlighted hair requires some adjustments to your regular routine. But taking a few extra steps allows you to rock your fresh, vibrant look for months on end. Invest in salon-quality color-safe products, don’t overwash, and style gently to keep your tresses healthy, shiny, and fabulous!


Getting highlights can significantly transform your look, but preserving that fresh color requires some adjustments to your haircare routine. Be sure to switch to a sulfate-free, nourishing shampoo and conditioner formulated specifically for color-treated hair. Shampoo less frequently, rinse with cool water, and protect strands from damage to help your highlights last longer. With the proper products and techniques, you can keep your highlighted hair looking salon-fresh for as long as possible.