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Why is my hair not holding colour?

If you’ve ever felt frustrated when the beautiful hair color you just paid for starts fading almost immediately, you’re not alone. Many factors can cause hair color to fade quickly, leaving your locks lackluster. The good news is that with some adjustments to your hair care routine, you can get your color to last longer.

Common Causes of Fading Hair Color

There are a few key reasons why your hair color may not be holding:

1. Using shampoo and hot water too often

Frequent shampooing, especially with hot water, can cause the cuticle (outer layer) of the hair to open. When this happens, it allows the color pigments to escape more easily. Limiting washing to 2-3 times per week with lukewarm water is best.

2. Overexposure to sun, saltwater, and chlorine

Environmental factors like sunlight, saltwater, and chlorine from pools and hot tubs can all accelerate fading. The UV rays from the sun especially can degrade hair color pigments. Wearing a hat and limiting swim sessions can help.

3. Heat styling too frequently

Using hot tools like blow dryers, curling irons, and straighteners puts stress on the hair and causes color to fade more quickly. Allowing hair to air dry when possible and lowering heat settings can minimize damage.

4. Product buildup on the hair

Residue, mineral deposits, and buildup from hair products can prevent color from depositing properly or cause it to wash out faster. Using a clarifying shampoo once a week helps remove buildup.

5. Underlying health and medication issues

Sometimes medical conditions, nutrient deficiencies, or medications can lead to faster fading. For example, thyroid disorders, aging, and drugs like blood thinners are linked to quicker color loss. Checking with a doctor can determine if health issues are a factor.

Tips to Make Hair Color Last Longer

If you want your hair color to stay vibrant for as long as possible, here are some helpful tips:

Use sulfate-free shampoo and cool water

Washing less often helps, but when you do shampoo, use a formula without sulfates. Sulfates are harsh detergents that can strip color. Rinsing with cool or lukewarm water instead of hot also makes a difference.

Apply hair masks or leave-in treatments

Using weekly hydrating masks or leave-in treatments with ingredients like oils, keratin, and silicone can help seal in moisture and prevent the cuticle from opening. This helps lock in color pigments.

Rinse with cold water and limit wash frequency

Rinsing with cool water allows the cuticle to close tightly to seal in color. Washing hair only when necessary (every 3-4 days for most people) also minimizes color loss over time.

Protect hair from sun exposure

UV rays cause more damage when hair is wet, so wearing a hat after washing is crucial. You can also apply a UV protecting spray before going outside on sunny days. This helps prevent fading from the sun.

Switch to dry shampoo between washes

Over-washing hair can make color fade faster. Using a dry shampoo between regular wash days helps absorb oil and makes it easier to go longer without getting hair wet. Less washing means less color loss.

Get occasional glossing treatments

A glossing service done between full color appointments helps revitalize shine and deposit pigments that may have washed out. Glossing every 4-6 weeks can refresh color and prevent significant fading.

Best Products for Color-Treated Hair

Using the right hair care products for your color-treated locks can make a big difference. Here are some of the top options:


Brand Product Key Features
Redken Color Extend Magnetics Sulfate-Free Shampoo – Gentle cleansers
– No sulfates
– Protects color
Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo – Repairs bonds
– Improves elasticity
– Minimizes fading
Pureology Strength Cure Shampoo – For fragile hair
– Antioxidant protection
– Solar defense


Brand Product Key Features
Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave-In Conditioning Spray – Smooths cuticle
– Frizz control
– Color protection
Moroccanoil Color Continue Conditioner – Locks in color
– Antioxidants
– UV inhibitors
Davines Alchemic Conditioner – Repairs damage
– Intense hydration
– Long-lasting color


Brand Product Key Features
Kerasilk Color Reviving Gloss – Refreshes color
– Shines and smoothes
– Light conditioning
Schwarzkopf Bonacure Color Freeze Rich Mask – Seals in color
– Intensive hydration
– Restores vibrancy
Klorane Color Protecting Mask with Quinine – Protects from UV rays
– Prevents fading
– Strengthens strands

When to See a Stylist About Color Fading Issues

Sometimes at-home products and techniques aren’t enough to keep hair color looking fresh. If you notice significant fading within the first 1-2 weeks after coloring, it’s best to follow up with your stylist.

Here are some signs it’s time to make an appointment:

– Color looks drastically faded right away
– Dark roots appear much quicker than normal
– Condition of hair seems to be worsening
– Scalp sensitivity or unexpected texture changes
– You used a box dye and are having bad results

A professional can troubleshoot the issue and determine if you need a change in color formula, technique, or maintenance routine. Don’t hesitate to ask them for suggestions on better protecting your color too.

The Takeaway

It can be frustrating when the beautiful hair color you left the salon with seems to fade into a duller, lifeless version of itself, but don’t lose hope! With some adjustments like washing less often, using protective products, and limiting sun and heat exposure, you can keep your color vibrant for longer. Taking good care of your strands and getting occasional glossing treatments can also prevent fading between color appointments. If you try these tips but still struggle with rapid color loss, consult your stylist – they can help get your hair back to looking its best.