15 Low-Maintenance Shampoos for Color-Treated Hair

What should you look for in shampoo when you have color-treated hair?

Celebrity hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein says to “look for a shampoo that hydrates and moisturizes.” Color-treated hair tends to oxidize more than non-processed hair, so you want to make sure your hair is moisturized and nourished to prevent oxidization.

Licensed trichologist Amanda Buescher adds that paying attention to pH-balanced products helps strengthen the hair.”As long as the shampoo is between 4.5-5.5 on the pH scale, it is a color-safe shampoo no matter how it’s marketed. Hair is naturally at a 4.5-5.5 on the pH scale, so shopping for products that are pH-balanced and formulated for your hair type and structure is more beneficial to lasting color,” she adds. If your hair’s pH is balanced, the color is locked in longer. “If your shampoo is not pH-balanced, the cuticle won’t seal down and allows for artificial color pigments to wash out of the hair. Products, like Function of Beauty’s Purple toning products, are not only specially formulated for your hair type and structure, but also keep orange and yellow pigments neutralized so the color stays bright and brass-free while at the same time hydrating and nourishing hair.

What ingredients should you avoid?

“Avoid products with sulfates in the ingredients. Surfactants are common in shampoos to properly cleanse the hair but sulfates are the harshest surfactant, as it strips out natural oils and artificial color pigments,” Buescher adds. “When too many strong surfactants or sulfates are in the shampoo, it can fade color-treated hair by lifting the cuticle layer too aggressively.”

According to Rubenstein, avoid shampoos with sodium listed in the ingredients, including “sodium laurel sulfate, sodium laureate sulfate, sodium chloride, and petrochemicals,” she says. Buescher agrees and explains that since sodium is the scientific fancy name for salt, it doesn’t agree with color-treated hair. “Salt is an absorption agent and acts like a magnet to color molecules, pulling them out of the hair, she adds.

How often should you wash color-treated hair?

You shouldn’t be washing your hair too much, but how often you wash your hair depends on the color. “Hair tinted red will fade no matter what you do. This is because red color molecules are the largest in size and don’t penetrate into the hair as well as other color molecules. To prolong the red-tinted hair color, I recommend washing the hair every 4-5 days. Hair that has been tinted brown or black will fade the least because the color molecules are the smallest. I recommend washing dark color-treated hair every 2-3 days or as needed. For blonde or lightened hair, I recommend shampooing every 2-3 days. Blondes should be treating their hair with a purple shampoo to maintain a bright blonde color,” Buescher explains. However, if your hair is blonde, avoid using purple shampoos daily as purple shampoos can fade the blonde hue to an ashy or grey color.

Also, be sure to keep a deep conditioner on hand. “Deep conditioners and masks are made to add intense moisture. Using a mask or deep conditioner too often can compromise the hair structure making it become stretchy and increasing the risk of breakage. Deep conditioners and masks should not be used more often than every 5 shampoos no matter what color the hair is tinted,” Buescher says.


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