When done by a trusted pro with the right products and technique, hair color itself is not damaging. However, color-treated hair can be more vulnerable to damage, since chemical treatments of this kind can weaken the bonds that bind the hair strand together. Lack of proper post-appointment care results in hair dullness, frizz and breakage.
“Your hair has three different types of bonds: hydrogen, ionic, and disulfide,” explains Jenna Perry, a celebrity hairstylist and Redken ambassador. “The disulfide bonds get broken down by chemicals like those in hair-coloring and -lightening services. This can change the pH of your hair, making it feel fragile.”
That’s where bond-strengthening products come to the rescue, reinforcing those depleted connections. “It’s like an insurance policy on your hair color,” says Perry. Here, she details what to look for in five different areas, so your color-treated hair will always be strong, full, and healthy.
Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Sulfate-Free Conditioner
Look for bond-targeting shampoo and conditioner formulas that don’t contain sulfates, which can fade color and dry out hair, Perry says. Checking both boxes is her must-have duo of Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Shampoo and Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Conditioner. “These are a game changer—they strengthen while conditioning,” she says.
Both are formulated with an acidic pH aimed at defending against the potentially damaging effects of color treatments, heat styling, and hard water. Used in tandem, the products have been shown in studies conducted by the brand to result in hair that’s 11 times smoother, with 56 percent less breakage and 82 percent fewer visible split ends.
For those with fine hair, Perry recommends swapping in a lightweight, rinse-out conditioner like Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Lightweight Liquid Conditioner, which will help your hair stay hydrated and smooth without being weighed down. “It keeps your hair shiny,” she says. The fast-absorbing spray-on formula also helps detangle and enhances volume, for up to 48 hours of body and lift.
Moisturizing Hair Mask
Applying one of these weekly in place of conditioner can help maintain healthy-looking hair between color appointments. “Masks can moisturize and help protect against environmental stressors,” Perry says. Her pick: the ultra-conditioning, reparative Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate 5-Min Liquid Mask, which hydrates, strengthens, smooths, and detangles in almost no time. Best of all, she adds, it provides a high-shine finish for up to three days post-use, so you can enjoy a salon-quality look at a fraction of the price.
Adding one of these to your post-shower routine offers another level of protection against damage. Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Leave-In Treatment “helps promote hair regrowth and balance pH levels,” Perry says, minimizing breakage and split ends. The formula’s silicones and fatty alcohols condition, add shine, and smooth frizz, while citric acid helps reinforce the weakened bonds. Applied to damp hair before styling with hot tools, it offers protection up to 450° F.
Rebecca Ravee Norris is a full-time freelance writer with a decade’s worth of lifestyle media experience. Based out of the Washington metropolitan area, she writes for a variety of publications, covering everything from beauty and wellness to style and celebrity news. She is a graduate of George Mason University. There, she earned her B.A. in Media: Production, Consumption, and Critique, along with a minor in Electronic Journalism. When she’s not working, she can be found with her beloved Jack-Chi, Cash, adventuring with family and friends, working through reps at the gym, dreaming up her next home decor project, testing a new recipe, getting lost in the pages of a book, or catching up on her favorite shows.