Woman looks at her fading hair color

Hair Color Fading? Here’s How to Make Your Color Last Longer


What Are the Best Ways to Keep Your Hair Color Fresh?

You leave the salon with glossy, perfectly toned hair. Then two weeks later you look in the mirror and your hair color has started to change or fade. It can be so frustrating. 

Wouldn’t it be great if the salon color you walked out with stayed the same until the next visit? You love your new look but how can you keep your hair color fresh? The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to stop your hair color fading between salon visits.

In my 20 years as a stylist and hair colorist, I have many clients who ask how to stop color-treated hair changing over time. Whether you are going darker, using permanent color, or adding highlights, you are probably experiencing unwanted warm tones, dullness, or color fading.

Whether it’s at home or the salon, coloring your hair puts a lot of stress on your strands. When I co-founded Arey with my client Allison, we wanted to create a hair care system that was safe for all kinds of vulnerable hair, including colored hair. 

Here are my favorite ways to make your hair color last.


Why Is Your Hair Color Fading?

The reason your color fades lies in the anatomy of your hair shaft. The cuticle (outer layer of each strand) is scaly, like a snakeskin. Chemicals used in the dying process temporarily open up the scales to allow hair dye to attach to the inside of your strand (cortex).  

graphic showing process of dying hair

Color fading happens when the cuticle is reopened and your color slips out. These are the main causes of hair color loss:

    • Sun exposure
    • Hot water
    • Heat-styling
    • Non-color-safe hair products

Caring for your hair cuticles is the best way to keep your color fresh. Smooth cuticles preserve your hair color and keep your hair healthy, shiny, and silky.  Damaged cuticles are rough and dry which leaves your hair faded, dull, and frizzy.

 Woman looks at the brassy tones in her faded hair color

What Is Brassy Hair?

Unfortunately, all hair colors are prone to fading and brassiness. Brassy describes unwanted warm tones in your brown or blonde hair. Blonde shades are especially vulnerable because bleach makes your hair shaft more porous and prone to fading.  

Here’s how brass appears in different hair colors:

    • Brunette: brown and black shades can turn orange or red.

    • Blonde: bleached hair starts to look yellow or orange.

    • Red shades: red hair loses vibrancy and seems washed out.

Your first line of defense against brassy tones is a cuticle-friendly haircare routine. A balanced, sulfate-free shampoo like Wash will cleanse without causing brassiness.

hands holding shampoo and conditioner bottles

Next best in your battle against brass are color-depositing or toning shampoos that temporarily correct unwanted warm shades. Purple shampoos can be a lifesaver for blondes wanting to keep your mane a cool platinum. For dark and red colors, I recommend a color-depositing shampoo or a touch-up toner from your salon stylist. 

Whatever you decide, I want you to make sure all the products you use are color-safe and gentle enough for your color-treated hair.


Four Ways You Can Prevent Your Hair Color From Fading

There’s no secret to why hair color fades. You will likely find the answer in the haircare products on your shower shelf. That’s the place I start when my clients ask me for advice. Here’s what I ask them:

1. Is Your Shampoo Color-Safe?

If your hair color looks dry, brassy, or faded, the number one reason is your shampoo routine. The first step to long-lasting color is to check what’s in your shampoo and how you’re using it.

Here’s my list of do’s and don’ts when washing your color-treated hair:

Don’t use clarifying shampoo: it will strip your color fast and leave it brassy. Dandruff shampoos will also fade your hair if not specifically color-safe. 

Wait 24 hours before shampooing your new color: dye takes a while to bind to your hair so don’t wash your new color straightaway.

Don’t use shampoos containing sulfates: sulfates are harsh cleansers that contain sulfuric acid that strip color from your hair. 

Think about a water filter: minerals and chemicals in your water may be fading your color and causing dry, dull hair. A shower filter can help.

Don’t wash your hair in hot water: use lukewarm temperatures because hot water opens your cuticles which allows your color to escape.

Apply your shampoo correctly: don’t slather your shampoo from roots to ends. Use a small amount and focus on your roots, letting the suds cleanse the rest without rubbing. 

Dry hair tends to be dull and faded. You can easily keep your color looking fresh by keeping your hair hydrated. I advise my clients to use a gentle, color-safe shampoo and conditioner like our Shower Duo that also moisturizes your hair.


2. Protect Your Hair Color From Heat

The coloring process works by using chemicals to open up your hair cuticle so that color can bind to your inner hair shaft (cortex). When you use hot water or heat-styling tools, your cuticle opens and allows your color to escape.

Heat-styling dries your hair out and leads to split ends and frizz. Damaged hair doesn’t hold color well so you’ll notice faster fading.

Because colored hair tends to be more fragile, I recommend taking extra care when styling with heat. You can protect your hair from heat-styling with a leave-in conditioner like Mend. Mend also contains a heat protectant. Heat protectants coat your strands with a protective shield so you can heat-style and keep your color salon-fresh for longer.


3. Is Your Hair Color Protected From the Sun?

The sun contains UVA and UVB rays that break down the chemical bonds in your hair color. The result – faded, brassy, and bleached tresses.  

Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend your summer in a cave. Here are a few easy ways you can protect your hair color from the sun:

Wear a hat: when you are out in the sun, cover your color with a hat. 

Don’t forget the sunscreen: look for a leave-in conditioner like Live In Mist that contains shea butter (a natural heat protectant) and a lightweight plant-based sunscreen for your hair. 

Keep your head above water: whether you’re in the sea or a pool, the salt water and chlorine will play havoc with your hair. Avoid soaking your hair or wear a swim cap to protect your color.  

What’s good for your color is also good for your hair health. Sunscreen for your hair keeps it shiny, hydrated, and prevents fading and brassy tones. It also reduces the appearance of hair damage.

4. Do You Wash Your Hair Too Often?

The more you wash your hair the faster it will fade. The solution – stretch the time between washes with a clean, moisturizing dry shampoo like Wait A Sec.

You can go up to 4 days between washes when you use a dry shampoo. Here’s how to pick the best one for colored hair:

Choose powder over aerosol: the chemicals used in aerosols can dry out your hair. Aerosol dry shampoos are also bad for the environment.

Avoid chalky residues: look for a dry shampoo with a slight tint that blends invisibly with your hair color.

Look for proactive ingredients: Wait A Sec refreshes your style and balances your scalp's natural oils. Next time you wash your hair, the conditioning and hydrating ingredients reactivate with water and deliver an additional boost to your hair and scalp. 

A good dry shampoo is so much more than a color-saving grease-buster. Dry shampoo can also improve the condition of your scalp and hair. Arey’s Wait A Sec does double duty balancing oils and providing the hair and scalp with nourishing ingredients.


Always Use Products Designed for Colored Hair

At Arey, we look to science to solve haircare problems. We discovered that aging, greying, and colored hair need balanced, gentle cleansing. They also need targeted ingredients that boost your hair’s thickness and strength. 

We know that strong, healthy hair takes color better and keeps it longer. That’s why the core of our haircare line is The System – a supplement and serum duo that delivers you stronger hair from the inside-out.

We care about your hair and your health. That’s why our products are always free from sulfates, phthalates, parabens, gluten, and artificial colors and fragrances. They are also vegan and cruelty-free. 

We want you to see results so we offer 25% off on all subscriptions to help keep you on track with your hair health goals. Because we believe that science + consistency = results.

You deserve to feel happy and confident with your hair. If you have any questions just send us an email hey@areygrey.com or go to our FAQ page.  

Jay Small, Stylist and co-founder of Arey, cuts a client’s hair

AuthorJay SmallJay Small is a sought-after hair stylist and Trichologist in Los Angeles with over 22 years of experience. His clients consist of high-profile business and creative leaders. He trained as an apprentice to the owner of Paul Mitchell and worked in education and product development for Paul Mitchell Systems. Jay is incredibly passionate about the creative process both in terms of styling hair and developing effective products.