Expert Tips for Rich Hair Color
If Your Hair Is Brown or Black
The challenges: Sun exposure and environmental pollutants, like smoke, “can make hair brassy or faded, which for brunets—faux or no—manifests as dull and dry,” says Francesca Fusco, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City. What’s more, when dark hair is dry and rough, it’s more likely than other colors to lack shine. “Think of it like the sea at night: When it’s smooth, the moonlight bounces off it. When there’s any break in that surface, it’s not as reflective,” says Eva Scrivo, the lead colorist for L’Oréal Professional.
The protection plan: To boost shine, dyers and nondyers alike benefit from a boar-bristle brush, like the classic Mason Pearson pocket bristle hairbrush ($99, neimanmarcus.com), to distribute scalp oils from roots to ends. A shine spray (like Carol’s Daughter Tui Moisturizing Hair Sheen; $18, carolsdaughter.com) spritzed on dry hair adds instant depth. Both camps should also wear leave-in conditioner (or a hat) in the sun to defend against fading, drying ultraviolet rays.
To keep bottle-given brown vivid, stick with shampoos and conditioners for color-treated hair, which are gentle and less apt to strip pigment than traditional formulas are. Once a week, use a hydrating mask (such as Living Proof Restore Mask Treatment; $42, sephora.com) to prevent hair from becoming lackluster. Also, “ask for a clear glaze every other time you color, or apply one twice a month at home,” says colorist Rebecca Friedman, a co-owner of the Goodform Salon, in Hollywood. (Try John Frieda Luminous Glaze Clear Shine Gloss; $10 at drugstores.)
If Your Hair Is Blond
The challenges: The very thing that makes blond hair, real or highlighted, appear blond is what makes it vulnerable: lack of pigment. Color molecules are like extra building blocks in the hair shafts. Without them, “hair is finer and more apt to break,” says Scrivo. Pale hair, unlike dark, can also read as washed-out. Then there are the chemical enemies: “Chlorine and metal deposits in the water supply can turn fragile blond hair orange or green,” says Scrivo.
The protection plan: Look for shampoos that contain lipids, proteins, or ceramides (the building blocks of hair) to keep blond hair strong and shiny. Oribe Shampoo for Beautiful Color ($37, oribe.com for salons) and Kevin.Murphy Blonde.Angel.Wash ($27.50, kevinmurphy.com.au for salons) are two worthy cleansers. As for conditioners, look for those with the word repair or reconstruct on the label—a clue that they contain hair-fortifying ingredients. Because people with fine hair tend to rely on blow-dryers and curling irons for volume, heat-protective sprays are essential. They help prevent frayed ends and frizz, which make hair look dull. Prior to air- or blow-drying, detangle with a wide-tooth comb, the most forgiving with fragile hair. (Try the Ouidad Double Detangler; $26, ouidad.com.) If you have hard water, which contains minerals that discolor hair, Scrivo recommends using a showerhead with a water filter—kind of like a Brita for the bath—such as the T3 Source Showerhead ($130, sephora.com). You can also look for shampoos identified as “chelating,” which is a fancy way of saying “mineral stripping.” A clarifying formula, like Redken Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo ($14.50, redken.com for salons), helps remove mineral deposits and product residue to make your blond brighter.
If Your Hair Is Red
The challenges: File this shade under “high maintenance.” Red shades, real or manufactured, have the largest-size color pigments. So when the cuticle (the outer layer) of the hair experiences any kind of damage, the pigments leak out, making the color “fade faster than any other,” says Giselle, a hair colorist at the Riccardo Maggiore Salon, in New York City.
The protection plan: Take lukewarm, not steaming, showers—key for any hair color but especially red. “Hot water causes the cuticle to open and release color molecules,” says Friedman. Even better, end with a cool rinse. Fusco recommends shampooing only twice a week and on the other days rinsing with water and using a lightweight conditioner. (One option is Wen by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner; $29, qvc.com.) “Using an intensive conditioning treatment every other wash also helps lock in color molecules,” says Fusco. Look for moisturizers like shea butter and jojoba oil (found in Bumble and Bumble Color Minded Conditioner; $32, bumbleandbumble.com) to help seal the cuticle. If you color your hair red and it’s losing its sizzle, head to the salon for a demipermanent crimson glaze between colorings; this will rev up the brightness for four to five extra weeks, says Scrivo. Home dyers can try a DIY glaze, such as Oscar Blandi At Home Salon Glaze ($27, ulta.com), once a week.
If Your Hair Is Gray
The challenges: Not only does it lack melanin (a.k.a. color), which your body stops producing as you get older, but like aging skin, gray hair is also usually dry. And it can be tough and wiry. “That’s a recipe for dullness,” says Fusco. Furthermore, gray hair can turn green from chlorine or yellow from UV rays and pollution.
The protection plan: “Brush gray hair regularly, at least twice a day, to stimulate the scalp and increase oil production, which will improve your hair’s texture and shine,” says Scrivo. To remove pollution buildup, Fusco recommends a clarifying shampoo once or twice a week. (Two good ones: Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo; $23, bumbleandbumble.com; and Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo; $25, sephora.com.) Follow with a moisturizing mask to make hair softer and shinier. (Try L’Oréal Paris EverCrème Moisture System Deep Nourishing Masque; $9 at drugstores. It contains grapeseed and apricot oils.) Cleansing with a violet-based shampoo, such as René Furterer Okara Mild Silver Shampoo (not shown; $28, dermstore.com), once or twice a week can also give gray a vivid tint, without veering into blue-hair territory. “The violet in the shampoo counteracts the yellowing that can occur over time,” says Parvin Klein, the color director of the John Barrett salon, in New York City. A glaze or a toner with the same violet tones (applied in a salon) works, too, and adds much needed shine, says Scrivo: “It’s similar to putting a clear coat of polish on your nails.” And if you color your hair gray (as you transition to completely gray), go with a semipermanent formula: It contains no peroxide, which means it is less drying and will fade more evenly.