If you color your hair there’s no doubt that you spend quite a bit of hard-earned cash, as well as precious time, sitting in hair salons each year to keep your color looking gorgeous. And if you’re like many people, you could unknowingly be washing a lot of that money down the drain each time you step into the shower.

Yes, coloring your hair and keeping it looking good-as-new can get pretty pricey, but there are some tried and true tips and tricks that can help you get the most bang for your beauty buck. So before you vow to never wash your hair again, read on for the know-how that will keep your color-treated tresses fade-resistant and looking fresh between salon visits.


Moisturize Your Mane

The chemicals in dye strip hair of its natural moisture and can leave your once lovely locks looking fried. This “fuzzy” look is a result of damage to hair cuticles–the outermost part of hair strands. And since hair is porous by nature, each hair-care product you add penetrates deep down causing more damage and color dullness. So, it goes without saying that keeping your hair hydrated is essential in alleviating dryness as well as preventing color-fade. Maintaining moisture takes more than a simple application of daily conditioner. Using a deep conditioning treatment before and after coloring your hair will help offset damage and lock in color.

To extend the life of your hair color even further, stylists suggest applying an at-home deep conditioning treatment every seven to ten days. Once you find a treatment that fits your budget and hair woes, apply it to damp, towel-dried hair and comb through from root to tip. Then, wrap your hair up in a bun, pin it in place and let the conditioner work its magic for 30 minutes before rinsing with lukewarm or cold water.


Shampoo Smartly

To maximize your color treatment, it’s important to know when you should and shouldn’t shampoo your hair. Shampooing incorrectly and too often can result in dull color–and more trips to the salon.

Skip the shampoo 24 to 48 hours before you color your hair. Natural oils from your hair and scalp will actually protect your hair, plus help color cling to your strands. You don’t have to worry about leaving styling products on your hair, either. Contrary to popular belief, product build-up won’t affect the coloring process.

After your color treatment, wait at least 24 hours (48, if you can stand it) before washing your hair. This will allow your color treatment to set, which will result in more vibrant color after your first post-appointment shampoo.

Say no to sulfates and sodium chloride when picking the perfect shampoo for your color-treated locks. Color-specific shampoos typically don’t contain sulfates that can strip color from your hair. Instead, these gentle shampoos contain potent color protectants like UV absorbers, antioxidants and vitamins that protect your hair from damaging free radicals.

Shampoo every other day. When cleansing color-treated hair, less is always more. As soon as your hair gets wet, color begins to escape, so washing your hair every day isn’t a good option to protect color. Allowing the oils in your hair to build up for a day or two will protect your hair color, naturally. Hair getting too oily by forgoing a daily shampoo? No problem. Simply use a dry shampoo or dry shampoo spray to eliminate that “greasy” look.

Use a color-depositing shampoo between salon visits if you notice your color fading a bit. This type of shampoo will color the surface of each hair strand temporarily. Just remember to go easy on these because the pigments in the shampoo can weigh your hair down if used too often. You should also always ask a colorist which shampoo hue is best for you!

Keep the water cool when rinsing your color-treated hair. Hot, steamy water can allow pigment to escape more freely, so opt for lukewarm or cold water when rinsing.


Condition Correctly

When caring for your color-treated hair, it’s important to know how to use hair conditioner correctly and effectively. When searching for the right conditioner for your color-treated tresses, look for daily conditioners that infuse hair with extra conditioning. Look for conditioners that contain natural ingredients like shea butter, vegetable glycerin, avocado oil, aloe and jojoba extract. All of these will help hydrate your hair, create shine and prevent frizz.

Once you pick your perfect conditioner, you must also be smart about applying it. Don’t just slather it on right after you rinse your shampoo! Conditioner won’t be able to penetrate hair strands when they’re dripping with water, so wring out excess H2O first before applying conditioner. Then, make sure to use your fingers or a wide-tooth comb to effectively coat each hair strand. When rinsing, always opt for lukewarm or cold water to prevent dehydration and brittle ends.


Stay Out of the Sun

Though that big, bright, warming star in the sky can offer natural health benefits like healthy doses of Vitamin D, and provide effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder, the sun’s harmful UV rays not only damage your delicate skin, but your hair, too. Light and heat from the sun can cause your hair color to fade and cause hair dehydration.

You don’t have to stay out of the sun completely, though. Just be smart about it! Protect your color-treated hair from the elements to prevent the formation of free radicals that fade color. If you know that you’ll be in the sun for extended periods of time, be sure to spray a leave-in hair treatment with a UV filter. Look for products that contain benzophenone-3 or -4, polyquaternium-59, cinnamidopropyltrimonium chloride and butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, and vitamins a, c and e. You might also want to double up on the pigment protection by choosing a shampoo with UV absorbers, as well. And for easy-breezy sun protection, simply throw on a stylish hat.

One more important thing to remember is that hot, summer sun isn’t the only type of sun that damages your hair. No matter the season, the sun’s UV rays can fade your color, so always use your sun smarts during the fall, winter and spring, as well.


Leave the Heat Alone

Blow dryers can be convenient, but this type of heat styling and others can also be your hair color’s worst nightmare. Heat is actually the greatest factor in color fading. The heat from certain styling tools can scorch your hair–especially when used daily. And once your hair heats up, the hair cuticle opens which allows hair color pigments to escape.

So, if you can bear it, put away that flat iron, curling iron and blow dryer most days. If you find yourself in a rush and need to dry your hair quickly, protect it with a spray containing UV filters and vitamins, then use your blow dryer on its lowest heat setting. Better yet, try to wait until your hair is just about dry before turning on the blow dryer or using any heat styling tools. When in doubt, just remember that damp is always better than dry!


Go for Gloss

If you find your hair color looking dull between salon visits, all you need is 10 minutes for a simple shine and color boost! Shiny hair actually masks dull color, and there’s a good chance that your salon offers hair glossing. You can utilize this affordable (and at times, free!) service to buy you more time between color retouches. And if your hair salon doesn’t offer hair glossing treatments, you can always opt for a gloss you can use at home. Look for a hair glossing product that contains broccoli seed, sweet almond oil and wheat germ to leave your hair looking absolutely gleaming.


Touch Up Color-Treated Tresses 

When you color your hair, root touch up products are your best friend in keeping your color looking fresh. Once you begin to notice regrowth, head to your local drug store to try a touch up pen. These magical pens are simple to use for at-home color correction–and also cover grays! Touch up pens are available in many shades, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that matches your unique color. Be sure to pick a pen that includes a brush for quick and easy application.


Have a Thing for Highlights

Before you decide on an all-over hair color treatment, consider opting for highlights instead to save more money and time. This look is low-maintenance and works with your natural hair color. If you go for highlights, your hair color won’t be masked completely which means that over time, roots and regrowth won’t be as noticeable.

On your first visit, highlights will usually take more time to apply than an all-over color treatment, but follow-up visits to the salon will only require a partial highlight, which means a quicker, less expensive hair color treatment for you.

Extend the life of your highlights by choosing a sulfate-free cream conditioner with chamomile extract. Chamomile naturally enhances highlights and nourishes chemically-treated hair.

There are multiple ways you can protect your color-treated hair to save time and money. Trying any combination of these tips will not only help you extend the life of your hair color, but allow you to achieve stronger, healthier hair, too!