Have you ever run into a hair color client a few weeks after her service—in the grocery store or at the dry cleaners—and tried to hide because her color had faded so horribly? You know color doesn’t stay put forever, but isn’t there something you can do to slow the fade to a crawl?
Turns out the answer is yes! Sexy Hair Director of Education and Shows Stephanie Polansky offers these pro and client tips for keeping color as vivid and vibrant as possible, in the salon and after the color service.
- Understand porosity and elasticity. If porosity or elasticity are impaired, say a hasty goodbye to haircolor. So before you mix up any color, do a porosity test by running a wet strand of hair through your fingers. If it’s healthy it will feel dense and smooth. If it’s porous it will feel rough. If it’s extremely porous it will be extremely rough and feel like bubblegum. That will tell you the cuticles are frayed, and color won’t stay put inside the strand, so you’ll have to restore protein. To test elasticity, take a wet strand of hair and stretch it. Normal hair stretches 50% and snaps back. Hair with no or low elasticity stretches only 20% if it doesn’t stretch, it means it’s too dry to retain color and you must restore moisture.
- Know your color technology. Everyone knows reds fade more quickly than blondes and brunettes. Why? Because the red dye molecule is the largest and therefore most difficult for the hair to hold onto. Also in that category? Fashion colors like pink, blue, green, etc. Not only are their molecules larger, they’re often preceded by pre-lightening, which can compromise hair porosity.
- Formulate wisely. Be thoughtful about your formulations. Best example? If you’re retouching, or if the mids and ends are damaged or compromised in some way, consider using permanent color on the regrowth and demi- or semi-permanent on the rest of the strand to minimize damage and color impact.
- Time carefully. “Hairdressers can be bad about processing time,” says Polansky, “but it’s important to avoid under-processing your color. You have to allow time for the color molecule to process completely—if it doesn’t it will wash out and the color will appear faded.”
- Shampoo with care. After processing the color in the salon, don’t get carried away with the shampoo. Use cool water to prevent the cuticle from swelling and get the shampoo on and off quickly. “Save your luxurious scalp massage for the conditioning step of the shampoo,” suggests Polansky.”
- Regular trims help. Split or damaged ends are like trap doors for color—they allow the dye to slip right out. Keeping ends snipped and sealed will help prolong color intensity all along the strand.
- Watch out for UV rays. The sun bleaching that happens to your client’s rugs and furniture also happens to her hair. So advise her to wear hats outdoors, and use formulas with UV protection, like Vibrant Sexy Hair Color Lock UV Color Protection Hairspray and Memory Prep & Style Blow Out Spray.
- Pat don’t rub. Another word to the wise client—refrain from vigorously rubbing hair after shampooing. It’s better to gently pat hair dry instead, which will cause less disturbance to the dye molecules.
- Dial down the heat. Heat from thermal tools is no friend to haircolor! And yet, if a client’s flat iron or dryer goes up to 450 degrees, chances are she’ll set it to 450 degrees! Explain that unless her hair is ultra-thick or coarse, a temperature under 350 degrees will get the job done and be a lot easier on her color.
- Use color-coddling products. Color care products really help when it comes to prolonging color longevity. Polansky recommends the revamped Vibrant Sexy Hair Color Lock System. She explains, “The shampoo and conditioner keep color vibrant up to 75 washes. The system is formulated with rose and almond oil to maintain optimum porosity and elasticity. The hair spray and the new Vivid Memory Prep & Style Blow Out Spray both offer UV protection.”