Hair Care

How to Prolong Your Hair Color

You spend hours sitting uncomfortably on a salon chair, enduring neck and back pain, inhaling toxic fumes, and spending a small fortune hoping to get that dreamy hair color you saw on Instagram or on your favorite celebrity.

After obtaining your desired hair color, you notice the color fading after washing your hair for a couple of times. Watching your hair color fade is a frustrating and disappointing experience. Fortunately, there are plenty of tips and tricks you can employ to prolong the life of your hair color, and slow down your hair dye from fading.

Types of Hair Dyes

Hair dyes are hair coloring agents that either penetrate your hair shaft and bond to your hair’s cortex, or are deposited onto the surface of your hair shaft, permanently or temporarily changing your hair color. Depending on the type of hair dye used, the color results can be dramatic or subtle, permanent or temporary.

There are four different types of hair dyes on the market, each produced to satisfy specific consumer needs, and deliver different results. The various types of hair dyes differ in their longevity and coloring mechanism. The four types of hair dye are:

Permanent Hair Dye

Permanent hair dyes use a two-step process to change your hair color. This type of hair dye uses ammonia and hydrogen peroxide to deposit color particles inside your hair shaft, permanently changing your hair color.

Ammonia is a powerful alkaline agent that raises the pH level of your hair to forcefully open up your hair shaft’s cuticles. Your hair’s cuticles are the outermost protective layer of your hair fiber. They are composed of dead protein cells that overlap one another, looking like shingles on a roof.

An intact and healthy cuticle layer protects the core and integrity of your hair fiber. The health and condition of your hair cuticles determine the strength, health, and shine of your hair.

Once ammonia opens up your hair’s cuticles, the color particles from your hair dye penetrate deep into your hair shaft, and bond to your hair’s cortex. Your hair’s cortex is the inner core of your hair fiber, where your hair’s pigment is stored, giving your hair its distinct color.

With your hair cuticles opened, the hydrogen peroxide in your permanent hair dye penetrates into your hair shaft. Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent that works to decolorize your existing hair color.

As your existing hair color is decolorized, and new color particles are deposited inside your hair shaft, your hair takes on the color of your permanent hair dye.

Permanent hair dyes change the color of your hair permanently. Permanent hair dyes are the most potent type of hair dye, allowing you to achieve any hair color imaginable. This type of hair dye can lighten and darken your hair, and cover up gray hair with relative ease, producing long-lasting and dramatic results.

Image courtesy of FreepikWhile the color of permanent hair dyes is long-lasting, ammonia and hydrogen peroxide are harsh chemicals that dry out and damage your hair, producing brittle and breakage-prone hair.

Demi-Permanent Hair Dye

Demi-permanent hair dyes are gentler, and less damaging on your hair than permanent hair dyes. This type of hair dye uses less potent alkaline agents and lower strength hydrogen peroxide to color your hair.

Demi-permanent hair dyes contain less potent alkaline agents such as sodium carbonate and ethanolamine, which are milder and less damaging than ammonia. Due to its milder nature compared to permanent hair dyes, demi-permanent hair colors are not as potent as permanent hair dyes.

Demi-permanent hair dyes produce a subtle color change. They can be used to darken your hair and cover up gray hair, but they are not effective for lightening your hair or producing dramatic colors. The alkaline agents and hydrogen peroxide used in demi-permanent hair dyes are too mild to produce a dramatic hair color change.

Demi-permanent hair dyes are generally milder and gentler on your hair, causing less hair damage, but they don’t last as long as permanent hair dyes. Demi-permanent hair dyes last up to 28 shampoos.

Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Semi-permanent hair dyes use color particles of small molecular weight and low strength hydrogen peroxide to color your hair. Semi-permanent hair dyes do not contain ammonia or any other alkaline agent. With no alkaline agents to open up your hair cuticles, the penetration capability of color particles in semi-permanent hair dyes is weak.

Semi-permanent hair dyes are weaker and less damaging than demi-permanent hair dyes, producing very subtle and temporary hair color change. Semi-permanent hair dyes will last up to eight shampoos.

Temporary Hair Dye

Temporary hair dyes, also known as wash out hair dyes, color your hair by depositing color particles onto the surface of your hair shaft, producing temporary hair colors that wash away quickly.

Temporary hair dyes contain color particles with a large molecular weight. Due to their large molecular weight, the color particles cannot penetrate into your hair shaft. They can only deposit and adhere to the surface of your hair shaft, giving you a temporary hair color change.

Temporary hair dyes impart a colored tint on your hair. As a result, temporary hair dyes are best for people with light hair who want to experience a temporary color change without the commitment of a longer-lasting hair dye.

Temporary hair dye is available in many forms, including shampoos, conditioners, sprays, foams, and gels. Temporary hair dyes last up to three shampoos.

How to Make Your Hair Color Last Longer

Different types of hair dyes last for varying durations, but certain activities can speed up the fading of your hair color, forcing you to dye your hair more frequently to maintain your hair color.

Frequently dying your hair can put a big dent in your wallet and damage your hair. Fortunately, there are ways to extend the life of your hair color and slow down its fading process. Follow these tips to make your hair color last longer:

Don’t Wash Your Hair with Hot Water

Avoid washing your hair with hot water. Heat opens up your hair’s cuticles, enabling color particles to leach out and wash away, resulting in color fade every time you wash your hair with hot water.

To preserve your hair color for as long as possible, wash your hair with the coldest water you can bear. Cold water closes your hair’s cuticles, minimizing color fade. This results in a longer lasting hair color.

Shampoo Less Often

Shampoos contain lathering agents that work with water to wash away oil, dirt, sweat, and dead skin cells, giving you a cleaner scalp and hair. Unfortunately, shampoos can also wash away your hair color, resulting in some degree of color fade every time you shampoo your hair. The harsher the shampoo, the more color it strips from your hair.

Try to minimize the use of clarifying and deep cleansing shampoos, as these shampoos are harsh and will strip away your hair color quickly. To prolong your hair color, decrease your shampooing routine, use mild sulfate-free shampoos, or use shampoo alternatives such as dry shampoo to give your hair a clean look.

Use Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoos are powder sprays that neutralize odors and absorb excess oil from your scalp and hair, giving your hair a clean look. Dry shampoos are sprayed and massaged onto areas of your scalp and hair that need deodorizing and degreasing, giving you a clean, fresh, and voluminous head of hair.

Because dry shampooing does not involve water or lathering agents, your hair color stays intact and does not fade or wash away with every dry shampooing procedure. To extend your hair color for as long as possible, replace most of your regular shampooing sessions with dry shampooing to prevent color fade with every wash.

Use Color-Depositing Shampoos and Conditioners

To slow down hair color fade and maintain your vibrant hair color, use high-quality color-depositing shampoos and conditioners to add color particles to your hair.

Color-depositing shampoos and conditioners contain color particles with a large molecular weight that deposit and adhere to the surface of your hair shaft, sprucing up your hair color and making it more vibrant. Color-depositing shampoos and conditioners can extend and prolong the life of your hair color without any damage done to your hair.

Avoid Chlorine

Chlorine is a chemical disinfectant that is used extensively as an antimicrobial agent to kill pathogens and other harmful microorganisms. Chlorine is commonly used in swimming pools and municipal water to disinfect the water and make it safe for human use and consumption. Chlorine is also a bleaching agent, stripping color from anything that comes into contact with it.

To prevent your hair color from fading, reduce or prevent contact between your hair and chlorine. To prevent contact between your hair and chlorine, install a shower filter in your bathroom, and protect your hair in swimming pools.

A shower filter reduces the amount of chlorine in your shower water, helping to prolong your hair color.

Also, if you want to swim in a swimming pool, use a protective barrier on your hair to minimize contact between your hair and the chlorinated pool water. When in a swimming pool, wear a swim cap or a leave-in conditioner on your hair to prevent the chlorinated pool water from coming into contact with your hair, helping to extend the life of your hair color.


Hair coloring is a fun and popular cosmetic procedure to enhance your attractiveness and express your identity. But preserving your vibrant hair color can be a time-consuming and high-maintenance ordeal. The initial hue and vibrancy of a fresh dye job do not last very long, as many external factors accelerate the fading of your hair color.

Fortunately, there are many tips and hacks you can employ to extend the life of your hair color. The tips and tricks described here can help you slow down the fading of your hair color, and make your hair color last longer. Using smart techniques to prolong your hair color can help you save money and minimize damage to your hair.

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