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Why Is My Hair Color Fading?


When maintaining freshly colored hair, there are a few things to consider to ensure your money and color don’t go down the drain…literally. First, we must take a holistic approach to hair health and color. What goes on before and during your color service is just as important as what comes after.

Read on to find out how to prevent hair color from fading.

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1) Determine Hair’s Porosity Level

Prior to coloring, it’s important to determine the hair’s health. You may be wondering how to determine what the hair needs. The easiest way to diagnose hair health is to conduct The Wet Stretch Test. This simple test will reveal if the hair is lacking protein, moisture or both. Both protein (keratin) and moisture are essential components of healthy hair—if they’re missing, your hair color could fade quickly.

If hair is in poor condition (we’re looking at you split ends), a protein or moisturizing treatment may be needed before you color. This will help “fill in” empty spaces in the hair and give the color molecules a better anchor point, resulting in longer lasting color results.

 2) Insufficient Color Processing Time

A common reason behind fast-fading hair color is insufficient processing time, meaning the hair color did not stay on long enough. This especially holds true if you or your client have grey hair.

Grey hair cuticles are tightly packed down and take longer to open and absorb artificial hair color molecules.

3) Hard Water Effects on Hair Color

It’s estimated that nearly 65% of Americans have hard water in their homes. The elements present in hard water, specifically calcium and magnesium, are extremely problematic when trying to ensure lasting hair color results. They tend to build up on the hair over time and can prevent color molecules from penetrating the cuticle. If you live in an area with hard water, we recommend removing minerals from the hair with Malibu-C Crystal Gels.

Learn how hard water affects hair color.

4) Inadequate Emulsification

Emulsifying the hair at the shampoo bowl is one of the essential components of a successful and long-lasting color service. For a proper emulsification process, add a small amount of water to the hair and begin to massage the hair and color together, creating a nice lather.

By properly emulsifying the hair, you’re breaking up the oil-based color and ensuring the hair has absorbed as much color as possible before closing the cuticle.

ORGANIC TIP: You should be emulsifying at the bowl for approximately 4-5 minutes.


5) Rinsing with Hot Water

When the time comes to rinse out the hair color, be sure that you’re rinsing with lukewarm water. Too hot of water can cause the cuticle to open further, allowing for some of the color to rinse out during your shampoo process.

ORGANIC TIP: When clients wash their hair at home, they should also only use lukewarm water. Scalding hot water will only cause their hair color to fade prematurely.

6) Shampooing Hair Too Soon After Coloring

Remind your clients that waiting at least 24 hours to wash their hair after their color service will help prolong their fresh, new color. However, what may be more important than waiting to shampoo is using the correct aftercare products.

7) Using Products That Strip Hair Color

The number one ingredient to avoid in your aftercare products is SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfates). However, using color care shampoo and conditioners that are also pH-balanced and free of plastics will prove to enhance and extend the life of hair color.

Using products with too high of a pH can cause the cuticle to re-open. An open cuticle will ultimately cause your hair color to fade fast and off tone. In addition, styling products that are loaded with plastics and petrochemicals can build up on the hair, causing hair to appear dull and lifeless.

8) Improper UV Protection

Using products without proper UV protection is an open invite for the harsh, damaging UV rays of the sun to fade hair color. If clients do not have proper UV protection in the hair, advise them to wear a hat when they are outside to limit exposure.

ORGANIC TIP: Try sending your clients home with shampoo, conditioner, or leave-in products formulated with natural UV protectants, such as Oway Color Protection Veil and Color Protection Hair Bath.

9) Using Hot Styling Tools Without Heat Protection

Another hair color culprit are hot tools! If your client is an adamant user of flat irons, curling wands and blow dryers, be sure they are using thermal protection hair products. This will protect the delicate hair against extreme heat and allow color to stay in the hair longer.

10) Color Hair Too Infrequently

Although there are semi-permanent and permanent hair color options, no color will look the same as the first day it was done. By addressing the previously stated causes of hair color fading, we also suggest making sure you are coloring your hair regularly enough to achieve your desired results.

Do you know any other causes of hair color fading? Feel free to share below!

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  1. Diane

    My stylist used Clairol 9.0/8.3 on my hair. It was too dark, but she said it would fade.
    I did not wash my hair for nearly seven days and there had been little or no sunshine. For some reason the colour faded back to its old colour within ten days?
    I wondered if too much peroxide and not enough of the colour was used?

  2. disqus_aB1B5oeAy0

    My hair was previously bleached pretty badly. after it was dyed purple but the color didn’t catch properly it was all a bad idea and i regret trusting the stylist in the first place because it absolutely ruined my hair and the result was a fail. The bleach left my hair damaged and dry and the color was horrible. I waited a few weeks for the purple to completely wash out then I decided to go dark brown (close to my natural hair color). I saw another stylist who suggested I go for a dark brown leaning towards an eggplanty shade. It was a beautiful color and it turned out amazing, looked healthy again. I thought that was it, but the stylist warned me that because of the damage from the bleach, my hair was so weak that it won’t catch the color too well and therefore fade really fast. After 3 or 4 washes it went back to a very very light brown, and it had multiple undertones and again it looked like it was gonna get worse. I don’t want to keep dying my hair every three weeks or so. my hair is not in a good condition for that and I really want to stop dying for good but i have no idea what to do about the color because it is that bad and it continuously keeps fading lighter and lighter. How do i fix this ?

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