Why is My Hair Color Fading: 10 Things to Consider


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 lasting hair 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.

1) Porosity Level of Hair

If you’re not conducting the Wet Stretch Test prior to a color service, then you’re missing a very vital part of hair health diagnostics. The Wet Stretch Test will reveal hair’s porosity level – letting you know if it’s lacking moisture or protein (or both).

Once the condition of the hair has been determined, it should be treated with the appropriate reconstructor BEFOREthe color service. Treating the hair prior to coloring will fill in any of the hair’s missing components, allowing for healthier hair and better color retention.

ORGANIC TIP: Refrain from using conditioner during this step, the pH of the conditioner will only close the cuticle, effectively blocking color from penetrating the hair.

2) Insufficient Color Processing Time

A common reason behind fast-fading hair color is insufficient processing time, meaning the hair dye 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.

If you’re an organic color user, it’s vital that your hair process under the dryer for 15 minutes and cool down without heat for an additional 15 minutes. If you’re looking to cover grey, increase the time to 20-25 mins under the dryer, and allow for a 10 minute cool down.

ORGANIC TIP: Be sure your dryer is at a solid (106-107°F). This is the ideal temperature to gently open the cuticle, allowing the hair color molecules to penetrate, and also, allowing the cuticle to be closed during the conditioning process.

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.

To find out how hard water effects hair color and if you live in area with hard water, read on here.

4) Inadequate Emulsification

Emulsifying the hair at the shampoo bowl is one of the most 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. Scolding hot water will only cause their hair color to fade prematurely.

6) Shampooing Hair Too Soon After Coloring

Reminding 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 product formulated with natural UV protectants, such as Sunflower.

9) Using Hot Styling Tools Without Heat Protection

Another hair color culprit are hot tools! If your client is adamant user of flat irons, curling wands, and blow dryers, be sure they are using thermal protection. 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!