You just spent a shit ton of money on your hair color, and it's only been two weeks and it's already fading. It feels like a total waste of time and money and you work hard for your money dammit.
I know that frustration. I've been there myself, many times.
Let's troubleshoot your situation.
First things first: what kind of shampoo are you using?
I promise you, most stylists are not salespeople. We honestly hate the idea of "selling". The reason your artist is recommending a specific shampoo and conditioner for your hair is because it is designed to help your color last.
You want to be using a professional system, preferably sulfate-free. Now, I know that a lot of drugstore brands offer sulfate-free options. You need to be careful though, because a lot of drugstore brands use inexpensive and ineffective ingredients. A lot of brands will claim to be sulfate-free, while still using a sulfate under a different chemical name. If your artist is recommending a shampoo and conditioner system, chances are it is a professional system with quality ingredients.
Trust me, investing in that shampoo and conditioner will save you money in the long run. Less fading = fewer salon visits and more money in your pocket.
Secondly: let's talk about your wash schedule.
It is time to wean yourself off the shampoo love. You really only need to be washing your hair every 3-5 days. (Personally, I only wash my hair once a week or so.) The more you wash your hair, the more you're washing your color (and your hard-earned money!) down the drain. I know it's hard, but start out by going one extra day at a time between washes. Invest in a good dry shampoo and learn some cute styles to hide your greasy roots and take a break. (Now to be clear, I am not saying never wash your hair. Just wash a little less often.)
Your water temperature matters. Like so much.
Heat in general will open your hair cuticle. That includes your hot tools (hair dryer, curling iron, flat iron, etc.) and your water temperature. I'm gonna get a little science-y, so buckle in.
Let's say you get highlights and a toner (or glaze, as a I prefer to call it). When your artist lightens your hair, they will often use a progressive, oxidative agent like a high-lift color or a lightener. These products work by dissolving the existing color molecule. Natural hair has a balance of red, blue, and yellow pigment. The blue molecule is removed first, leaving behind the red and yellow pigments. Have you ever bleached your own hair and been left with a nasty orange color? That's those red and yellow underlying pigments. Do you tend to "pull red"? That's that underlying pigment! Now, ideally, to get to a nice blonde color, your artist will allow the color or lightener to process until that red pigment is dissolved, leaving just the yellow pigment behind. (If you dissolve all the pigment, congratulations, your hair is trashed and you need a serious haircut.) The artist will then apply a toner or a glaze, usually violet-based to neutralize the remaining yellow pigment and leave you with a beautiful, balanced blonde.
As you wash your hair, that glaze is going to get washed away, leaving behind that brassy, yellow underlying pigment. Heat is going to open up that cuticle, releasing your glaze faster. Sub-par haircare products (shampoo, conditioner, styling, treatments, etc.) will rough up that cuticle and aggressively slough away your glaze. Washing more often, even with professional prescribed products, will also make your color fade faster.
"Jes, I'm doing everything you say, and my color is STILL fading!"
There are a couple reasons why your hair color may still be fading, even if you're following all of my directions. There's a lot that goes into all of these, so keep an eye out for detailed posts about all of these topics.
Your "professional" products were bought at Walmart, TJ Maxx, Ross, Amazon, etc. and not from your stylist.
Your hair is unhealthy, porous, or damaged.
You're going too long between color appointments.
Color is a science and an art. I studied high-level chemistry, physiology, anatomy, and microbiology, as well as color theory, art history, mathematics, and safety and sanitation and disinfection procedures in order to obtain my license. Over my ten years behind the chair, I have invested thousands of dollars in my continued education to provide you with the best color and chemical services money can buy.
If I'm making a recommendation regarding your hair care routine and wellness products, there is a damn good reason behind it. The fact is: I want you to love your hair. If your hair color is fading, that doesn't work for me. I want your color to last just as much as you do. I promise you: I never make a recommendation to purchase a specific product or service unless I believe in it completely.
Your hair is the one accessory you never take off. You owe it to yourself to invest in it and protect that investment.
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