Dear Daniela: My Hair Colour Fades So Quickly, What Can I Do?

photographed by Lauren Maccabee.
Dear Daniela,
I love colouring my hair, and I’ve been quite a few different shades, but I find it really hard to keep my colour looking fresh. It loses its shine so quickly. Colour is really expensive and it’s so frustrating to spend so much money for it only to last a few weeks before the colour turns dull! What can I do?
Stella, 28
There are lots of things in beauty you can scrimp on. Mascara, for one – I always find Max Factor and L’Oréal Paris perform just as well as designer brands. Sheet masks are another (they have superficial effects at best, so why cough up for some obscure niche brand when Dr. Jart does the trick?). Oh, and hairspray. If there’s a better hairspray on the planet than Elnett, I’m yet to find it. However, I always think it’s best to pay a little more for your hair colour if you can. Wherever you go, your colourist should give you a full consultation, carefully studying your hair type, history and routine before reaching for the foils. Nine times out of 10, this sort of service will be a little more expensive, but you do wear your hair every day.
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For example, if you want a pop of colour but can’t afford (fiscally or routinely) regular salon visits, your colourist should take that into account and give you something with minimal regrowth. Been box-dyeing your hair since you were 13? If your colourist doesn’t even ask about your hair history, please hang up your gown and walk away, because goodness knows what could happen when they put the bleach on. The same thing goes for colour fade – a lot of it is down to miscommunication between the client and the colourist.
I called my longtime colourist, Jenny Richards, at FOUR London to ask her advice: “Seeing colour fade within two weeks means something’s not right. We wouldn’t expect to see real fade for at least six weeks.” Hair colour is a huge process, and especially if you’re seeing a new colourist, it’s really important that they take a full history from you. “With blondes going brassy for example, it’s usually down to a colourist not taking into account the current condition of the hair, how it’s responded to colour in the past and the natural undertone of your hair underneath any dye,” said Jenny. My nonna always tells me: “You can lie to your priest because God knows the truth, but you must be honest with your doctor.” I’d extend that to your hairdresser, too – please tell them what your natural hair colour is and just how much abuse it’s been through. They’re there to help, not judge, and keeping mum on your hair history is a recipe for disaster.
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Moralising aside, here’s what you came for. First up, blondes. Jenny’s taken my hair from Neapolitan brown to Norwegian blonde over the years, and always warned me off any shampoos that claim to ‘revive blonde hair’. “I’m wary of those kinds of shampoos because quite often they actually have some colour pigment in them. While that sounds like a great idea, it will just tamper with your professionally applied colour and more often than not lead to random colour deposits over your head. I’d prefer my blonde clients to use a gentle purple shampoo.” She also name-checked La Biosthetique Couleur Shampoo Crystal 0.7 for bleached and blonde hair, noting that it was good for keeping out yellow tones, while keeping the hair hydrated.
If you’re a bottle redhead and often feel your colour vanishes faster than the good prosecco at your work drinks, you’re not wrong. “The red hair molecule is larger than other colour molecules, so it doesn't penetrate the cortex of the hair as deeply as other colours do. Therefore, since it isn't as deep, it can wash out easier,” explained Jenny. “Clear vegetable glosses are fantastic to keep the hair looking glossy and shiny for all hair colours, but redheads might find them especially useful. At FOUR, we tailor a bespoke vegetable colour for any client who wants them to use at home to brighten and refresh colour. They’re really popular with my redhead ladies.” If you need something off the shelf, Rita Hazan, who colours the hair of Beyoncé and J.Lo, has a brilliant at-home range. Try her Rita Hazan True Colour Ultimate Shine Gloss, but be sure to buy the clear to avoid the aforementioned colour deposit thing.
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As for brunettes, your best bet is using a good sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, and investing in at-home gloss, or asking for one in the salon. Jenny recommends Kérastase Bain Chromatique Shampoo & Conditioner for all shades of coloured hair, and Olaplex No.3 to keep the hair strong and healthy.
I understand that after forking out for salon colour, buying salon-brand shampoo feels like adding insult to injury, but you’re essentially rinsing all the money you just spent down the drain if you don’t use the right products. “Sulfate-free is the main thing. Harsh shampoo will only strip your colour aggressively,” added Jenny.
I think it’s also worth mentioning that heat attacks your colour as well as your hair texture, so always use heat protection when styling your hair – even with rough drying. “Modern hairdryers get super hot, which is great for speed drying but can be very harsh on the hair,” Jenny noted. It’s also key to properly rinse your hair, with shampoo, after swimming in a pool or the sea to remove chlorine and salt. Pools are probably the worse of the two, as the copper in the pipes can make blonde tones go green, but a build-up of saltwater ain’t great either.
Good luck!
Daniela
Got a question for our resident beauty columnist Daniela Morosini? No problem, qualm or dilemma is too big, small or niche. Email deardaniela@refinery29.uk, including your name and age for a chance to have your question answered. All letters to ‘Dear Daniela’ become the property of Refinery29 and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.
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