In an ideal world, sitting in a salon chair for the duration of three podcasts would be the most onerous part of getting your hair colored. But as anyone who has ever switched up their shade before knows, the treatment itself is just the beginning: It's the upkeep afterwards that can make or break your new style.
Maintaining color-treated hair is a substantial — but worthwhile — commitment and something to be considered before heading into the salon. The amount of upkeep you'll need varies from person to person and hangs on a few factors: the type of color you get, your natural hair texture, how quickly your hair grows, and how much time you're willing and able to commit to it. Yes, it can all feel slightly overwhelming.
But fear not, fellow salon-goers: That's where we come in. Ahead, we're breaking down the most essential maintenance tips for all types of color-treated hair, from delicate honey highlights to queen-of-dragons-worthy bleached blonde. (Spoiler alert: It starts even before you head into the salon.) "You have to increase the way you take care of your hair," insists Nexxus global creative director Kevin Mancuso, "and the steps you take before and after [the treatment] are important." So whether you're going for subtle balayage or a silvery-white double process, here's exactly how to set your style up for success and keep it thriving long afterwards.
Whether you opt for root-to-tip highlights or bespoke, painterly balayage, lightening 30-40% of your hair — through bleaching or a high lift tint — means "you now have a combination of different elasticities," says Mancuso, from resilient virgin strands to drier, more damaged ones. (For women with thin hair, this newfound texture is actually often a selling point to seeking out highlights.) The key to maintenance, then, is keeping blonde strands healthy and bright with a toning purple shampoo like Nexxus Blonde Assure Shampoo and preventing further damage by maintaining hair's moisture and hydration. Apply a deep-conditioning mask once a week, like the Color Assure Deep Moisture Masque, to replenish proteins and keep strands shiny, vibrant, and healthy.
With single-process color — whether it be temporary or permanent color depositing — your maintenance goal is less repairing damage and more preserving the same vibrancy and saturation that you walked out of the salon with.
Don't be afraid to do a protein-infused gel treatment before heading into the salon to strengthen strands: "There's a misconception that if you do a treatment before the color, you’re going to prevent the process from happening or slow it down, and that's just not true," says Mancuso. (You'd only run into issues with a waxier, insoluble substance, like pomade.) The healthier your hair starts out, the less susceptible it will be to color loss.
In the weeks after your treatment, be as gentle as possible with your hair to keep color from fading. This includes everything from switching to a softer, boar-bristle hair brush to using a sulfate-free cleansing conditioner, like Color Assure Cleansing Conditioner, which "detangles and cleanses the hair in one step." At any point when you're looking for a little color boost, add the Color Assure Masque at the tail end of your in-shower routine to increase vibrancy and shine.
Think about what goes down in a double process: You're stripping all your hair of its natural pigment, to then tone or add a new color on top afterwards. It doesn't get much more damaging than that! To maintain optimal hair health, diligence is key. "It's about being as strict [with your hair] as you are with your skin," insists Mancuso.
For those who go all-out blonde, use an intensely nourishing mask at least once a week (like keratin-protein-rich Nexxus Keraphix Masque) and swap in a purple shampoo to banish brassiness and keep your blonde bright. For those who go an exciting new shade with their double process (trendy copper, anyone?), use the Color Assure Masque to maintain both saturation and moisture at the same time.
When it comes to styling, hold off on the dehydrating hot tools when you can, and avoid blowdry salons at all costs: "That's like sending your nice sweater to a bad dry cleaner." Wait long enough before going back in for a touch-up so your colorist has roots to work with without overlapping on hair that's already been treated, which will cause double-duty damage.
And, hey: Who says roots aren't a style of their own, anyway?