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Home / Hair / How to Care for Colored Hair

How to Care for Colored Hair

I get many reader requests for how to care for colored hair. I’ve learned several tips and tricks over the years, so I’m going to share them with you.

This is what works on my hair. What works on my hair may not work on your hair. My hair is fine, thin, and straight. My natural hair color is only a step or two away from black. I’ve even included a picture of my natural hair color in this post. Despite being dark, I tend to bleach up pretty easily.

My blonde & hot pink hair from March 2011.

My Blackened Purple hair.

Don’t wash your hair every day.
I think many people overwash their hair, which strips it of its natural oils. Unless the scalp is very oily, I don’t believe it needs to be washed every day. I typically wash once a week, sometimes twice. If you’re unsure of how often you should be washing your hair, talk to your stylist! I know they’ll be happy to offer you advice.

I took my hair from fuchsia to turquoise.

Use Sulfate-free products.
I use sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. This is easier on your color and it doesn’t cause it to ‘wash out’ as much. You can even go a step further and use color-protecting sulfate-free products. I recommend Marc Anthony‘s product line or TIGI Bed Head Superstar Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner for Thick Massive Hair.

The front of my hair was lightened. The back is my natural color. I applied Turquoise over all of it to achieve the turquoise and dark blue-black effect.

Make Your Own Colored Version of Shampoo & Conditioner
I’ve done this in the past, but not for several years. I’d take a small amount of Manic Panic or Punky Color and mix it into my shampoo or conditioner to help my color stick around longer whenever I had to wash my hair.

From blonde & hot pink to Vampire Red & Hot Pink

Use dry shampoo in between washes.
If your hair is oily, try to prolong a day or two between washing it by using dry shampoo. I highly recommend Batiste, which can be found at Sally’s Beauty Supply. You spray it in your hair at the roots, leave it in for about five minutes, and then brush it out. I’ve never found another dry shampoo as good as Batiste.

Pink and Purple hair

Use Warm Water.
Rather than blasting your head with the hottest water available, use warm (or cool) water. Hot water leeches dye out of the hair faster.

Magenta and midnight blue

Leave-in Conditioner
If you have fine hair that is prone to being weighed down, I suggest you use your sulfate-free shampoo, and then use a leave-in conditioner  to detangle your hair. Tigi’s Superstar Leave-In Conditioner has been my go-to for years.

October 2009 cut. Peacock colors.

Use Heat-Protectant
When styling your hair with the blow dryer, flat iron or curling iron, use a heat protectant such as Redken Blown Away Protective Blow Dry Gel or Marc Anthony Keratin Smoothing Blow Dry Cream.

That’s my natural dark color on top with raspberry on the bottom.

Use a Hair Masque
Color treated hair needs some extra TLC. Use a deep conditioning treatment or hair masque. I love Redken Cat Strength Builder Plus. It’s what I used when I had extensions in my hair to help the extensions lats longer. I also love Tigi Dumb Blonde Reconstructor. You want your hair to be moisturized.

Water or Cap
I have a pool. So when I want to swim, I either fully saturate my hair with cold water, or I wear a swim cap. I typically use the swim cap when I’m swimming alone.

Deep Turquoise Blue December 2010

Ray Bans
Keep the UV rays at bay with a spray in UV protectant. Redken Color Extend Sunscreen protectant works wonders. You can also wear a large brimmed hat outside to help protect your tresses.

Very short on the right side, long on the left.

Color Extend
To extend my color and keep it bright, I typically use Manic Panic or Jerome Russel Punky Color. To lighten my hair I typically use Kaleidocolors Tonal Powder Lightener in Violet. After bleaching my hair, I apply Manic Panic color liberally to my hair. If I’m doing multiple shades, I foil the sections off to separate them. I then put a cap on and use my blow dryer on my head for a half hour or so. I’ll usually leave on the color for another hour or two after that. You can only do this with a semi-permanent dye like Manic Panic, because they don’t contain bleach. They’re basically vegetable dyes that sort of conditions as they deposit color.

One of my many red hair styles with a bit of purple

I should say that while I do like Pravana Color Silk Vivids, once you decide to use that line you really have to stick with it as it’s a pain to color over. That’s why I haven’t used it in a long time. I am too mercurial with my hair and like to change it all too often.

Blonde and cotton candy pink.

Color Mistakes
When coloring your hair at home, you may make mistakes. I know I have. What I’ve relied on to help me fix mistakes OR to remove color so I can change my look is One n’ Only Color Fix. I’ve had this work well on my hair to remove color so I can start over. It doesn’t always remove all of a Manic Panic or Punky color, depending how long you’ve been dyeing your hair that color, but it does a pretty good job at removing most of it. Semi-permanents like Manic Panic sort of act like a stain that builds up on the hair, from my understanding of it. So while One n’ Only can remove a lot of the color, it can’t always remove everything. The way it was explained to me that One n’ Only works is that it somehow causes the color molecules to shrink and then you wash them out of your hair. It doesn’t get every color molecule out, but it does remove a lot.

I used One n’ Only to go from dark to light.

Equipment Tips
Make sure you buy a box of disposable gloves to use. Don’t be afraid to change gloves during the middle of a dye if you need to!
I always recommend painting your nails with at least clear nail polish and ‘wrapping the tips’ (painting the underside of the nails) to prevent dye from getting on them.
I use plastic bowls and tint brushes from Sally’s for mixing.

Dye Tips
I recommend trying the Manic Panic Amplified cream colors. If the color you want isn’t available in Manic Panic Amplified Cream, try classic Manic Panic or Punky color. My favorite colors that are available in the amplified formula are Hot Hot Pink, Atomic Turquoise, Ultra Violet, Vampire Red, Pillarbox Red and Purple Haze. For coarser hair, it is my understanding that you need to use a 40 developer I typically use 20, 30 or 40 on my hair depending how light it needs to go. If you have trouble buying them at your local Sally’s, you can always try to buy the Manic Panic Amplified cream formula online.

You can use a plastic spoon to mix the color. Some colors state not to use anything metallic with them, otherwise you can use a tiny whisk.

You can buy ear caps to cover your ears and prevent dye from getting on them during the process. Also, pick up hair dye remover wipes. They’re great for removing stains from the skin.


Me with my hair curled by a curling iron

Tips for Curly Hair – The Curly Hair Method – courtesy of Sarsie, created by Lorraine Massey (owner of DevaChan Salon)
There are a couple of versions of the Curly Hair method, but you can either wash your hair with only water (water washing or no-pooing), a sulfate- & silicone-free conditioner (co-washing), or with a sulfate- & silicone-free shampoo (low-pooing).

You then condition with a sulfate- & silicone-free conditioner and use a sulfate- & silicone-free leave-in. The final step is to use a silicone-free product while the hair is still really wet (most of us with curly hair use gel or some other type of product that will keep the curls in place until they dry, and then we SOTC — scrunch out the crunch). Not using regular towels is encouraged (instead use things like an old tshirt or flour sack towels or other towels without the terry loops), and most CGers plop (there are videos!) with the towels for at least a few minutes.

We try to air dry as much as possible, but diffusing for at least part of the drying time is ok, too. And also important — never brush hair and only comb with fingers or a wide-tooth comb in the shower when hair is coated with conditioner (so dry shampoos would never work for me).


April 2012

I’m sure that there’s still plenty for me to learn and new tricks to add to my hair routine to extend the color of my hair. These do work quite well for me but I’m always hunting for more knowledge!

Is there anything you think I should add to my routine?

How do you handle your hair if you color it?

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  • About Phyrra Nyx

    Phyrra is an award-winning cruelty-free beauty blogger. She is hair obsessed, into alternative fashion, an avid urban fantasy reader, and a standard poodle fan.
    • Marta

      I loved coloring the ends of my hair (which is pretty long) in teal or dark red, and I agree with you in almost every tip you’ve given. Especially the warm water, not overwashing and moisturize!
      Also, a question: we don’t (just don’t) have dry shampoos in Spain, but I’d love to try one for the summer. In winter, 3 times a week is OK but summer is coming (ha! reverse Game of Thrones! XD) and I end up washing my hair almost everyday. I have a Lush shop close from home, have you heard anything good about their dry shampoo? People I trust mostly talk about their bathing products (with good reason!)
      Thanks for the tips!

      • Phyrra

        I haven’t heard anything about Lush dry shampoo and I’ve never tried it. I might try to see if I can get a sample of it try and report back to you. I know that Batiste is a European brand, but it sounds like it’s not available in Spain?

        I’m glad you agree with the tips :) Did I leave anything out?

        For me to go from washing my hair every day to washing it every 5 to 7 days was hard, but once I made that transition my hair (and my stylist) was so much happier.

        • Marta

          Ok then I guess I’ll probably get a Batiste on Ebay to try it out, it’s not pricey and I like that there are different smells I can choose.
          I have a recipe for dry ends because dying and flat ironing usually makes mine so, especially in the summer; and I love mixing herbal remedies for well, anything. I make the mixture of essental oils, and the one that works for me is 50% almond, 30% lavender and 20% rosemary. I warm the oils in my hand, apply just a tiny bit, let it sit and rinse. Also the smell is relaxing and lovely to me. For a friend I put rose instead of rosemary, and she has a dry scalp so she uses it there every week the whole year.
          But for most people (with an oily roots/dry ends type, like me) it’s better and cheaper to get an aloe plant, and every once in a while cut open a leaf, mash the pulp and apply it in your scalp. Not oily, really hydrating and also soothing for dye-related incidents.
          Sorry for the hippie ramblings xD

          • Phyrra

            No, I love hearing it :)

      • http://rocknpolish.blogspot.com Danielle

        i watched a review on youtube by blair fowler (juicycouture07) about the lush dry shampoo and she loves it. if that’s all you have, i say get it.

        • Phyrra

          I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for the rec Danielle.

    • Melissa

      Another blogger also mentioned that dry shampoo. I went to sallys and couldn’t find it. I asked the girl who worked there and she said it was being discontinued. I am not sure if it is just Sally not carrying it, the brand, or just my local Sally’s. If u hear anything let me know :) I would love to try it…I have extremely thick hair that is oily and must wash everyday.

      • Phyrra

        Oh no! I hope it’s not discontinued!

    • The Peach

      Great post! While I don’t color my hair any fun/bright colors, I do have too keep it dyed to cover my grays :( So great tips! It is so interesting to see all your different hair styles/colors. I enjoyed reading this post!

      • Phyrra

        Thanks Peach! I really appreciate the feedback :)

    • http://www.betteroffredhead.blogspot.com Untypically Jia

      Awesome tips. I’ve heard of most of these, but never in one spot before so as long as you don’t mind, I’m sharing and pinning this post!

    • Sarsie

      I do some of the things you mention, like washing my hair less often with non-sulfate products. I’ve done my own color at various points in my life, but since I’ve lived in my current city and found my all-time favorite hairstylist, I’ve had it done by her (going on about 12 years now). My hair is a combination of regular haircolor with streaks of Manic Panic color. For me, the best thing I’ve done for taking care of my colored hair is to switch to the “Curly Girl” method, which I did to finally make my curly hair behave and look consistently good, but it had the unintended benefit of also working really well with my colored hair.

      There are a couple of versions of this method, but you can either wash your hair with only water (water washing or no-pooing), a sulfate- & silicone-free conditioner (co-washing), or with a sulfate- & silicone-free shampoo (low-pooing). You then condition with a sulfate- & silicone-free conditioner and use a sulfate- & silicone-free leave-in. The final step is to use a silicone-free product while the hair is still really wet (most of us with curly hair use gel or some other type of product that will keep the curls in place until they dry, and then we SOTC — scrunch out the crunch). Not using regular towels is encouraged (instead use things like an old tshirt or flour sack towels or other towels without the terry loops), and most CGers plop (there are videos!) with the towels for at least a few minutes. We try to air dry as much as possible, but diffusing for at least part of the drying time is ok, too. And also important — never brush hair and only comb with fingers or a wide-tooth comb in the shower when hair is coated with conditioner (so dry shampoos would never work for me).

      Following this method (for nearly 3 years now!) has made my curls absolutely amazing, I consistently get 3- or 4-day hair, and my hair is so much healthier. The best part is that my color hardly fades at all — even the Manic Panic. I can go for at least 4 months and the color is still vibrant — a bit faded, yes, but not much. I really and truly believe that not using sulfates and minimizing the number of times I wash my hair definitely makes a difference with making my color last.

      Sorry this was so long! :)

      • Phyrra

        Thank you so much for sharing this! Do you mind if I add a section to this and label it Curly Hair?

        • Sarsie

          Not at all! I’m glad you think it could be useful. Looking back over my comment above, I left out a couple of things:

          1) Lorraine Massey, owner of DevaChan salon and the Deva products is the one who originally came up with the Curly Girl name. She has written a book (the second edition came out earlier this year) called Curly Girl that you can buy on Amazon & it outlines the method as well.

          2) That being said, there are so many modifications to it, and everyone just has to figure out what works best for them and their hair. For example. I’ve learned my hair absolutely hates products with protein but loves products with aloe vera. There is definitely a transition phase if you were previously a daily hair washer (I wasn’t, so I noticed instant effects the day I started), but hang in there. It gets better. If you google “curly girl”, you will find a number of various online resources!

          3) I personally co-wash, and it probably wasn’t clear that you don’t have to have 3 separate conditioners for each step (washing, conditioning, and leave-in). I use one for washing and another one for conditioning and leave-in.

          And most importantly, I forgot to tell you I really enjoyed your post! I love seeing all the styles and colors you’ve had — so cool. :)

          • Phyrra

            Thank you! I’ve got you both properly credited :)

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    • http://www.bettygirlmakeup.blogspot.com Betty Girl Makeup

      i usually get my Batiste at Target, CVS or Walgreens. it’s available at your local drug store if you can’t find it at Sally’s, but it’s definitely not being discontinued!

      blonde is definitely your color! it compliments your skintone and your eyes incredibly well.

      • Phyrra

        Thanks for the tip. I’ve only been able to find it at Sally’s. I’ve never seen it at Walgreens, CVS or Target, but it may be a regional thing.

        • Taryn

          Do you have an Ulta nearby, Phyrra? I have gotten it there. I agree – Batiste is the best out there. Great post, BTW!

          • Phyrra

            Yep! I’ll check my Sally’s tomorrow though. If not there, I’ll check Ulta. Thanks Taryn!

        • http://www.bettygirlmakeup.blogspot.com Betty Girl Makeup

          oh yeah, i didn’t even think of that! have you tried online (like drugstore.com) if you can’t find it at Sally’s?

    • http://makeupmama-michelle.blogspot.com Michelle

      I’m going to be coloring my hair with Stargazer’s Royal Blue, and I was wondering what bleach I should use first. I was particularly interested in one that I could pick up at Target or Wal-Mart.

      • Phyrra

        I don’t know of any bleaches available at Target or Walmart. I only know of ones available at Sally’s. You might be able to pick up something from amazon.com. A lot of people have recommended Manic Panic’s flashkit to me.

        • http://makeupmama-michelle.blogspot.com Michelle

          What do you prefer to use personally?

          • Phyrra

            I linked the one that I’m using above, but usually one that I can get at Sally’s and the Ion Sensitive Scalp developer.

    • http://www.moxiereviews.com Moxie

      I love the post! You know, there isn’t a photo of you with a color that I don’t like–they all look great on you–my favorites are the ones with purple, though! Thank you so much for all this great information! x

      • Phyrra

        Aww thank you so much Moxie!

    • Melissa

      I didn’t see it at my local target but I will continue the search! Thanks

    • Erin

      Thank you for the tips I wilk definitely use them…i already have my sulfate free shampoo & conditioner.. And a jar of manic panic vampire red:) thank you again for answering all my questions on twitter today:) really appreciate it

      • Phyrra

        No problem! You can always send me an email, too :)

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    • http://collegemakeupbudget.blogspot.com/ Beauty on a College Budget

      I don’t really dye my hair any crazy colors, it’s just blonde bangs, red for the rest, but I know that basties is seriously the best dry shampoo ever, I usually wash my hair 3 times a week, and I actually don’t use a regular conditioner. I actually use a hair masks instead in the shower, and I rotate which ones I use.

      • Phyrra

        That sounds nice!

    • http://www.fingerspolishmania.com Fingers

      OMG!!!! I am loving all the different colors you have here! I used to be the same way but now I am in a “respectable jobs” and cant’ anymore. I just got busted for hiding hot pink stripes in my red hair-similar to your red hair pictured here with the purple hint. That is the red I have had for at least 20+ years now. Red is the one that fades the fastest. I wash my hair every other day-but really am going to try that batiste dry shampoo-I really need to try that. At the moment, I can’t remember the hair products I use but they are sulfate free and have hair oil serum in them to protect from heat styling. They are really nice products. Just wanted to stop by and tell you how awesome your hair colors are!!!!!

      • Phyrra

        I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about that. I worried about that for 6 months and got tired of it, so left. I love my fun.
        Doh! So sorry about you getting busted.

    • http://beautyjones.blogspot.com Margaret McGlynn

      This is such a helpful post! I will be trying lots of your recommended products, because my hair is just fried these days.

      And it’s truly inspiring to see so many of your bold & beautiful looks!

      • Phyrra

        Yay I’m happy to inspire, Margaret!

    • http://enchantednailsandfluffydogtails.blogspot.com/ Mal

      I tried Batiste dry shampoo after reading this and it’s awesome! My Sallys doesn’t carry it but I found it at Ulta for $6.99.

    • AinsleyMac

      Great post! Always great to get tips from another hair chameleon!
       
      My tips are:
      If you bleach or use perm dyes, do a pre wash coconut oil treatment at least once per week
      If you are dying hair in bathroom – cover your toilet with an old towel!