If you have gray hair and have opted to color it, you’re probably wondering why it fades so fast? Does it have something to do with the specific hue you chose? Is it the brand of dye that’s subpar? Are you using an incorrect coloring technique?
Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with any of the reasons above. As it turns out, gray hair is generally more resistant to hair dye. It makes it hard to color your hair effectively and causes the hair dye to fade faster.
That being said, here’s everything you need to know about how to make hair color last longer on gray hair.
What Makes Gray Hair Resistant to Dye
It has everything to do with texture. The hair shaft of gray hair is generally rougher due to the significant reduction of the natural oils contained within. As a result, gray hair tends to reject the color application, especially around the gray roots.
This is why you’re finding it hard to get those pesky grays to cooperate when trying to camouflage them in your favorite hair color.
Stubborn grays tend to be more porous, which then causes the color pigments to leak out of the hair cuticle faster, hence the fading. The good news is – there’s something you can do about it.
How to Make Hair Color Last Longer On Gray Hair
Now that you know the biology behind why gray hair has difficulty holding on to color pigments, here are 5 pro tips from styling experts to make hair color last longer on gray hair.
1. Ditch the Dryer
We’ve already established that gray strands are generally dry and porous. Heat styling products like blow dryers and hair straighteners make hair dry and porous – gray strands or not. Do you see where we’re going with this?
Using heat styling tools on gray hair speeds up the rate at which color pigments leak out of the hair cuticle.
If you want your hair color to last longer and reduce your trips to the hair salon, ditch the dryer and let your hair air out naturally.
2. Hot Water Is a No-No
If you’re one of those people who like to shower in scalding hot water, you might want to reconsider. Again, super-hot water has the same drying effect on your hair, making it harder for your grays to hold on to color pigments (as if that wasn’t hard already).
As scary as it sounds, you’ll need to adapt to using cold water on your mane. It’s a small price to pay for keeping your grays colored for as long as possible.
If that’s too drastic a change, try using lukewarm water to wash your hair instead. On days you are not washing your hair, use a shower cap to keep your hair dry.
3. Space Out Your Washes
While we’re still on the subject, another change you’ll need to make has to do with the frequency of your washes. As a rule of thumb, don’t wash your hair more than twice a week. Space out your washes by at least three days to preserve your hair color. The more frequent your washes are, the faster your hair color fades.
Additionally, don’t wash your dyed hair immediately after you have it colored. Instead, wait at least four days before you shampoo it to give the color ample time to set.
4. Steer Clear of Sulfate-Based Shampoos
If you’re using a shampoo that lathers rather easily, chances are it is chock-full of sulfates. Sulfates are cleansing agents that get rid of product buildup, dead skin cells, and grime from your hair and scalp. Unfortunately, they also target the color pigments in your hair cuticles, causing the dye to fade faster.
Always use sulfate-free shampoos or buy color-protecting cleansers specially formulated for color-treated hair. These work to make hair color last longer on gray hair and add luster, volume, and shine, so it’s a win-win either way you slice it. Always remember to condition after and avoid these gray hair mistakes.
If you can, consider making one of your two weekly washes a co-wash. This means using conditioner in place of shampoo. Color-protecting conditioners will do less damage to your hair color compared to shampoos.
5. Keep Your Hair Out of the Sun
Ultraviolet rays from the sun break down the chemical bonds between color pigments, causing photodegradation. As a result, hair color fades lighter.
To avoid sun-bleaching your colored gray hair, always wear a hat or cap in the sun, or cover your hair with a scarf when venturing outside. This will preserve your hair color.
There you have it – how to make hair color last longer on gray hair. Steer clear of heat, sulfate-based shampoos, and the sun. Remember to minimize the frequency of your washes as well. Less is more.
Do you have any color preservation tips that work for you? We’d love to hear all about them in the comments section below. In the meantime, read about why hard water is bad for your hair.