From Sarah Michelle Gellar, Dua Lipa, and now Jeanette Aw, celebrities of the like are all taking the jump to try bold and vibrant hair colours. And if you’re thinking of doing the same, keep in mind that half the work is in making sure you’re doing the most to keep your hair colour going strong. Poor maintenance habits will cause the colour to fade faster. To really make your money’s worth and lengthen the lifespan of your new hair colour, follow these simple yet essential tips and tricks by local hairstylists.
Though when it comes to hair, more volume is always a good thing, we’re talking about the size of the colour pigments in your hair dye. According to Readen Chia, associate salon director of Chez Vous, red, violet, magenta and purple hair dyes tend to have bigger colour pigments, which are not as well absorbed by hair. Now you know why these bright colours fade faster than warm browns.
If you still want those bold, bright hues, colour-pigmented treatments can help retain and enhance their vibrancy. Ashley Soh, founder of Blow+Bar recommends purple-pigmented shampoos such as Kevin Murphy Blonde Angel Wash, $40, to remove brassiness from blonde hair, and red-pigment shampoos such as Aveda Madder Root Shampoo, $89, to intensify fiery reds. For weekly or bi-weekly intensive treatments, try Kerastase Reflection Masque Chromatique, $73.80.
The clincher: you can top up this mask with Touches Chromatique, $48.15, four colour-correcting inks in blond, brown, copper, and red to boost your hair colour.
Tap water has mineral sediments, chlorine, and heavy metals that can mess with your hair colour, warns Readen. While we won’t go so far as to recommend showering with bottles of filtered water every day (exorbitant grocery bills!), installing a water filter in the shower may provide an effective long-term solution without breaking the bank. You can get one from StarWellness for $95 – their Anion Shower Filter removes harmful chlorine particles while releasing negative ions.
Bonus tip: never use hot water – it opens cuticles and strips away hair colour. Opt for cold or lukewarm rinses instead.
Shampoo, condition and mask? Nope! Readen suggests turning your hair care ritual on its head. Before you do anything else, condition hair with a colour-depositing conditioner – this will create a barrier that prevents shampoo and water from eroding colour pigments. Then, shampoo your scalp to cleanse away excess sebum and avoid hair ends. Rinse and mask.
You may have invested in the best colour treatments products, but it won’t help if your hair absorbs nothing. Always wring hair dry before applying conditioners and masks for better absorption because when hair cuticles are too wet, hair treatment products cannot penetrate well. Then allow the product to “sit” for three to five minutes before rinsing, says Ashley.
Professional colour-safe hair products are not just marketing gimmicks. According to Ashley, “professional shampoos and conditioners are gentler, and contain less fillers, silicones and sulphates that cause hair colour to fade.” They also have higher concentrations of colour-preserving ingredients. Some easily available professional brands include Shiseido Professional and Redken.
Put your clarifying and deep-cleansing shampoos in cold storage when you’ve coloured your tresses – they will not only lift off styling residue but also wash away all your hair colour pigments, says Ashley. Swimming is also a big No-No. Chlorinated swimming pool water and sodium from seawater will drain hair colour in record time. If you must, keep your head above the water or use a swimming cap.
It’s true – the less you wash your hair, the longer your colour will last. But at sweltering daily temperatures, that just sounds unbearable and frankly, a little disgusting. Readen suggests using dry shampoos instead of regular shampoos every other day to dramatically reduce bleeding. Try HASK Chia Seed Dry Shampoo, $19.90 – this dry shampoo absorbs sebum for a fresh and matte finish.
Dyeing your hair once every two months will dehydrate it, and make it more porous than ever. If your concern is re-growth, simply touch-up roots at a salon, suggests Ashley. If you are DIY-ing this, apply Vaseline along the hairline before colour application to avoid staining your forehead, and use disposable latex gloves and a comb to add colour section by section. Prepare wet wipes in advance to clean up where necessary, she adds.
Whatever you do, some colour fade is inevitable. With a good dye job, it should fade gracefully and still look beautiful in between touch-ups. Readen suggests trying a Colour Melt. As the name suggests, this technique melts colour down the hair shaft to create a soft gradation. So as your hair grows out, your darker roots will blend perfectly with the gradation.
Another bonus: this look is more subtle and office-friendly than the ombre technique, and has a slimming effect on the face.
Text: Annie Tan/Her World Plus, Additional reporting: Farisia Thang
This post was first published on September 19, 2017, and updated on June 19, 2020.