Can I ‘wash out’ my hair colour?

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Keep things looking bright

As colourists, we’re often asked if washing our hair causes our colour to fade. The answer to this is yes, washing your hair does affect your colour but before you throw away your shampoo, there are plenty of other factors to consider.

To start with, hair colour is affected by pretty much everything. Things like water, free radicals, wind, sun, cleansing and styling will all have an impact. You may have always thought it was the washing process that causes the colour fade but other parts of your haircare routine can also contribute. For example, styling with intense heat can often pull more colour out than the washing process.

The colour-fade culprits

There are many different factors that will affect how quickly your shade will fade, such as:

1. If you’re blonde and have a toner applied, you may find that your colour is more susceptible to change because toning is a surface colour process. This means the colour is only deposited in the first few layers of the cuticle so it will always wash out faster. If you are unsure about what toning actually is, then you might want to read this.

2. Hair that is porous (which means it’s damaged from over-processing) will also lose its colour faster. That’s why it’s important to get your locks in the best condition before you have any colour applied.

3. The pH balance of your shampoo can also affect colour fade. On the whole, most good quality shampoos are acidic. This might sound scary but it’s a good thing as this will help to close the cuticle and seal the colour in for longer. If you are currently using a shampoo that leaves your hair feeling slightly rough then it’s possible that your shampoo isn’t acidic enough which means it could be causing more colour fade than necessary.

Choosing the right shampoo

All shampoos have cleansing agents in them to remove dirt and sebum from the scalp but some of these can take colour out too. The most common cleansing agent in shampoo is sulphates, some of these are less colour-stripping than others depending on the amount of sulphates that are in it.

You can buy zero-sulphate shampoos (like the Pureology range) and these can really help to keep colour looking it’s best. If you are really light blonde or very intense red I would highly recommend using products from the Pureology range. Our team have noticed that colour is better retained when using these.

If you want to find out if a shampoo is sulphate-free, check the ingredients list on the back of the bottle and avoid any of the following:

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
Ammonium Laureth Sulphate
Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate
Sodium Laureth Sulphate
TEA-Lauryl Sulphate
Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate
Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate
Sodium Stearate

Keep on caring

Remember that properly conditioning and caring for your hair is vital to keep colour looking great. This means having regular treatments, properly conditioning and detangling whenever you wash it and using bond rebuilders (like L’Oréal Professionnel Smartbond) in the colour. While we’re on that subject, if you want to find out more about bond rebuilders and what they can do for your hair, you might want to read this.

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