How to Make Hair Color Last Longer

Help protect your highlights, balayage, and touch-ups with these expert tips.

Great hair color takes time and an investment. Making brilliant highlights, lowlights, glaze, or balayage last longer is the best way to be kind to your budget and your calendar. Here, Hairfolk stylists share their best tips for keeping the lush shades you want.

Wait to wash

You can extend your color life by stretching your post-service blowout as long as possible; 24 hours is good, but 48 hours is better. As a general rule, the less you wash your hair, the longer your color will last, but the first day or two after a service is an important time, as the strands absorb color, toner, or gloss.  

If you need to wash your hair, try a cold-water rinse instead, skipping the shampoo altogether. Rinse your hair and scrub your scalp, mimicking your typical shampoo routine. Just don’t use any product.

Limit hot tool use

Hair dryers, straighteners, and hot combs are all handy for styling, but they damage your hair and fade your color. In the critical first week after your color service, try to avoid hot tools if at all possible.

If you need to heat style your hair, use a thermal protectant product on your locks first. We recommend Oribe’s Balm d’Or. The lightweight oil product and heat-activated polymers boost the integrity of your color and protect against color fade. 

For regular blowouts, use a lightweight mist product that can help soothe your strands and strengthen hair while defending against color fade. Oribe’s Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray is a great option.

Shelter your hair from the sun

The sun’s UV rays do more than darken your skin; they fade your hair. If you’ll be spending the day outside, do your color a favor and shield it with a hat.

If you’ll be in the pool or ocean, too, you need to take your hair protection a step further. Comb an SPF conditioner through your locks before you head outside. Not only can these products prevent fade, they may help protect your delicate scalp from a sunburn, too.

Skip hot showers

A hot shower feels great after long days, but the high-temp water can dry out your hair, fade your color, and shorten the time between services. The hot water opens the cuticles in each hair strand. Rinsing removes oil and color.

To help protect your color, first rinse your hair with warm water. Shampoo with room-temperature water. Wring out as much water as you can, then apply conditioner. Follow the instructions on the conditioner bottle, letting the conditioner’s moisturizers work on sealing your cuticle and hydrating your strands. Lastly, turn the water to the coldest temp you can stand, and rinse the conditioner.

Use color-safe products

Many supermarket shampoos and conditioners contain salts, sulfates, and detergents that strip color and leave color brassy and dull. Invest in good hair care products the way you invest in your cuts and color sessions.

All Oribe products are color-safe, and the majority are sulfate-free. The sulfates in some of the shampoos are ultra-mild and derived from coconut oil.

Wash every other day

Break your daily shampoo habit if you want the longest life from your color. Frequent washing strips color and natural oils from your hair and scalp. If you can stretch out to every other day—Gold Lust Dry Shampoo can help with styling and oil absorption—your color will maintain its brilliance longer.

When you do wash your hair, focus the shampoo on the roots and scalp. Washing your ends may strip color and promote dryness.

Gloss yourself

Glosses are a wonderful way to extend your color, add shine, and help prevent unwanted tones between services. During a gloss service, Hairfolk stylists will match the gloss to your color so you get the best results. At-home gloss treatments may not match your coloring products and can actually damage your hair or change your color.

6 Signs You Have the Right Hair Stylist

If you’ve tried multiple stylists to find the right fit for you, here’s how you’ll know it’s time to stop your search.

You can spend a great deal of time and income trying to find the person you trust implicitly with your hair. After all, your hair is something you wear every day, so cuts, colors, and styling are all an investment.

But before you settle down with another stylist that conjures up only lukewarm feelings, use this checklist to know if the person behind the chair is the person for you.

They listen to you.

Meeting with a new hair stylist is nerve-racking. You’re trusting a person—and possibly some online reviews—to cut, color, and style your hair, a person who’ve never met you until the very moment you sit in their chair. It’s an exercise in implicit trust, and a good stylist will earn that trust every step of the way. If your stylist takes the time to talk with you, look at your photos, ask you questions, and work their way through a series of scenarios to better understand your style and preferences, you’ve found the right stylist for you. 

They explain every service.

Once you and your stylist establish a report, you may not need this from them, but until you reach that stage of your relationship, your stylist should explain everything they’re doing, from mixing the color and cutting in layers, to glossing your hair during a wash and evening out the frame around your face. This way, you know which services you’re getting, you’re at ease during the appointment, and you understand the amount of thought and effort they’re putting into your cut.

You’re excited for your next appointment.

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A working relationship with a great stylist is a bit like a partnership: You feed off one another, enjoy spending time together, and get a lot out of talking, engaging, and creating. Sure, the creation is your hair, but your hair is their craft—sympatico results. If you find yourself looking forward to your next appointment, that means you’ve found a great stylist. 

You always start where you left off.

Stylists do a great deal of work to make sure your visits are seamless. They help you find “that great hairspray” they used. They remember that you like a blanket over your legs on chilly days. A truly great stylist, however, will greet you like an old friend, instantly reconnect to where you left off, and head straight to the color bar so they can mix up your color and get right to work.

They don’t judge.

You are not the first person to sit in their chair in yoga pants sans makeup, and you certainly won’t be the last. A great stylist is there to offer no judgment. They also have no problem if you’re coming off a terrible day and just need to sit in silence and let the world pass by. They’ve been there too. Believe us.

They’re a friend.

You’ll know you’ve found a great stylist when you feel like they’re more than a stylist, that they’ve somehow become your friend. Stylists, as a rule, tend to be social people. They love engaging with others, creating, and helping people feel special. But when your stylist feels like a person you can trust with anything, you’ll know you’ve found the one for both your style and your soul.