Why Your Hair Color is Fading

Why Your Hair Color is Fading

Matrix's Biolage line is sulfate-free, great for keeping color vibrant.

Ashley Evert, Assistant Managing Editor

One of the worst feelings out there is spending your already minimal paycheck on an expensive session with your stylist to get your hair colored, only for it to fade in two weeks.

While some people may combat this problem by coloring their hair more frequently with cheaper boxed color, I am here to give you actual facts as to why that is a terrible thing to do and offer alternatives.

Repeat after me: boxed color is bad. It may seem cheaper and easier at first, but half of the time you don’t get the color you wanted and it could really damage your hair with continued use. Why is that?

Hair color, boxed or professional, has two parts: the color and the developer.  The developer can range from 10 volume to 40 volume, which is basically the strength of the peroxide in the developer.

People who just want a light tone change can use a low 10 volume, but people who need a lot of “lift” to bleach their hair to a platinum blonde would use a 40 volume developer.

Professional color is mixed by a stylist who has extensive knowledge of how the developer will work with the color choice as well as the condition of the client’s hair.  It takes a long time for stylists to learn all there is to know about hair color.

Boxed color, however, does not label the developer. That means that there is no control over how strong or weak the developer is, which is why your color may not look the same as the girl on the box.

Besides getting an unwanted result with boxed color, it could damage your hair more than necessary. You hair has a “cuticle”, which is made of scales to protect the inside of the hair.  Think of the cuticle like overlapping shingles on a roof.

Developer causes those shingles to lift up and let those color pigments penetrate the hair shaft.  Using a high volume developer over and over again causes those shingles on your cuticle to lift and makes your hair look frizzy and feel like straw.

The biggest problem with boxed color is the lack of control over the developer strength.  So please, invest in a stylist for his or her knowledge about hair color theory.  I promise it will be well worth the result.

Okay, so you have the perfect hair color, but it’s fading faster than you think it should. What do you do?

The first thing you should do is check if your shampoo is sulfate-free. If it isn’t, trash it and pick up one without sulfates.

Sulfates are the detergents in shampoo that cause it to lather, but also strip your color so much faster than shampoo without them. Trust me, when I made the switch, my red hair lasted twice as long between appointments!

The second part to the cleaning process is to avoid scalding hot water – at least on your hair. Take your hot shower, then when you wash your hair, turn the temperature down to lukewarm or cool if you can stand it. Hot water raises that cuticle, whereas cool water seals it and makes it smooth, causing less color loss and more shine.

The sun will also cause color to fade, so try a UV protectant spray, like this one by Paul Mitchell or cover your tresses with a floppy straw hat on particularly sunny days.

The last thing you can do is opt to wash your hair less all together. Try dry shampoo on day two and wear your hair in a pony tail or under a cute knit hat on the third day. Getting more time out of your wash will cause your color to fade less.

I hope I was able to shed light on why stylists everywhere cringe at the thought of boxed hair color and how you can save your investment on gorgeous color longer. Good luck!

Any questions? E-mail me! [email protected]