Washing, conditioning colored hair
October 8, 2014 11:17 AM   Subscribe

I have looked, on MeFi and elsewhere, and I still haven't found a shampoo or conditioner that will cleanse without stripping right down to the grey. More after the break.

I'm younger than my husband, by several years, but I look older because the grey won't go away.

Suggestions from hairdressers are to go to a lighter, more blonde look. I'm not totally opposed to that but would like to keep my hair color the same for now (medium brown).

Also, I only have grey in certain areas--not all over--so I'd rather not do something drastic (going blonde) just yet.

My question is for those who have colored hair. What shampoo and conditioner is least likely to strip the color? I've tried expensive and cheap. I just want to know what will clean hair without pulling color.

If it helps, I'm not shampooing too frequently. In fact, I have a fairly dry scalp (always have) and don't need to wash frequently, but I do need to wash! (If once or twice a week sounds gross, I tell you, I do that to smell fresh, and not because my hair is ever oily--it simply doesn't get greasy looking.) I'd like to wash more often, just so it smells fresh--and yes, I've used conditioner for this--but I'd love recommendations from anyone in the same boat.

Please note that I am not ready to embrace the grey. If/when it is all over my head, then yes, but for now it would be a very odd streak, and I'm looking for suggestions to keep the color in, not to go au natural with what I have. Also, as previously stated, I'm not ready to go blonde. I'm looking for shampoos/conditioners that are gentle. (I've tried some specified for colored hair--usually promising to infuse said hair color--but really, I just want something gentile enough to not mess with the color.)
posted by whoiam to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (30 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Pureology is the best line I've found for this, but even still, using any shampoo is going to strip the color out over time. Personally, I have given up shampooing completely in favor of scrubbing my scalp with conditioner to keep color from fading.
posted by joan_holloway at 11:22 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Are you using sulfate free, color safe shampoos?
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:23 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Loreal EverCreme intense nourishing shampoo and conditioner is what I use on my color-treated, more than 50% grey if I don't, hair.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 11:26 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

How often are you coloring your hair?

I like Alterna Caviar shampoos and conditioners - my color seems to fade more slowly when I use it.
posted by bedhead at 11:27 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I color my hair and I love, love, love Aveeno Pure Renewal. Sulfate free, smells nice, feels gentle, and does not overstrip.
posted by mochapickle at 11:37 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I use the Shea Moisture line. It is 100% better than any expensive shampoo I've ever used on my very dry colored hair. The conditioner is pretty heavy and may or may not work for you.

Also try a different salon. professional color should stick better.
posted by fshgrl at 11:40 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

I like L'Oreal Feria as a conditioner. Although I've let my gray grow out, I still use it. I think it used to be packaged with the Feria hair color; it really kept my hair from feeling like straw while I was still coloring it. (BTW, it's much cheaper at brick & mortar Sally Beauty Supply.)
posted by biddeford at 11:41 AM on October 8, 2014

Best answer: There aren't all that many people whose opinions I wholly trust on cosmetics, but Paula Begoun is one of them. According to her, special products for color are mostly a marketing ploy, and plain old water, heat, and sun, not shampoos and conditioners, are what's fading your color. She does have some tips on making the color last longer; check 'em out here.
posted by holborne at 11:41 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

I don't have experience with this so this is just a guess, but I wonder if dry shampoo might be a better option.
posted by three_red_balloons at 11:43 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

My dry scalp and color-fading problems were both solved by using the Kirkland Moisture Shampoo from Costco. (The internet seems convinced that it's a dupe of a Pureology shampoo). I too have medium brown hair and a gray streak.
posted by purpleclover at 11:46 AM on October 8, 2014

What kind of dye are you using? Greys can be very hard to color, but you might have better luck with a different kind of dye. If I don't have my color done professionally, i.e. with professional-grade permanent products, it fades really badly.

Qualifications: they're all over my head and have been for the past ten years.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:50 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

As someone that went grey at 18 & is now 46. Make sure you are using a good permanent dye for greys, anything but a permanent will wash out. You may want to check with your salon if the colours are washing out that fast. Permanents designed for grey hair tend to fade slightly then grow out more than wash out, because the rest of your hair isn't grey your colourist may not be using a permanent colour.

Avoid shampooing as much as possible is the solution that worked best for me until I hit the permanent colours. I only wash once or twice a week depending on what i'm up to. When I had bright red hair I used a tinted shampoo to help keep the colour bright so that might work for you. I don't know US brands but something like the Revlon Nutri Color Cremes might help.

While it's not a shampoo I've found the Clairol Root touch & the Loreal version up a godsend at extending the time between full on colourings.
posted by wwax at 12:23 PM on October 8, 2014

Best answer: I dyed my hair at home about six months ago using Revlon Colorsilk and kept the dye on a half hour too long during a conference call, and ever since then there's one patch that's much too dark. Nothing has been able to wash that off, not even dish soap. So I'd like to know what shampoo it is that you use that washes off your colour. Or conversely, I recommend you try this Revlon stuff to colour your hair.
posted by Dragonness at 12:29 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

My hair is bleached and dyed as permanent blue as there is on the market. I only wash it about once a week, sometimes less. When I do, I wash & condition, don't rinse the conditioner, put a shower cap on, take the rest of my shower, then rinse the conditioner. Does a lot to cut down on color loss.

I'm currently having great luck with the cheap end using the L'Oreal EverPure Moisture shampoo and conditioner. Yes, the suds run blue, but my hair dries and it's just as vivid as it was before I washed it.

The biggest factor to keeping the color in is the dye used. For some time I had permanent traditional black streaks in, (apparently to "pop" the blue, which was a load of BS imo) and not only did that stuff never fade, it also never ran or stained anything. (No clue what it was, just that my stylist did it.) All the other dyes I've used, at home or via a salon, including the highly recommended (and AWFUL for me) Elumen system, have faded immediately upon two or three washes, no go, especially on my scattered streaks of grey. The stuff that works for me is Pravana.

It's really less about the cleaning products you use and more about the dye in the first place. Some people have hair chemistry that makes it so nothing ever quite sticks the way they want it to stick. But everything will make color fall out at least a little bit. Don't get it wet too often. Look into dry shampoo options (in my experience it still causes color to fall out but it's easier to apply precisely). Wear a shower cap as much as you can stand in the shower. Don't expose your hair to too much sunlight (that's one of the biggest killers of my current color.) Check that your styling products aren't lifting color. It's kind of a pain, really.

Since you seem more concerned about scent than about actual clean, look into things like hair wraps and scarves for times when you're around smelly things to protect your hair from trapping smells. You might also like a few drops of a favorite essential oil worked in with a comb, or a spritz of favorite cologne, to be the scent boost you want that will work with your body's chemistry better than stripping out all the oils like shampoo does.
posted by Mizu at 12:30 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

When I started to go grey, I had the hairdresser add highlights so the grey wasn't as noticeable. My colourist was pretty good at selecting the greys for highlighting. That might be an idea if it is just a bit of grey.

Currently I use L'oreal Preference colour, a couple of shades lighter than my natural colour and Garnier Fructis Colour Shield shampoo and conditioner. The colour kit comes with a weekly conditioner, too. I colour every other month, following the instructions for touch ups.
posted by TORunner at 12:35 PM on October 8, 2014

Another vote for Pureology. I have highlights and lowlights (tint) in my hair and have been using Pureology for a few years with no fading of color, etc.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 12:37 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am naturally over 50% grey with Brown/Auburn hair

Certainly only use salon colouring - I used to use at home colour and now that I go to a salon the length of time tha tthe coverage lasts is incredible. When I did it at home the colour would start to "wear off" - with salon colouring I only see grey with regrowth.

Also use Sulfate free shampoos and conditioners - Pureology is my favorite. I shampoo and condition almost every day and using them makes a big difference.

Try lighter highlights - they will help blend your grey when it does start to grow back in and you won't need to go light all over.

Also do try the dry shampoos - there are so many out there some may be better then others. But they should help with the fresh smell.
posted by MrsMGH at 12:42 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, I don't have colored hair, but I do have very delicate hair, and my recommendation is apple cider vinegar. It is acidic but very gentle, and makes you smell slightly apply in a nicer way than any chemicals do.
posted by epanalepsis at 1:20 PM on October 8, 2014

Best answer: I also use Pureology to wash my medium brown + grey hair that I dye darkish brown and my colour grows out rather than washes out. I wash and condition daily too. I mainly use the purple one (Hydrate), the conditioner is a lovely fresh mint scent and it's not greasy or heavy.
posted by shelleycat at 1:49 PM on October 8, 2014

Best answer: I dyed my hair at home about six months ago using Revlon Colorsilk and kept the dye on a half hour too long during a conference call, and ever since then there's one patch that's much too dark. Nothing has been able to wash that off, not even dish soap. So I'd like to know what shampoo it is that you use that washes off your colour. Or conversely, I recommend you try this Revlon stuff to colour your hair.

Color Oops is the GILL! It will take out all color from your hair. I used it to take out all the red after it faded to pink (I too have much gray.) Although you have to rinse your hair for 20 full minutes to get out all the old pigment. I had Husbunny read to me while I did it. But when I was done, I could see just how much of my hair had gone gray. Shocking!

I will say that it is harder for gray hair to hold on to darker colors. After I did the Color Oops, they suggested that I go a color one step lighter than usual. So I use a 7 - Dark Blond and I really like the brown my hair is.

I use the L'Oreal Sulfate Free shampoo, smells yummy, doesn't strip color.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:39 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Co-washing (washing with just conditioner, not shampoo) is allegedly good for this.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 2:53 PM on October 8, 2014

I used to maintain very unnatural bright orange hair with cleansing conditioner, Wen. I still use it to keep my hair super healthy and not dried out. You can buy it at Sephora now.
posted by sweltering at 3:43 PM on October 8, 2014

I use the Shea Moisture line. It is 100% better than any expensive shampoo I've ever used on my very dry colored hair. The conditioner is pretty heavy and may or may not work for you.

Seconding SheaMoisture! I have fine hair that used to be color treated and their yucca and baobab volumizing shampoo is the best shampoo I have ever used in my life: gentle, doesn't strip anything including color, can shampoo every day without my hair getting all brittle and turning my scalp into an oil factory, and it actually moisturizes and volumizes at the same time (which is basically indistinguishable from magic).

I use their moisturizing conditioner with the volumizing shampoo and my hair loves it, but I agree that the conditioner is heavy and if I lived in a less dry place I would use the lighter volumizing conditioner that goes with the yucca & baobab shampoo, which is still pretty moisturizing.

I just can't say enough good things about their products - they've been a total revelation for me and my hair.
posted by dialetheia at 4:20 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've used Minardi shampoo and conditioner and noticed less stripping of color than with any other shampoo/conditioner combo. Next best was Wella shampoo/conditioner. But lately I've been using DevaCurl No Poo, even though I don't really have curly hair. It's a sulfate- and silicone-free cleansing conditioner and it's done great things for my hair (which has become drier and coarser as it gets grayer) as well as had almost no effect on my color.
posted by devinemissk at 4:24 PM on October 8, 2014

I'm unsure from reading your post if you've experienced this problem or if it's just something that you are concerned about happening in the future. With that in mind, before getting to suggestions I will add that I have--or rather had--naturally dark brown hair and started going gray quite young. I have been dyeing my hair regularly for at least 20 years and have never experienced shampoo striping the color from my hair--regardless of the type/brand at least not to the point that it was noticeable. I've used home coloring kits, had it colored at a salon and used salon (professional) color at home. I have heard that this is a big issue for people dyeing their hair red though. Anyway, for me the bigger issue is finding a shampoo that wouldn't dry out my hair.

That being said, I would recommend a sulfate free shampoo. Lately, I've switched to products containing more natural ingredients. I like many of John Masters shampoos, particularly, the now too expensive for me honey & hibiscus. Acure has relatively inexpensive natural products, including sulfate free shampoos and conditioners , that I use and like (although I'm not absolutely wowed by them). Frankly, depending on how much you're out and how sunny it is where you live, the sun will play a larger role in your hair color fading. I believe they make conditioners or leave-in treatments which offer some degree of SPF protection.
posted by kaybdc at 4:40 PM on October 8, 2014

Ugh, missed the edit window. My response presumes permanent hair dye.

And since I've got the response window open, with regard to what your hairdresser says, I've heard that before, although no one has ever said it to me (probably because I have med. olive skin and would look ridiculous as a blond). I think that the main problem is less that people look bad with dark hair after x age, and more that single color (meaning coloring your hair one color without highlights or lowlights) dyed hair often looks flat. This seems to be more noticeable the darker you dye your hair and it can look harsh. Harsh generally isn't a good look as one gets older. That being said, I think that sticking with medium brown, should be absolutely fine. I really only notice it with black/black brown dye.
posted by kaybdc at 5:15 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I used to use the L'oreal sulfate free ever-something line, and it was okay, but I switched over to SheaMoisture about 6 months, and I really love it.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:52 PM on October 8, 2014

My hair has been a rotating rainbow of pravana vivids colors for the last 16 months, evidenced by green, pink, purple. I was graying and almost 30 and decided Now! is the Time if I want to do ridiculous colors; but I was scared and didn't bleach for a few rounds. I bleach now and am much better at not crying at the hair salon.

I use davines products, shampoo & conditioner (and styling but I can't imagine that matters too much in ColorFastness), whatever my stylist recommends, shampooing at most twice a week (sometimes less), and conditioner is usually the davines-alchemic line. I switched from the silver to the red when my last pot ran out. I also refresh with a tube of pravana -- I don't know if this would work as well with natural colors, but when I start getting bored with my current color, I have a tube of green and a tube of purple and one of those gets slapped on top of my head for 20min, diluted with conditioner sometimes but not always, and that tides me over until the next coloring session (about every 6-8 weeks is the goal, but recent travel and scheduling difficulties have stretched that to 3 months at times). I still get vibrant tones that aren't flat, since there's a base of coloring beneath the top-slapped color, and also I don't ever have a specific look I'm going for, so I'm open to all sorts of things and don't mind if I end up greener or purpler than I was before the refresh.
posted by worstname at 10:06 PM on October 8, 2014

KMS Color Vitality. Gentle on color and is the best-smelling shampoo I have ever used. EVAR!
posted by biscotti at 5:20 PM on October 9, 2014

Response by poster: Ack! So many good answers here, I'm having trouble marking them. I've gone the no-poo and low-poo routes, and currently only wash about 1x/wk. My ex-hairdresser became a bit too popular and left me in the hands of technicians who left color on too long and burned my scalp, so I've been using L'oreal products at home instead. With both approaches, the color washed out before it grew out, so I'm making a list of all these recommendations. Thanks so much! (And if I try your recommendation and like it, I WILL be back to mark more best answers! Thanks again.)
posted by whoiam at 5:19 AM on October 10, 2014

« Older Waking up with a runny nose every morning - why...   |   Do you have a dock that turns your android phone... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.