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Ever wanted to pick the brains of a beauty editor? Or get beauty product recommendations from someone who’s tried them all? You have come to the right place. In our weekly series, beauty editor Hana Hong answers your biggest skincare, haircare and makeup questions, all submitted by Real Simple readers. Tune in every Tuesday and submit your own burning beauty questions here for a chance to be featured.
Reader Question: I did a permanent hair color professionallytwo months ago, but my hair is already a different color since I left the salon. Why does this happen? —Dara Moynes
In an ideal world, the hair color you walk out to the salon would be the hair color that stays at home. Alas in the real world, hair color fades, which means it oxidizes and changes over time.
You’ve probably heard of oxidation in chemistry class, where clear formulas (or foods) can warp into a brownish hue when exposed to environmental aggressors. The same goes for your hair: on a microscopic level, hair dye molecules can lose electrons, triggering a chemical reaction that turns hair brassy.
Depending on your hair color, the copper hue will appear differently. Blonde hair will appear yellow or orange, while a brunette or dark-haired person may begin to notice that their locks are orange or red. This can happen for many reasons, some of which are unavoidable and completely unavoidable, such as exposure to hard water and UV rays, i.e. just living your life. But don’t worry, you can prevent your color from changing by implementing smart hair care practices, which start with not making the mistakes below.
Hair color mistakes
Using the wrong shampoo and conditioner
You can pay top dollar and have a professional colorist work on your hair, but your efforts can (literally) be wasted every time you use the wrong product in the shower. That’s because a lot of hair care products contain sulfates, which are great for keeping hair smooth, but not so great for maintaining hair color. “Sulfates contain sulfuric acid, which can penetrate hair color and remove color pigments,” says Stephanie Brown, colorist at IGK salon in New York. “To avoid fading, be sure to use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, such as IGK Pay Day Instant Repair Shampoo and Conditioner ($31; ulta.com) and Conditioner ($31; ulta.com) .”
Hot water wash
As wonderful as hot showers are, the cooler the better when it comes to color maintenance. This is because the heat lifts the cuticle, giving the color an easy escape route. However, we know that cold showers are easier said than done – to make the drop in temperature more tolerable, start in lukewarm water, then slowly adjust the meter until cool.
Excessive use of hot tools
Remember what we talked about above: heat = bad. Our hair would be more durable if we avoided all heat styling, but that’s not a reality for most people. Unfortunately, hot tools can hasten the brassiness, so be sure to add a heat protectant before styling. Richy Kandasamy, colorist and member of the R+Co collective, recommends looking for something that includes warmth and UV protection when you leave the house, just like your skin needs SPF to protect it from UV damage, so do your strands.
Sorry, beach bums, chlorine and salt water are both going against you. “They can strip hair of its shine, making it look dull,” says Brown. “Extended time in water also keeps the hair cuticle open longer than usual, helping to wash color molecules out of the hair. Consider putting your hair in a swim cap or avoid getting your hair wet. hair in water. If you must, apply a generous amount of hair oil to help protect the cuticle from water molecules.”
Do not apply toner
From masks and shampoos to lip glosses and conditioning treatments, toning products can eliminate unwanted brassy and red tones and revive your locks. They work like a semi-permanent dye by depositing certain pigments that cancel out the tones you don’t want to see. The best part? You can do it yourself with homemade toners so you don’t end up in the stylist’s chair every two weeks.
An important note: Salon owner, hairstylist, and colorist Jana Rago says toner is like a temporary band-aid because it’s not a permanent fix. To maintain your favorite shade, you’ll need toner every month to six weeks, depending on your hair texture and how often you wash your hair.
And if all else fails, book a color correction appointment with a professional stylist/colorist to give your brassy hue a complete makeover. They will most likely use a stronger toner to hide the warm undertones and help blend the colors.