Hair color Styles

Why Does Hair Color Fade?

Have you ever said, “my hair color doesn’t last very long?” If so, this Hair Hotline post is for you.

What makes hair color fade? There are a few factors that need to be looked at when determining why hair color is fading.

The Environment & How It Causes Hair Color Fade

Color Application

  • Color application is critical to the longevity of hair color. When hair color has not been given enough time to penetrate the hair shaft, color molecules are not as tightly bound in the cortex, allowing them to be washed away when shampooing.
  • Most fading appears after the first two washes. This may indicate that the color molecules settled on the outside of the hair shaft and had not penetrated deeply enough to be retained through washes. This could be from a poor application, the developer’s effectiveness, or insufficient time to develop the color.
  • If the hair’s pH is not brought back to its natural state after coloring, it takes approximately 48 – 72 hours for the hair shaft’s outer layers to close, minimizing any fading. It’s a good idea to wait to shampoo hair for two days after coloring. If you need to shampoo, use a cooler water temperature. Cooler water will minimize fading.

Damaged Hair

  • Research shows that water is a critical factor in hair color fading.
  • Many times fading due to water exposure is related to a damaged cuticle. When the hair is overly compromised, water can more easily enter the inner layers, and some of the color molecules can be washed away.
  • The hair’s outer cuticle layer is the primary protectant of the inner cortex, where most color molecules are housed. Suppose friction or excessive chemical treatments damage the cuticle and strip away the hair’s protective layer and expose the cortex. Color molecules will escape during shampooing.
  • Protect the cuticle with shampoos and conditioners containing special protective ingredients to minimize any further damage to the outer layers of the hair.

The Color

  • Some shades fade more quickly than others. Red shades tend to fade the fastest because they have a small molecule size, diffusing from the hair and washing away more rapidly than other shades.
  • UV exposure also breaks down the red tone more quickly, while pure browns and blacks resist fading because their color molecules tend to be larger. Blonde shades have lesser color, so fading is less of a concern.

The Sun & Hair Color Fade

  • Sunlight is known to fade color in many substrates such as wood, cloth, and paint. The color of your hair is no different. UV radiation penetrates the hair and breaks down color molecules. This is why people develop highlights after spending long periods in the sun. Just like in your moisturizers or sunscreens, UV protectants are added to some shampoos, conditioners, and styling products to help prevent hair color fade due to sunlight. Wearing a hat is the best protection against UV damage.
  • Damage to the outer cuticle can diminish hair’s ability to reflect light, making it appear dull. When developing colors, hair dye chemists seek to mimic hair’s natural shine by creating dye mixtures that penetrate the cuticle to maintain color intensity over time, without fading or washing out, but that also helps keep the overall health of hair for maximum shine.
  • The use of professional shampoos, conditioners, and finishing products with lower pH levels and UV protectants will enhance shiny hair and protect against fading caused by sunlight.

My Recommendations

Understanding that the environment, application process, health of your hair, desired color, and sunlight can all play a factor in your hair color’s fading will help you keep your color in your hair and not down the drain.

I hope to see you at my Monrovia Salon soon!!!

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