Keeping your hair color's luster longer

Maintaining Colored Hair

by Tricia Goss

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None of us wants to seem vain. However, maintaining your appearance can help you feel more confident, pulled-together and simply better about yourself. Hair color can conceal grays, boost your hair's vibrancy or perhaps provide you with a much-needed change. However, who wants to spend money on hair color when it only fades out after a few weeks and several washes? The good news is that you can help make your fresh hair color keep its luster longer.

Want even more good news? You do not need to buy any fancy, expensive products to maintain your hair color, either. To get started, clarify your hair one to two days prior to coloring it. You can make homemade clarifying shampoo by merely adding baking soda to your favorite shampoo brand. Just pour the shampoo into the palm of your hand as you typically do and then add one or two tablespoons of baking soda to it. Apply it to wet hair from roots to ends. Let it stand for two to five minutes, rinse thoroughly and repeat. This will strip chlorine, styling products and even pollution from your tresses, preparing an ideal canvas on which to apply hair coloring.

Once you have colored your hair, whether at home or at a salon, wait at least 48 hours before washing it again. This may be trying if you are a daily shampooer, but it is a crucial step to making the hair color fade-resistant. Waiting a couple of days to wash allows the hair dye to penetrate the strands completely, which means it will not lighten or wash out as quickly. When washing your hair, always rinse with cool to tepid water, which will seal your hair's cuticle, which helps lock in the color.

If possible, use shampoo and conditioner made for color-treated hair. Once a week, deep-condition your hair. You can buy a hot oil treatment product or deep conditioning mask at the drugstore, or make your own by combing 1/2 cup of real mayonnaise through your hair. Wrap your head with a warm towel (toss a damp towel in the microwave or dryer for a few minutes) and top it with a plastic grocery bag or plastic wrap. Let it stand for 20 to 30 minutes and then wash out.

Try to avoid chlorine or saltwater, as they both have the propensity to dry out your hair and cause it to look less lustrous. If you plan to go swimming, consider smoothing conditioner through your hair and then putting on a swim cap. This will protect and actually help fortify your hair. Too much sun can be damaging as well. Wear a hat, cap or bandana over your hair if you are going to be soaking up the rays for a while.

Following these guidelines will help you enjoy your lovely locks even longer. In fact, most of them are beneficial for any type of hair, colored or not.

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