Red might be the boldest and most vibrant shade that ever sprouted naturally from anybody’s head, but it’s also elusive. Getting the perfect red (using non-toxic dyes, naturally) can be a difficult prospect, and keeping it is even harder, as it tends to fade quickly.
To preserve dyed red hair as long as possible, wait 24-48 hours after coloring to shampoo, and then use the four-pronged approach below, involving gentle cleansers, color-depositing products, protective styling serums, and oil-absorbing hair powders for those in-between-washing days.
Color-Preserving Hair Products
The cleansing agents in many shampoos, especially those made to clarify or volumize, can be way too harsh on color-treated hair, causing that coveted red hue to fade faster than it should. Products that are specifically formulated for dyed hair are typically gentler, and often contain extra ingredients that can help protect hair from the damaging effects of sun, chlorine and heat-styling. If you need extra moisturizing power, check out Lavera’s Mango Milk Shampoo for Color Treated Hair, which contains organic cocoa and shea butter for lusher locks. Aveda’s Color Conserve line prevents fading and keeps hair soft without being too heavy, while Alterna’s Bamboo UV + Color Protection Vibrant Color Shampoo might work better for oilier scalps. All are free of harsh sulfates and sodium chloride, as well as parabens, synthetic dyes and phthalates.
Oil-Absorbing Hair Powders
It’s best not to shampoo your hair too often if you want to preserve your color for as long as possible between dye jobs, but if you need a little help to keep your hair from looking a little limp, there’s a product that will seriously change your life: hair powder. Lulu Organics offers all-organic, talc-free hair powder that absorbs oil and imparts a heavenly fragrance. It’s available in lavender + clary sage, jasmine, patchouli + amber and vetiver + black pepper. Another organic, all natural hair powder from Sisters of the Black Moon manages oil with arrowroot powder and kaolin clay.
Use a protective product when heat-styling to prevent the kind of damage that can make dyed red hair weaker and more porous, which leads to uneven color retention. Josie Maran’s Argan Oil Hair Serum reduces frizz, boosts shine and helps seal the hair cuticle. PHYTO’s Phytomist Color Protect Radiance Mist is a lightweight leave-in conditioner that detangles, and also prevents color from fading by protecting hair against oxidation.
Red-Enhancing Shampoo, Conditioner & More
Color-enhancing products for red hair can definitely help keep your hair from fading, but should be used sparingly to prevent over-saturating your hair with color or significantly changing the shade you prefer. Aveda’s Madder Root Shampoo & Conditioner contain a vivid red pigment that brightens red tones; the effect is subtle in the shampoo, but the conditioner is so powerful as to almost be a dye in itself, and it will tint blonde or gingery highlights pink. Test it out on a small section of your hair first, or dilute it with regular conditioner to reduce the color depositing effects. Another brand, Shikai Color Reflect in Warm, contains just a little bit of henna for a subtler result.
Want to go totally natural? Try tinting your hair temporarily with a spray made from red hibiscus petals. This works on natural red hair as well as colored hair, adding warm red tones, and it’s easy to make. Andrea Drugay offers the simple instructions to make it yourself.
Related on Ecosalon:
Be a Redhead Bombshell: Safer Natural Red Hair Color from Box to Henna
A Brush with Ecofriendly Hair Color
Photo: Stefanie Neves