Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hair Care Tips for Colored Hair

Since I mostly receive emails from people regarding hair colors and hair problems, I am putting all the important tips right here to set some basics right, when it comes to colored hair care.

Before we start, let's see the structure of a hair strand.
The outer frilly layer is called the Cuticle. It protects the hair.
The middle layer is the Cortex. It provides strength to the hair
The innermost layer is Medulla. It also provides strength to the hair

Here I am giving a general explanation. For detailed explanation for each type of chemical hair color, please refer to the article Difference between Permanent, Demi-Permanent, Semi-Permanent and Temporary Hair Colorants.

All chemical hair colors contain PPD (p-phenylenediamine), ammonia and/or resorcinol.

1. When you apply a chemical hair dye/color, the ammonia and/or resorcinol open the cuticles to allow the chemical molecules enter inside the hair.
2. Then a series of reactions take place inside the hair.
3. The PPD reacts with oxygen and gets converted to quinonediimine.
4. Quinonediimine then reacts and couples up with other chemicals in the coloring paste.
5. Finally these coupled molecules again react with oxygen (oxidize) and result in the final color molecule, which is big in size.
6. Being big, the dye/color molecule now cannot escape out of the hair through the open cuticles so these stay inside the hair. Hence the color gets deposited inside the hair shaft (in the middle layer cortex). For temporary, semi and demi-permanent hair colors, the color molecules are partly on the outer layer cuticle and some enter the middle layer Cortex.


1. Do not shampoo your hair for at least 2-3 days before as well as after getting your hair colored. Most saloons tell you to come with freshly washed hair and I have not seen a saloon to date, which does not give a shampoo wash to their clients after hair coloring. BUT this is wrong. Just rinse out the paste till water runs clear and use the conditioner provided with the color/ or your own color protect conditioner.

2. Do NOT ever rinse out the paste with hot water. In winters, you may use slightly warm water. Using hot water may damage and dry your freshly colored hair. Ammonia/ Resorcinol leave the hair cuticles open for the color to enter. Using cool/cold water helps close those cuticles. Your final rinse should always be with cool water.

3. Color treated hair need gentle cleaning. The primary reason for degraded hair quality, hair fall, dry and damaged hair ends and scalp irritation in color-treated hair is chemical overdose. Stop abusing your hair with ordinary shampoos no matter how tall claims they make in TV ads.

If your shampoo has Sodium Laureth Sulphate, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Ammonium Laureth Sulphate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate etc, it is a sulphates based shampoo. Some of these ingredients can also be derived naturally, however, chemically derived ingredients are cheap, so they are used. For a complete watchout list of chemicals, you can refer to THIS article. Sadly these harmful ingredients are present in kids shampoo too.

4. Use a sulphates free shampoo especially meant for colored hair. Color protect shampoos gently clean your hair and prevent your color from washing out soon. Hence your hair color lasts longer and does not lose its brilliance that soon. I personally use Organic Surge Color Protect Shampoo. This shampoo has restored my hair's health and tamed hair fall. It helped me recover from years of chemically damaged hair. 

I have even tried a Shampoo bar from Soulflower recently but though it is mild, it washes out color. There are many small brands claiming to be sulphates free, all natural or organic, but I don't trust their incomplete ingredient list. Most are drying and under-nourishing for colored hair.

SHIELO is a raved brand in the US for colored hair care and I so want to try it, but it is not available in India. TIGI Bedhead also has some good products, but besides the long list of natural ingredients, their color protect shampoo contains sulphates too.

5. If your hair ends are always dry and look like nylon fibers, and if they tangle really bad after hair wash, it is time you switch to a color protect shampoo. Please understand that sulphates free shampoos don't lather much and it takes a few weeks for your hair to adapt to them. Initially you may not like them but after the adaptation period, you will like your healthy hair.

6. From the emails I receive, I am shocked to learn many people shampoo their hair daily and most do thrice a week. Don't over shampoo your hair. I have explained later, why.

7. If you dye your hair with chemical hair colors, do NOT use Henna for conditioning in between. If you do, the lawsone color molecules of the Henna will not let the chemical hair color lock properly inside the hair. Color will wash out soon. And if your color starts washing out, you will color them more often, increasing your exposure to chemicals.


WATER: When your hair get exposed to water while shampooing, during rain or during swimming etc, the hair strands 'swell up' and the cuticles open up by 20%. This allows the dye or color molecules inside your hair to escape out of the hair easily, resulting in color loss and color fading.

CHLORINE: People who swim have additional exposure to Chlorine, which is another enemy of colored hair. Chlorine may cause the color molecules inside your hair to split and become smaller. Smaller molecules and already expanded cuticles will let the color wash out even easier. So your color will be affected badly by both water and chlorine if you don't cover your hair.

SUN EXPOSURE: Exposure to harsh sun rays may again break the bonding in the final color molecule (explained above). So the color molecule may either lose its color or split into smaller molecules which can easily escape out of hair. This will cause both color fading and brilliance loss. 

Never expose colored hair to harsh sun rays directly. Use a head gear: Dupatta/ Bandana/ Cap etc to cover your hair. There are many stylish scarves and beanie caps available in the market easily or else, just learn to get creative with a scarf or bandana to protect your colored hair without compromising on your fashion sense.

OTHER FACTORS: Harsh hair styling products full of chemicals and pollution have the same effect on your colored hair. These can also disintegrate the dye molecule causing a loss in both color and brilliance/shine.

That's why hair care products or color protect shampoos rich in fruit extracts and high antioxidants can prevent color fade. Sulphate free shampoos are quite milder than foaming ones. They don't open up your cuticles much, so color fading slows down considerably.

If you can't figure out which hair natural products to use, try out Argan oil which has anti-oxidant properties and it also seals the cuticles left open by your hair color. Please don't use it a few days before coloring your hair, use only as an after treatment.

Hope you find these tips helpful and can now take better care of your color-treated hair. Appreciate your comments and feedback.

image source 1 3


  1. Wow Gagan. U explained it so well. Will keep these things in mind whever i would go for chemical dye.

    1. Thanks Megha. Direct sun rays and chlorine can harm even virgin hair.

    2. Hey....thanks for these tips
      Can you please tell me the name of hair colour & shampoo for use which is not more harmful for hairs.

    3. Hi Gaurav, you are welcome. Please check my article "Color your hair without chemicals" under the Hair Care tab above. You can also find it under "Popular Posts" section on the right hand side of this page.

  2. Well written and explained! I agree after coloring using a shampoo should be avoided and color should be washed with water only.

    1. Thanks Niesha. Unfortunately all salons shampoo clients' hair after coloring :(

  3. awesome.. these tips can come only from an expert.. !! will surely share these with relatives who have chemically treated hair :)

    1. Thanks Supriya :) That would be great if others too can benefit from this info :)

  4. Hi Gagan,

    Thx so much for that wonderful piece of information.

    Can you pls suggest couple of hair colors with least harm that can be used to cover white hair?

    1. If you want to go for a 100% chemical free Alternative, go for Henna and Indigo that I am currently using. It gives complete gray coverage and will give you the same color as your natural black/dark brown. Otherwise, all other colors in the market have similar ingredients, it's just that the proportion of chemicals used varies which makes some comparatively milder and some other colors harsher.

  5. Thx Gagan..

    Can you pls suggest a good brand of indigo? I have been using henna, but it stands out from my black/white hair, resulting in three sets of hair - some naturally black shafts, some covered with henna's brown/orange and some small roots of white.

    Thx once again

    1. Sure, please email me after becoming a member. Details under blog policy. I will be doing a post with pictures showing how Indigo covers grays but the details are too long to share here. I will get back to your email after Sept 1st week as I have some personal commitments till then and not answering emails at present.

  6. Hi Gagan...I loved reading your above article ....have gone through your blog many times since yesterday....just loved your sincere and knowledgeable views and opinions. Thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks for the love and appreciation Rafat. Very happy to read your comment :) I also noticed today you have liked my Facebook page. I am glad people are finding this blog helpful and are now openly sharing feedback with me as compared to before. You are welcome and please be in touch!

  7. Hi Gagan,

    Awesome info - really appreciate the way you took your time in explaining these in detail..
    I am using Radico Heena since last 2 years, but during winters I suffer from Cold after applying Heena. So, I got a Loreal Paris Creme Gloss (No Ammonia) color today, and just wondering is it good to apply it now as I had done Heena on my hair 2 months back.. Please suggest..

    1. Casting Creme may not even work on your hair for the first time or may give you a patchy color. It is a demi-permanent color just like Henna except that it has ammonia, resorcinol and peroxides. Demi-permanent colors cannot replace your natural melanin but because there are chemicals, it would first bleach and disrupt the protective layer on your hair formed by Henna. Which means you will lose all the Henna protection benefit. Second, henna forms a bond with the hair, so this color would just literally sit on the outside of your hair on top of the henna layer and wash off in just 1-2 shampoos. Even if you apply permanent hair color on henna treated hair, the color doesn't last long. There is a transition period of 6 months. If cold id the only problem, then there is a specific way to use Henna in winters without worrying about any cold feeling at all. Radico Henna is quite gritty, you can rub it between 2 glass slides and hear the impurities. Have tried it a few years ago.

  8. Sir,
    i am having hair dye allergy so which brand i can use and i also tried black rose and all this is also reaction for me, so please advice which is better for non allergic hair dye


Comments will be visible once I approve them manually.

Anonymous comments will not be answered. So either use a profile or the Name/URL option to comment (can leave the URL box blank).

In Google Chrome, you can tick mark the 'Notify Me' box in the bottom right to get notified when I reply to your comment.