7 tips for maintaining bright hair color

For nine straight I’ve been dyeing my hair unnatural colors. During this time I’ve written numerous hair related posts including how to bleach your hair, two tips for switching colors, and my must have hair products. Today I’ll be sharing how to maintain your color, which isn’t that hard but seems to be a mystery to a lot of people. All of the hair dyes you would use to dye your hair a funky color are semi-permanent and fade no matter what. In my outfit posts you can see my hair color is never the same more than once, even daily my hair color changes due to rinsing. Fading is inevitable but here are seven easy tips to help make your color last.

1 // Good color starts with healthy hair. While bleaching your hair isn’t the best way to start, it is necessary to do in order to achieve a bright color.Β  Unhealthy, damaged hair will not hold color well. You may make it from black hair to pink in a week by bleaching your hair twice a day but that pink won’t hold because your hair is in rough shape. Be patient with your journey from dark hair to colored hair. Make sure to nurture your hair. Hair masks and repair products are your best friends! (I shared a few of my favorites here!)


2 // After healthy hair, the next most important thing is a high-quality hair dye. I highly recommend Punky Colours and Special Effects. I’m sure there are other great dyes, but those are the two I always turn to despite trying many others. Since those brands do NOT damage your hair, it’s totally fine, and really highly recommended that you leave it in for much longer than the recommended time. The packaging usually says something “let sit for 20 minutes before rinsing.” If you leave your hair dye in for 20 minutes that color is not going to last very long at all. I normally try to leave my hair color in for a minimum of three hours. The longer, the better! Since I always mix my dyes with equal parts conditioner my hair is also being nourished while I wait on the dye to set.

3// Rinse with cool water. This is actually my best tip. If you skip all other tips (please don’t, especially healthy hair!) this is the one to follow. Warm water opens the hair cuticle allowing the color to escape. I’m not saying you need to wash your hair with ice cold water, but in reality, the colder the better. I wash and rinse my hair in as cold of water as I can stand, toss it up in a towel then crank that water up for the rest of my shower.

Cold water also helps reduce bleeding if you have more than one color, otherwise your hair color will just turn into a mess similar to when you mix different colors of paint together.

While we’re on the subject of water, it should be noted that swimming in chlorinated water is awful for your hair color. (But hey, if you want to fade your hair, go for it!) For good measures, just keep your hair dry as much as possible and avoid hot water!

4 // Avoid shampoos with sulfates and styling products with alcohol. Sulfates and alcohol-based products are two huuuuge things that will fade any hair color. Sulfate free shampoos can be kind of tricky to find sometimes, but they’re definitely worth switching to. I recommend Sparks Color Care Sulfate-Free ShampooΒ + Conditioner.

Even with sulfate free shampoo, you should still try to cut back on shampoo use. Shampoo strips your hair of its natural oils, as well as the color. If you’re lucky enough to not have super greasy hair (like me!) skip washing every other day and use a dry shampoo on your off days. My dry shampoo of choice is Aveda Shampure. (also on Amazon) It’s a little bit more expensive than others I’ve found and tried but easily the best!

When I shampoo I try to only apply it to the roots, where my hair is most likely to become greasy, and only avoid the ends of my hair since that’s what normally fades most quickly anyway.

5 // Mix some color into your conditioner. If you add hair dye to your conditioner you’ll be depositing a little bit of color every time you condition. This only applies if your hair is a solid color, or a mix of the same colors in different shades obviously. This is also a great idea because you’re able to leave conditioner in your hair for longer without running the risk of fading it. Healthier hair + brighter color = win/win!

6 // Avoid heat styling. If you must heat style (hey, I feel ya), use a protectant! This is my personal favorite, I’ve been using it for a while now. When I’m using my curling wand, and not just my blow dryer, I also add some argan oil to the tips which helps protect the color as well.

7 // Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. Just like your skin, the sun isn’t necessarily good for your hair color. Try wearing a hat if you’ll be spending a long time in the sun. There are also UV protection sprays for your hair. I use Sparks Color Care Protecting Spray. Highly recommended!

All of the above should help you maintain your hair color. If you have any hair questions or are looking for more tips, check out my hair master post!Β 
xoxo

7 tips for maintaining bright hair colors - The Dainty Squid

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Author: Kaylah

Just a green haired gal from Cleveland, Ohio.

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  • Love these tips! I used to dye my hair myself but after being bleach blonde for 3 years, my hair was getting pretty damaged. I've had my hair professionally dyed purple for the last two years and I love it! I'm happy to say I follow most of your tips but never thought about only shampooing my scalp and not ends. I'm also excited to look into the some of the products you use like the heat protectant and hair masks!

  • Thank you so much for these tips! I've only been dying my hair wonderful bright colours for a few months so still have a lot to learn. Last time I used conditioner with the colour dye for the first time and just left the colour on over night and I cannot get over how much better my hair feels for it. Going to start adding a little bit of colour each time I condition now, fantastic tip! Which will hopefully save me having to update my hair as frequently. Thanks again! x

  • Thanks again for all the tips πŸ™‚ I've had a dip dye in for a few years now (bluuuue – one of my favourites!) and prior to that I was a henna addict. HOWEVER in a few weeks time I'll be taking the plunge and bleaching my whole head, then doing the blue all over (midnight blue to start with – got to ease them in gently at work!!)

    I tried some Hask placenta spray conditioner thanks to your recommendation – it was a bumpy start (the first bottle I ordered exploded in the post, meaning I ended up with just a soggy parcel in my letter box!!) but now I've got some I can actually use, I love it. Smells gorgeous, too.

    What am I trying to say here? Oh right! Thanks for all the hair advice!! Looking forward to the next step in my bright hair journey πŸ™‚

    Astrid

  • Your hair is so beautiful! I'm not brave enough to try anything like that, or dedicated enough for the upkeep haha. But I love looking at the fun colors you use!

    Miranda
    Little Gold Pocket Watch

  • Thanks for this post. I want some color my hair in all the unnatural hues of the rainbow. I have the most delicate hair type (dry, thin, curly, breaks easier than antique lace, I'm Afro-Caribbean/Mexican and use heat twice a month at least with a heat protector and pro-tips from my hair-stylist aunt) and it's scary to dye it.

    I do all of your tips and feel more confident in making baby steps toward "skittle-hair". Your hair (and you) are goooorgeous. Truly. Thanks for the inspiration Kayla.

  • This is such an informative post! That tip about rinsing with cold water really works! I was always annoyed that my red hair color didn't last long, but once I started rinsing it was cold water, and also shampooing less, it lasted over twice as long.

  • This is SO helpful! I recently dyed my hair (mostly) royal blue, and I am finding even now 4 weeks after I dyed it, it's still rubbing off on my neck – do you have any tips or tricks for getting it to set? Or am I doomed to be blue? I'm really glad I went no-poo before I went bright blue! The color stays bright for so long!

  • Love your hair, your blog and look… so exciting to gleen just a little inspiration…

    Anyway, As just wondering if you had any advice how to strip blue colour from hair? Despite bleaching I just can't shift it :-(…
    I wonder if you have any tips?

    Ta very muchly

  • Thank you for these tips! I color my daughter's hair pink. It's fading, but not gone. I think she'd like purple next. Do you recommend bleaching out the pink, or overdoing? In short, how do you switch colors? Love your photos and your beautiful hair!

  • I've been following you for so long now, and there is absolutely no color you can't rock. Absolutely beautiful! Thanks for the tips, it's been a long time since I've colored my hair a fun color and I'm itching to do it once again.

  • I live by your hair color tips, Kaylah! I usually leave my color in 5-6 hours because I'm a stay-at-homer and can do that. It really helps with vibrance/stayablity. I really appreciate you updating your color tips posts. πŸ™‚

  • I'd also like to know how to keep the color from rubbing off onto clothes and skin. My unbleached auburn hair went Enchanted Forest (Manic Panic) a few days ago and the color is rubbing off on everything. The side of my neck where my coat collar rubs my hair against my skin, my hands, and my forehead are all still a charming shade of piney teal. I wash my hands constantly throughout the day and try to keep from touching my hair too much, but I'd like to know how your'e able to keep your clothes and skin stain free after the initial dyeing process.
    Thanks!

  • i am curious as to which sulfate free shampoo you use. would you mind sharing? i thought you posted somewhere that you use a TRESemme one, but it seemed as though the link took me to a product that had a sulfate as the second ingredient. not sure what i did wrong, but hopefully you can enlighten me. thanks!

  • How much do you think it would cost approximatly to color hair unnatural colors and keep it? cause i heard that its expensive and such but i really would love to just go all out and begin the journey

  • Hey there! I was just wondering what brands/shades of blue you find work the best? Also, do you have any tips on how to avoid green tones in the fading process?

    Thanks!

  • Any suggestions for cookies that still turn out pretty good on dark hair??? I really don't want to bleach and I prefer not going darker then what I am already. I have medium brown hair and I'm really in love with red.

  • Wow, I've been dying my hair bright red for 4 months now and my hair keeps breaking really bad. Before I started dying it my hair was by the bottom of my back. It's broke that much my sides are above my shoulders and some just by my bra strap. Never thought about putting conditioner in the dye that's a great tip I will also be using hair mask thanks for your help. I was tempted to go back to my normal colour but will give these tips a try first

  • Thanks a million for this post! i've been platinum (naturally daaaaark brown) for 2 years and just took the plunge a week ago to Red Hot (loreal for dark hair only creme color) its like a superhero red and i love it. i washed it for the first time (only wash on saturdays, i live off dry shampoo) with super cold water with a red shampoo from sallys, but the color still came off my ends pretty bad. I hear that after around 4 color touch ups then it will start to stay better. I am definitely going to try your hask placenta recommendation as well as the UV protectant since i'm in the sun a lot. I'm not going to give up on this red though, i love it too much.

  • I'm using Punky colors rose red and I love the vibrant long lasting color. However I have followed all the tips and while my color isn't fading it bleeds so much. I have to bleach my tub after every wash. How can I stop the bleeding?!

  • I love your hair colors! You are super cute and I love your dimples! Thank you for the tips!
    I have brown natural hair on top and purple ombre on the ends and it keeps fading to a grayish color. I realize this is in style but I really want it to stay purple! I actually use most of your tips already except adding color to my conditioner.
    Anyway, I am especially in love with the blue and purple in the top picture and would love to try it! I am not sure how to get that effect though. Would I want to put blue on the top layers and purple on the bottom layers?

  • How long does the brand, punky colour, stain thing ( clothes, pillow case, etc.) after its been washed? This is my first time dying my hair and I'm in the dark.

  • Hi Kaylah! My hair is currently a teal blue colour, but my problem is that my roots won't hold the dye… they're a kind of greenish yellow at the moment. No matter how much I dye them or how long I leave the dye in, they will not go blue! It's been like this from day 1 so I know it's not regrowth, and I got it done professionally the first time too… please help!! β™‘

  • THANK YOU SO MUCHβ™‘!
    Hi Kaylahβ™‘ My name is Crystal & I'm from Mexico! I LOVEβ™‘ all these unnatural hair colors but I've never been able to dye my hair blue, pink or some of the beautiful colors you dye your hair because of school :(, yes, sadly it's not so common here, and the system of basic education -from preschool to high school- forbids it :'c! and I'm studying to be preschool teacher, so I can't take it too far r.r! but since I was fifteen I'm a red headβ™‘ & I LOVE ITβ™‘:D haha I've been dying my hair with different shades of red for almost ten years! but since I started young and ignorant about this topic I never took care of my hair! & it was a huge mess :'(! but enough of sad stories :3! recently I realized I needed to do something about it and this is how I ended up here reading your blog :3! I just wanted to thank you for these amazing tips and say YOU ARE BEAUTIFULβ™‘:D! And if some day I'm able to dye my hair like youβ™‘ I'll share you my results ;)! hugs&kisses from Mexico ;D!

  • Can you explain how to
    Mix the color with conditioner as well as adding some to your conditioner. Sorry if my comments are posting multiple times I'm trying to figure out how to do this!!!

    • Kaylah, when you say put the color in the conditioner, do you mean the dye and developer mixed together into the conditioner bottle, or just the dye into the conditioner bottle? Thanks for the clarification! πŸ™‚

  • Ive been dyeing my hair for 10 years in a row now and im 19, but the conditioner with dye is awesome xD I would have never thought of that! Both me and my girlfriend have blue hair, mines a comb over with just blue on the comb over the rest is black and I dyed my girlfriends hair blue ombre on the bottom half. But thx I hate my hair fading so quickly xD

  • Also if you use the "WEN" shampoo and conditioner, I have found that it's the best shampoo and conditioner to use on UN-natural colored hair, especially since the shampoo doesn't foam, or bubble up when washing your hair like regular Shampoo's, works good for me

  • Hi Kaylah, I wanted to ask how do you go from one color to another without that mingle the new over the old? discolour your hair again before moving on to another color? I have a turquoise clear enough but I can not even take it off with the discoloration! :/ I would make them colored tulip but I fear that they are not good on the color you have now, how should I do? Thank you very much for your response! πŸ™‚ Ps. You're really cute! πŸ˜‰ Kiss
    Francesca

    • That's not true. You should be leaving just any old hair color on your hair for that long but manic panic, punky colours, and special effects the longer the better. πŸ™‚

  • Is it better to mix the color with conditioner? I did turquoise,blue, and purple in mine. All the videos I have watched do that and I don't see much difference between their end result and mine.Just wondering what you thought? I also didn't realize it was ok to leave it on that long but it's awesome that you can! I really want the purple to be darker and more vibrant than it turned out.

  • Love your hair colours. What i was wondering i have had purple highlight and want to maintain them without going to the salon once a month can i picksomething up from sallys to do it myself without bleaching everytime. Ty

  • Thanks, I have dreamt to get hot pink hair…… when I did that last week….. it looked sad very fast! with your suggestion at hand, you will make this 54 years Mom real happy!!!!!! <3

  • This helped a lot, I just recently bleached and dyed my hair for the first time. I went from ginger to vibrant, dark blue and black in the back. I want my colors to last as long as they can.

  • Wish I found this post earlier lol. I dyed my hair gray and it's fading so I'm planning on redyeing myself. I'm using Arctic Fox dyes because I've heard they're good, but I'm a little confused.
    Can I use the dye straight up, or should I mix it with conditioner? I've seen people do both and I'm not sure what's best to do in my situation :/

  • Hey love this! I'm an unnatural hair dye addict πŸ™‚ I've been every colour now except pink. Which leads me to my dilemma! My last colour was a gorgeous emeral green. I loved it! But now it's time for a change so I'm fading it out. Oh my isn't that a task & a half!! I've been reading about all these weird & wonderful remedies with vitamin C, baking soda & anti-dandruff shampoo but I'm still not convinced it's going to shift the green enough? It's pretty well in there ya know?! So, do I relent & try bleach bathing it? I'm reluctant but short of going back to brunette (which makes me want to sob!) I'm not sure I have a choice?
    Poppy x

  • I just recently dyed my whole hair bright electric purple. I've never done it before and I know very little. Do you know about a product called oVertone? I want to know if it's worth getting. Thanks so much for sharing your wealth of info. It's helped me so much already.

  • Thank you so much for this! I know you posted this long ago but I loved it! My nine year old son started coloring his hair last year and is an addict lol! I just have a quick question! Do you know if I can save the unused portion to refresh his color as needed r does it have to be used at the same time?

    Thank you! You are gorgeous!

  • Thank you for the advice!
    I colored my hair blue a few days ago. This morning was the first I washed it… There was a lot of color in the water and when I dryed it my hands and neck were blue. I cannot play with my hair anymore because I get color on my hands. Is this normal?! How can I make it stop?!

  • Amazing tips and suggestions; you answered every question I had “pondering” in my head. THANK YOU. Your hair is gorgeous, by the way (all the colors!).

  • My niece wants to dye her hair a silver color. It’s good to know that rushing through the bleaching process can damage her hair like you mentioned. I wouldn’t want her hair to look colorful for a day and then fade out because her hair is damaged.

  • Hi Kaylah,

    Thanks for the tons of great advice. A recently did virgin rose (special effects), purple, turquoise, and green apple! Love it, I feel like a unicorn. I mixed the dye with conditioner first, but I had some left overs. Do you know if I can save the dye that’s been mixed and still use it the next time? Or should I toss it and start fresh? Thanks!

    Kate

  • How much color do you mix with the conditioner?
    Also, your hair is amazing! I don’t think I would be able to pull off that shade, I have Arctic Fox’s aquamarine

  • Thank you for your amazing posts on hair. At 51, I decided it was time to start trying outrageous colors. I had it done at Aveda, but it faded so quickly that I needed a better and less expensive option. Your step-by-step instructions were fantastic.

  • Thanks so much! I just started coloring the top of my hair blue and it quickly fades to a light green. I think thanks to you I can keep it brighter longer!

  • I’ve been using Manic Panic’s Shocking Blue on my bleached ends, and somehow it came out purple!! I even diluted it with conditioner, and my hair was a yellow blonde, so if anything I was expecting more of a green blue than a pinky purple blue! So weird. I’m a bit annoyed because I was really going for a true blue colour but every time I use manic panic it’s kind of a lottery with what you end up with (which makes it kinda fun too). Any tips on what I should do? It might not have helped that I’ve been using purple shampoo twice a week….

  • If I use manic panic in my conditioner..
    Will it stain my hands and will it continue to bleed it throughout the week under my clothing and my pillows?

    • Honestly, I’m not sure. If you have issues with manic panic bleeding then I’d probably be inclined to believe it would keep doing that if you’re continuing to add some to your hair daily. BUT I’ve always noted that when I add conditioner to my hair dye (to dye my hair) that it rinses clear almost immediately where if I hadn’t added conditioner it would the water would run whatever color I was dyeing my hair.

  • I noticed that you mentioned Sparks products but not actual Sparks dye, have you used it before? If so, what’s you opinion on it? And would it be a dye that would be ok to be left on for a very long time (as you do yours)? I hope you can help me. Thanks in advance.

    • Yes, I have. I’m not too crazy about it. I have a bunch of it so it’s good in a pinch but I don’t think I’d repurchase. I always, always, always recommend Punky Colours.

  • What shade are you using in the photo if you in a striped top, sunglasses in your head and overalls. Hot purple, under it is blue, then green, then yellow. I’ve gotten that purple ONCE mixing colors – never again. I LOVE THAT!!

  • Thank you for this Kaylah πŸ™‚ I’ve just dyed my hair violet after being boring blonde for 7 years!! Love your writing style. Another Dainty Squid fan in the bag!! Xx

  • Does it matter what brand of conditioner I use if I ass my own hair color to it? I go between pureology hydrate and biolage hydra source conditioning balm

  • Hi there! I know this post is very old so I’m not sure you’ll see this, but in case you do: first of all, thank you for all the tips! Secondly, do you know if it’s ok to mix permanent hair dye with conditioner to freshen up the color? The permanent dye has ammonia in it so I’m not sure it’s ok to keep using it, even if in small amounts… I dyed my hair with a permanent color and I was wondering if I could use the same dye with conditioner. Thanks!

  • Omg rad! Thank you for your article. I wish I could do multi color but so much maintenance for me. (I just keep a solid color half crown) Your pics are amazing!