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.  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 Shampoo + 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

7 tips for maintaining bright hair colors - The Dainty Squid











Author: Kaylah

Just a green haired gal from Cleveland, Ohio.

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  • 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!


  • 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.