Caring for Dyed, Damaged Hair

Damaged Hair

So you’ve decided to join the colored hair clan, congrats! Now that you’ve picked out your favorite color and either dyed it yourself at home (high five) or gone to a stylist, you’re probably wondering how you should care for your hair. After all, it might feel super moisturized and healthy after a trip to the salon, but it doesn’t take long for the dryness to appear. Especially after the first wash! We’ve had our hair go from looking like the Kardashians to looking like Ana from Frozen after she first wakes up after that first wash.

If you’re a seasoned veteran like us when it comes to the magical world of hair dye, then you know just how damaging dye can be on your strands. Even the most moisture rich, vitamin packed hair dyes or a trip to a salon can wreck havoc on your hair. That’s because the dye has affected both the cuticles and the cortex making them weaker. Dye forces your hair cuticles to open in order to allow the dye to penetrate the hair shaft. This also leads to a breakdown of keratin proteins in your hair strands.

And don’t even get us started on the straw-like feeling of freshly bleached hair. Bleaching is one of the harshest things you can do to your hair; especially if you’re going for that beautiful ash or silver blonde that requires multiple treatments. And if you’re naturally dark haired, then bleaching is seriously hard on your strands. And because you’re getting regular treatments to achieve your desired color, you’re constantly in a state of damaging your hair without giving it much reprieve between to recover.

Luckily though there are ways of babying your strands, prolonging your color, and restoring lost moisture. Just check out our colored hair commandments below and your locks will soon feel refreshed!

1. Don’t skip the keratin treatment

keratin treatment

If you’re getting your hair professionally done at a salon, then your colorist is going to ask if you want to do a keratin treatment. Your first thought might be that it’s just your stylist’s way of making a few extra bucks off you, but it’s really something that’s needed. And it’s pretty much a requirement if you’re having your hair bleached!

Hair dye is extremely hard on your locks and like we mentioned earlier, the chemicals eat away the keratin proteins. So not only will these treatments restore lost keratin, but they’ll also leave your hair feeling super silky, healthy, refreshed, and will protect your color. And as an added bonus if you bleached your hair, the keratin treatment can prevent it from going brassy.

Pro tip

If you’re dying your hair from a box or yourself at home (no judgments, we do the same thing sometimes), then you’ll want to pick up a keratin treatment or a hair mask that’s rich in oil and vitamins. Typically you’ll wait with these treatments until the first wash so that you don’t strip the hair color immediately.

You can also visit any salon for a treatment and they’re normally very cost effective. Plus the massage they give while working the oils into your hair feels nothing short of heavenly!

2. Wash your hair less frequently

Wash your hair less frequently

Chances are, you’re probably already washing your hair pretty infrequently. And if you aren’t, then you seriously need to put down the shampoo and back away! Unless you’re in the gym for several hours a day every day, your hair doesn’t need to be washed every day. Over washing removes natural oils that your hair needs, irritates the scalp, and can lead to dry scalp and even dryer strands.

Not to mention the more often you wash your hair, the more hair color is washed away. This is especially true of red dyes, which are already notorious for stripping fast. So how often should you wash your hair? We recommend washing your hair a max of three times a week but preferably twice. Don’t think you can skip that many days? Try a moisturizing dry shampoo or slowly acclimating your hair to less washing by only using conditioner for the bulk of your washing days.

Pro tip

Because your hair is damaged, you’ll want to be gentle with it when you do wash. Scratching the scalp might feel really good, but you’ll want to avoid going ham on the scratching. You’ll also want to avoid using hard motions and slowly work the shampoo and conditioner into your locks. If you absolutely scrub, pick up a silicone bristle brush, which is much easier on your scalp and locks than fingers.

3. Invest in color protectant shampoos and conditioners

shampoos and conditioners

While you might be tempted to use the same shampoo and conditioner you’ve always used, we highly recommend using something that specifically says it’s for color treated hair. Keep in mind that not all shampoos and conditioners are created equally. Not to diss on anyone’s beauty regimen or favorite products, but you’ll want to skip the Herbal Essences when it comes to taking care of your dye.

You’ll also want to make sure that the shampoo and conditioner you pick up are paraben and sulfate free. Both are incredibly harsh on your strands (as in you shouldn’t be using them on even non-dyed hair) and can strip color fast. Most shampoo and conditioner companies have begun shying away from using these additives, but some still do so make sure you read the labels.

Pro tip

We typically advise against drugstore brands but Carol’s Daughter, Shea Moisture, Biolage, and Biosilk are good brands. We suggest asking a hair color specialist (the person who did your hair at the salon assuming you didn’t do it at home) what they recommend since everyone’s hair is different.

Products designed for natural and curly hair are also great picks as they’re high in moisture and don’t contain parabens. Plus they all smell super delicious! Most typically aren’t marketed as color protectants but they tend to have more natural and nourishing ingredients so you’re safe to use them.

4. Heated styling products aren’t your friends

Heated styling products

You might think your flat iron and blow dryer are your hairs best friends but they’re not. Even virgin hair is impacted by the use of heat styling tools. That’s because the heat can “burn” hair follicles and strip them of proteins. While all heat tools damage your hair, using a blow dryer is one of the worst ones.  

Blow dryers strip hair of its moisture, cause undesirable frizz, split ends, and breakage. The heat from blow dryers also causes your hair cuticles to open, which means they won’t properly seal after washing. This can cause your hair dye to fade faster as well as weaken your strands.

Pro tip

Do you really need to break out the curling iron in the morning for those beachy waves? Sure, it’s tempting but please put it back especially if your hair is dyed! Instead, braid your hair (wet works better but you can also mist dry hair with water) in sections and go to bed. In the morning, you can undo the braids and run your fingers through your hair for gorgeous curls without the stress of heat.

If you absolutely must use a heated styling tool on your hair, then make sure you use a heat protectant before you put the tool anywhere near your locks. Heat protectants coat your locks and absorb the bulk of the heat and damage from the tool so it’s less harsh on your hair. Finish with a light oil or moisturizer.

5. Avoid the pool

Avoid the pool

Do you want green hair? Because swimming in chlorine is how you get green hair! And we’re not talking that trendy mermaid look either; picture stagnant swamp waters and that’s pretty close to the color that chlorine will turn your hair job into.

We recommend waiting a minimum of three to four weeks before dipping your head under in the pool. Keep in mind that regardless of how much time you put between your hair color and the pool, chlorine can still put the fading process in the fast lane.

Pro tip

After you’ve waited your grace period, you can hop into the pool but we recommend taking some precautions. Apply a layer of conditioner to your hair and pull it back into a bun before slipping into the waters. This will act as a barrier between your hair color and the chlorine.

Also, limit the amount of exposure your hair gets to the water. It can be tempting to float on a raft in the pool with your locks soaking in the cool waters, but opt for a sun chair or the shallows instead.

And always remember to baby your hair after a day at the pool. Give it some extra conditioner and even a hair mask afterwards!

6. Meet your new bff: leave in conditioner


Gone are the days when you could wash, dry, and brush your hair then be good to walk out the door. Now, your hair will need to be cared for and pampered. Even if you’re one of those who use a leave in conditioner or detangler, you’ll want to up your game when it comes to spoiling your freshly dyed locks.

Anything rich in moisture is something you’ll want to add to your beauty cabinet. What you pick will ultimately be up to you. There’s everything from mists to gels to creams to oils. Each one works differently and everyone’s hair is different. Us personally speaking, we use a combination. We begin with a moisture rich cream right after the shower before we brush our hair. Afterwards, we finish it off with a light protectant oil.

If you’re having trouble deciding, ask a stylist or one of your color-obsessed friends which ones they recommend.

Pro tip

Hair craves moisture after being dyed and will continue to do so for the duration of the color. So if you think that you’ll just need to baby your locks for the first few weeks, think again. Even virgin hair can benefit from an upped moisture regimen so go ahead and splurge on products even if you don’t intend to dye your hair ever again.

We seriously can’t tell you enough how wonderful curly and natural hair products are. There’s a reason why natural hair ladies are always rocking beautiful locks!

7. Be gentle with your wet hair

wet hair

While everything above is probably steps you’ve already considered, being gentle with your hair when it’s wet probably isn’t. When we first stepped into the hair color game, we just continued to use our normal hairbrush on wet hair: big mistake! Not only did this cause a ton of breakage and split ends, but also the frizz was unreal. And believe us when we say it’s hard to bounce back from even one wet brush.

Most guides will encourage you to finger brush your hair or wait until it’s dry to brush (yeah, we’re laughing too) but if you’re a naturally tangly girl like us, then you understand that your hair needs to be brushed right away. Plus, we cringe at the thought of all the loose hairs and dirt being wrapped in wet locks and drying that way.

Pro tip

Use a wide-tooth comb and go through your hair in small sections slowly working out the tangles. You don’t want to pull too hard since this causes breakage so be gentle and take it slow!

When you encounter a knot in your hair, you can use your fingers or the brush to slowly separate it from the rest of the locks and work it out. Never yank it out with the brush! It’s definitely time consuming but your hair (and scalp if you’re tender headed) will thank you for your patience.

Final hair color commandment

hair color

Let’s say you picked a shade that you don’t like or at worst does not compliment your skin and makes you look awful. After all, black hair isn’t for everyone and neither is fire red! You might be tempted to grab another tube of a more desirable hair color and “fix” your mistake. Do NOT do it! Put the color down and walk away, seriously.

Remember that stagnant water analogy we used earlier? Yeah, that’s what color you’ll turn your hair if you add even more color to it. If you can stand it, wait a week before color correcting. Can’t wait? Head to your local stylist for a fix. Keep in mind that not all color mistakes can be fixed (there’s no way even a miracle worker can take your midnight black out of your hair); so be careful when picking out a color!

And if you’re not sure what will look good on you, please visit a professional until you feel comfortable enough to do it on your own.

Oh and the picture above? Yeah, that isn’t even close to the shade of swamp green your hair will turn if you put dye on top of fresh dye.

Ready for the dye?

Now that you’ve read the commandments, we’d like to know what your thoughts are. Are they all common sense beauty rituals that you already do or were there some on the list that surprised you? Do you have your own hair color tip(s) to add to the list? We’d love to know what your must do hair color rituals are!

Vimal Lalani is senior correspondent for Ishli, Medical and Wellness unit, reporting breaking news and health consumer reporting on

Written by Vimal Lalani

Vimal Lalani is senior correspondent for Ishli, Medical and Wellness unit, reporting breaking news and health consumer reporting on


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