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If you get your hair colored, you know two things. One, you want your hair to be healthy, shiny and look its best (that’s technically three things). And two, you want it to last! With such high standards, I knew there was one stylist I had to turn to: Bobbie Smith of Bobbie Smith Hair and Shanti Salon in Newburyport. Besides her talent as a hair stylist, I love Bobbie for the education she provides about why certain things are good or bad when it comes to haircare. So Bobbie, tell us everything we need to know about hair color care in five steps or less. Spoiler alert: she went with five.

1. Keep it clean.
Hair color used to be much harsher, so the idea was that “dirty hair” would have natural oils in place as a protectant. Today, hair color has come such a long way that it actually has hydrating properties that leave hair feeling soft and shiny! If hair has build-up from products or natural oils it’s hard for the color to break through and get into the hair. It will end up laying on the outside and fade quickly. So clean hair prior to any color service is a must. Blondes will lift brighter, brunettes will last longer and you will get better gray coverage.

Courtesy of Bobbie Smith Hair/Shanti Salon

2. Sulfate free for me!
By now it’s common knowledge that sulfate free shampoos are better for hair. But how to find the right one? Don’t assume something is color safe just because it says so on the front of the bottle. Read those small letter ingredients on the back. Check for any ingredients that may include the term “sulfate.” Anything that contains sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, and sodium pareth sulfate should be avoided. What are sulfates? Harsh detergents that open up the hair cuticle, pull out beautiful color and wash it down the drain, that’s what!

Courtesy of Bobbie Smith Hair/Shanti Salon

3. Be friends with dry shampoo.
Dry shampoo is great, but find the right one. Shampooing your hair less will help your color last. Even if you’re using a sulfate free shampoo, gloss and toners aren’t permanent. If you’re getting a gloss or a demi permanent color, it’ll last longer the less you shampoo. Consider this: every minute it develops at the sink equals one shampoo. My hands down favorite dry shampoos are Hair Refresher by Davines and PSSSST! by Freeman. No white residue left behind and they smell fresh without being overwhelming. 

4. Here comes the sun.  
Wear a hat. The sun fades everything. If it can fade your couch cushions, imagine what it can do to your hair color! While we’re on the subject, avoid chlorine. Nothing kills blonde hair faster than chloride. If you’re going for a dip in the pool, use a leave-in conditioner to help protect against the chlorine.

Courtesy of Bobbie Smith Hair/Shanti Salon

5. How old are those hot tools, anyway?
Blow dryers are only meant to last a certain number of hours (typically 600-800). Often times clients will be doing all the right things, but their color is fading and their hair is drying out. That’s when I do some digging and ask, “how old is your blow-dryer?” If you’re using a half in the grave blow-dryer, it’s killing your hair. The mechanics of the heat circulation are dead and the dryer is blowing unprotected heat which is opening up the cuticle and frying it. Which in turn allows your color to slip out. You are actually “boiling” the water on your hair and destroying the cuticle to the point of killing it. When this happens, hair will resist color and needs to be cut off (which is also why you should never, ever, flat iron hair with any moisture in it).