Hair lovers who have spent a lifetime coloring their hair all kinds of shades and hues assume they can simply dye their hair when those little gray and white streaks start showing up. There’s nothing wrong with that, but coloring gray hair isn’t that simple. In this piece, we’ll be looking at how to make hair color last longer on gray hair.
The thing is, anyone transitioning to gray knows that once your hair loses its color, it’s not as easy to dye it.
Gray hair is notorious for being stubborn when it comes to dyes, so it takes double the effort to ensure that color treatments last.
But why is gray hair more difficult to dye in the first place?
And is there anything one can do to extend the lifespan of their color treatment if they did it over graying hair?
Read on to find out how to make hair color last longer on gray hair.
It’s More Difficult To Dye And Maintain Color On Gray Hair
It’s a known fact among more mature ladies that gray hair is more challenging to dye.
That’s why many beauty brands create hair dyes specifically for gray coverage.
But why is gray hair super stubborn to color to begin with?
Gray strands are more resistant to dyes and hair colors because of their coarse and dry texture.
The older you get, the less active your sebaceous glands become, so there’s less sebum secreted into your scalp and hair, leaving it super dehydrated, fragile, and rough to the touch.
This usually comes at around the same time your melanocytes get less active and strip your hair of its natural color.
So not only is your hair going gray, it’s also getting super dry.
And dry hair is almost always problematic when it comes to hair dyeing.
Coloring gray hair can get very frustrating because there’s a chance that you’ll end up with patchy colored areas instead of a solid shade.
Plus, the color on gray hair is prone to fading quickly in just a matter of weeks when it’s supposed to stay on for a few months.
While planning out your hair coloring sessions and nourishing your hair the right way beforehand is important for all hair types, it’s a non-negotiable for gray locks.
How To Make Hair Color Last Longer On Gray Hair
Here are a few of the things you can’t afford to skip if you want the color to last longer on your gray hair:
Always choose a hair dye that’s good for gray coverage
If you’re new to coloring gray hair, you should know that not all hair dyes will work on your locks.
If you pick one without reading the instructions on the packaging, you might accidentally use one that isn’t designed for gray hair.
You may just end up washing all the color out the second you hit the shower.
When shopping for a hair dye, always go for ones that are labeled “for gray coverage”.
This means that the formula was created with stubborn gray hairs in mind.
That way, you won’t have to do trial and error with different hair dyes just to find out which dyes will be properly absorbed by gray hair.
A terrific permanent dye that is designed for 100% gray coverage is the L’Oreal Paris Excellence Creme Permanent Hair Color.
It’s meant to color even stubborn grays from root to tip, so you’re sure to flaunt a solid, vibrant color after one at-home session.
This permanent dye is designed with L’Oreal’s signature triple protection system to help condition the hair and replenish it of lost strength and moisture.
The package comes with a conditioning treatment that’s rich in collagen, ceramides, and keratin to give your smoother, softer, shinier hair post-coloring.
Another great thing about this hair dye is that it comes in a creamy non-drip formula.
It’s not super runny, so you’re less likely to make a mess on your bathroom floor.
Leave the dye in your hair longer
Aside from picking out the best dye for gray coverage, you should also know how often and how long to apply the color to your hair to let it absorb thoroughly.
One common reason that hair color fades fast on gray locks is that the color didn’t sit long enough on the strands before being washed out.
The cuticles in gray hair are tight and closed shut, so it takes a while for dye and pigments to enter it.
You need to saturate your hair with the dye and then leave it on for longer than instructed on the packaging if you want your dye to penetrate your stubborn grays properly.
If you leave the dye on even just by a minute short, you could end up with patchy and streaky color.
And that’s a nightmare that’s even harder to fix!
So when applying hair color to your gray hair, concentrate the application to the areas of your gray hair that are the most challenging to cover up.
This will include the edges and your hair part.
Hair at the roots is more difficult to color than the ends, which are usually more porous and take on color faster.
Successfully coloring your gray hair doesn’t just depend on the length of time you leave the dye in your strands.
You also have to dye your locks more frequently.
Color fades faster on gray hair, and if you don’t want to lose that vibrancy over the next few months, you’ll have to recolor.
Consider calendaring your hair coloring sessions so you can keep track of when you should do a touch-up of your dye.
If that seems too high maintenance, just use your roots as a guide.
If the grays are peeking through by a full inch, it’s time to re-dye.
Wash your hair with gentle, sulfate-free shampoos
If you want to make your color last, the number one rule (even for those that don’t have gray hair) is to avoid harsh, sulfated shampoos.
Sulfates are the surfactants or cleaning agents you find in everyday shampoos.
They make your shampoo foam up and get all sudsy.
But they’re a nightmare for dyed hair because they can easily wash out and fade your color.
It’s even worse when you wash your hair with these shampoos every single day.
You fade your color and simultaneously thin out your hair because of the harshness of the sulfates.
And when you damage your strands, it’s easier for pigments to seep out.
You should also do your best to avoid shampoos with higher pH levels.
An imbalanced pH can force your hair cuticles to open up, making it possible for the hair dye to escape and get washed out.
This can leave your hair looking dull and off-tone.
If you’re looking for a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo that will work for colored hair, look no further than the Matrix Total Results Color Obsessed Antioxidant Shampoo.
It’s designed to add vibrance and enhance your hair color instead of fading it, even if you wash regularly.
The formula also contains natural antioxidants to protect your colored hair from environmental aggressors that can speed up the fading process.
You can go up to 32 washes without your color fading!
That’s way more than just a regular drugstore shampoo.
Space out your wash days
Before leaving the salon after your color appointment, your stylist should remind you not to shampoo your hair for about 72 hours.
This is to ensure that your cuticles will have fully absorbed the dye before then and you won’t just flush your new color down the shower drain.
But it’s not just immediately after your coloring session that you should be wary of wash days.
Moving forward, you need to space out your shampoo days if you want to prolong your new hair color.
Shampooing your hair every day (even with a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo) can strip your locks of the natural oils and sebum that moisturize it and keep it shiny and healthy.
It could also speed up the fading process because of the sheer frequency of washing.
For as long as you’re taking care of color-treated hair, you shouldn’t be washing your locks daily.
Try to shampoo your hair just two or three times a week.
I know what you’re thinking. What if your hair gets greasy because of the build-up of sweat and oils in your scalp between wash days?
Well, the answer to that is a little something we like to call dry shampoo.
Dry shampoos absorb the excess impurities and sebum in your hair and scalp when you can’t wash your hair yet.
They’re an awesome way to refresh and add volume to your hair in mere seconds.
A color-safe dry shampoo we love is the Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo.
This silicone- and paraben-free dry shampoo sucks up all the nasty dirt and oil in your hair, replacing it instead with a clean, fresh scent.
It’s designed to be safe for chemically-treated hair like yours.
It’s also formulated with Living Proof’s special cleaning technology to make sure the dry shampoo soaks up the grime quickly.
The brand’s patented Healthy Hair Molecule ensures that the powder isn’t hard to brush off of the hair.
Maintain your tone with a color-depositing shampoo
A convenient way to keep your hair color intact before your next touch-up is to use a color-depositing conditioner to make your shade more vibrant and renewed.
It’s kind of like a normal conditioner, except it disperses pigments in the hair to re-dye your locks.
And to maintain your cool and ashy tone, you should use a toning shampoo.
Purple shampoos work best for blondes trying to eliminate excess yellows.
On the other hand, blue ones are perfect for brunette hair that tend to have orange brassiness.
If you don’t consistently tone your hair color, you’ll be left with a harsh and unnatural-looking brassiness that looks overly warm and unflattering.
An example of a terrific toning shampoo that’s suitable for colored hair is the amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde Shampoo.
It’s infused with violet pigments that work to counteract those distracting brassy tones.
One wash with this, and you can restore your color’s cool, flattering tone.
This shampoo is formulated with wild cherry bark extracts that help bring out your true color’s shine and brilliance.
It also leaves your mane feeling soft and hydrated with a bit of extra luminosity.
Plus, it has proteins, amino acids, and a ton of vitamins to make your strands more resilient against damage!
The best part? This purple shampoo leaves your mane smelling sweet, spicy, and fruity all at once.
Protect your hair from fading fast under the sun
One of the biggest culprits of color-fading is the sun.
Its UV rays can cause the pigments in your hair to deteriorate, making your shade look brassy and dull.
The sun can also dry out your hair, even more, making it coarser in texture.
This is another no-no if you want to maintain healthy colored hair.
So next time you go on a hike under the hot sun, make sure you use some kind of UV protection on your strands.
If you can’t, at least wear a hat or visor to block out some of those UV rays.
These rays can damage your hair and fade your lovely color.
The Sun Bum Revitalizing 3-in-1 Leave-In Conditioner is an awesome way to nourish your colored hair while protecting it from the sun.
It serves as a conditioner, detangler, and UV protectant all in one.
And since it’s paraben-free and vegan it’s safe for anyone with colored locks.
This leave-in spray is infused with quinoa proteins and sunflower seed oil, both of which help to preserve your hair color and prevent premature fading.
It also has coconut oil and banana extracts to help smoothen and detangle your hair for a soft, healthy bounce.
It’s never easy glamming up gray hair because it’s incredibly stubborn when taking on color.
However, there are things you can do to work through the struggle.
Be diligent as you protect your hair against sun damage and space out your wash days.
Also, take an active stance in maintaining your color by using a color-depositing shampoo for a quick and easy re-dye.
Let these tips above be your unbreakable rules when trying to extend the longevity of your newly-colored, formerly gray hair.
You’ll be able to enjoy your gorgeous new color way longer than you had anticipated.