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How To Keep Fashion Colors Vibrant

Anyone who has dabbled in the field of fashion colors (hey, all you Unicornistas!), knows that the trick is somehow keeping the colors as vibrant as possible, for as long as possible. There’s not much worse than spending all that time and money getting a head full of vibrant unicorn hair, knowing that it’s going to fade. There are reasons they fade, but there are tricks to help mitigate that. Let’s unpack this a bit…

Firstly, fashion colors are typically direct dye (non-oxidative…. meaning they do not require the use of a developer) pigments, and are only MEANT to be semi-permanent. Most people who choose to receive fashion color services are the type of client who likes to change things up more frequently. The products are designed to last anywhere from 10-30 shampoo, and are also designed to fade completely from the hair (or close enough to completely that a change isn’t hard to achieve). Most fashion color manufacturers recommend applying them to dry, prelightened hair, which means that your visit will most likely include a session of lightening. This allows the color to be more vibrant, but can also significantly increase your chances of damage during the coloring process.

Secondly, being semi-permanent means that the pigments sit on the surface of the hair, without ever entering the cortex. Thus, every time you shampoo, a little more unicorn slides down the drain. Because the pigments aren’t anchored inside the cortex of your hair like permanent colors are, they will slowly fade (even if you were to never shampoo), until you are left at the level you started (or close to it). Being a surface dwelling color also means that the pigments are exposed to a little more environmental stress (UV damage, mineral buildup, heat damage, etc.).

All this combined is a perfect storm for color fade. But, all is not lost! Going into the process knowing it will fade means you have an opportunity to anticipate and utilize the fade as PART of the haircolor evolution. The fade from an intense magenta goes through a variety of shades of pink all the way down to a pastel before it is completely gone. Working that fade process into your haircolor equation means that you could extend time in between visits.

Outside of that, it’s a process of mitigating the color fade. First up…. don’t shampoo every day. Very few people are actually oily enough to warrant shampooing every day in the first place, and most people realize quickly that skipping that shampoo every other day results in healthier hair, not to mention reduced color fade. Plus, second day hair usually behaves much better than freshly shampooed hair. Use cool or even cold water to shampoo, and on the second day if you require wet hair to reset a style. Next, use shampoos designed to extend the longevity of your color. Harsh surfactants can do a number on sensitive fashion shades, much more quickly than you’d anticipate. Finally, use styling products that contain a UV screen to stop the sun from fading your color. Use heat protecting products if you are a heat styler… heat is also a top color fader. Use it as minimally as possible to achieve your style, and your color will last longer.


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