Have you noticed that about two weeks after you get your hair colored or highlighted, it begins to fade? Not significantly, but just enough so that it doesn't look as vibrant or rich as it did when you first colored it. It's possible to minimize fading with the use of color enhancing products. Plant-based dyes applied to the hair's outermost layers impart a subtle color lift. When used between salon visits, they give the perfect boost to help maintain color. Here's what you should know.
Types of Color Enhancers
Enhancers come in three forms -- shampoo, conditioner and leave-in treatments:
- A color-enhancing shampoo will tone down brassiness, create warmth and camouflage roots without altering professional salon color. Use just as you would traditional shampoo.
- A color-enhancing conditioner will extend the vibrancy of color-treated hair by adding moisture and smoothing the cuticle. Apply as you would regular conditioner and leave in for 5 to 10 minutes.
- A color-enhancing leave-in will deposit color that lasts until you wash your hair again, giving it added depth and luminosity. Apply to towel-dried hair and do not rinse.
You can also get a custom-made color enhancer from your stylist for a few dollars more. Prices range from $15 and up for ready-made enhancers to $20 and up for custom blends. Ready-made enhancers are available in stores and have been preformulated to suit various tones and shades. Custom-made enhancers are prepared exclusively by your colorist to complement the precise tones, highlights and condition of your hair.
Choosing (and Using) an Enhancer
To find out the pros and cons of each type of color enhancer, we spoke to master colorist Beth Minardi of New York's Minardi Salon (800-MINARDI). She calls color boosters "one of the nicest tools a colorist has to offer the client." Here's her advice:
- Only use products designed to enhance your existing color. For example, don't try a red enhancer on your blonde hair, says Minardi, or you'll risk a highly unattractive and theatrical result, which, while not permanent, may not wash out for several days!
- Look for enhancers that are plant based and contain no ammonia, peroxide or alcohol '- ingredients that open the hair cuticle and change the color chemically.
- A color enhancing hair product alone will not cover gray, although Fekkai's Color Correcting Shampoo will eliminate yellow in gray or silver hair.
- As a general rule, you'll want to use the color enhancer every third or fourth time you wash your hair.
- Always use a moisturizing shampoo like Goldwell's Rich Care between color enhancers to keep hair hydrated.
- Because sun is the main color fader, Marsha Cole, director of artistic education for HCX (Hair Color Experts) Salons, recommends you wear a hat or scarf when you plan on spending long hours outdoors.
- If covering up isn't your thing, Minardi recommends you build deeper color dimension prior to sun exposure by asking your colorist to lowlight or paint your hair with a shade deeper than your natural color. This way, the softly deepened strands will give the illusion that your hair color isn't fading as it counteracts the sun's effects.
- Products that contain ultraviolet absorbers will further protect against the fading influences of the sun.
- Apply a finishing product with shine to impart additional depth and luminosity.
Product Recommendations by Color
For warm and red tones, Minardi recommends Aveda's Madder Root shampoo (Aveda.com), which will heighten the color and keep the intensity. For clearer platinum blondes, Goldwell's Live Blonde Color Glow (GoldwellUSA.com) will give vivid, shiny reflections. For brown hair, we like Fekkai's Brilliant Brown (Frederic.com), which richly enlivens chestnut to espresso brown. And for black hair, Jason's Black Hair Temporary Shampoo (Jason-Natural.com) creates depth and intensity.