So, you’ve just dyed your hair. Whether you did it to cover gray hairs, to intensify your natural shade, or even to signal a serious life change, one thing is true: now that you’ve done it, there’s nothing more important than keeping your color looking glossy and vibrant. That means, of course, washing your hair as rarely as possible (water is your color’s worst enemy), and making sure that you use color-safe shampoo whenever you do wash it. Curious? Then keep reading to learn more about the best shampoos for dyed and color-treated hair you can get your hands on.
(Did you go blonde? Then don’t forget to look through the best purple shampoos for blonde hair!)
On this post:
- What is a color-safe shampoo?
- How do you know if your shampoo is color safe?
- Do you really need a special shampoo for color-treated hair?
- What happens if you don’t use color-safe shampoo?
- What shampoos should you avoid with color-treated hair?
- Our top 10 favorite color-safe shampoos
What is a color-safe shampoo?
Here’s the thing: “color-safe shampoo” isn’t a technical term. It’s a marketing term you will often see applied to shampoos that work well with dyed hair. But what’s so special about these shampoos? What is it that makes them “color-safe”?
Color-safe shampoos tend to have milder formulas, use gentle surfactants (they may be sulfate-free, but they don’t have to be), and feature a slightly acidic pH. These characteristics make these shampoos less likely to chip away at your hair color. Many color-safe shampoos also include nourishing and repairing ingredients that help counteract the damage the hair has suffered from being dyed. This is especially important if you have bleached your hair.
However, there are other shampoos that are also suitable for color-treated hair. If you already use a very mild shampoo without sulfates, for example, you may not need to switch to a special shampoo for color-treated hair.
How do you know if your shampoo is color safe?
As we’ve mentioned, “color-safe” isn’t an absolute technical standard. However, if you’d like to make sure your shampoo is kind on your dyed hair, here are some things you can look for:
Surfactants, or cleansing agents, get a bad rap, but they’re extremely useful. Without surfactants, your shampoo wouldn’t do such a good job of cleansing your hair. However, surfactants are also responsible for some of the color fade you experience after washing your hair.
You can avoid some of this color fade by picking shampoos with mild surfactants. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), for example, is a very effective surfactant that may be a little too stripping on your hair color; cocamidopropyl betaine, a milder surfactant, may be a better option.
Plenty of people like to use sulfate-free shampoos (meaning, shampoos that don’t include any sulfates, which are a type of surfactant). You don’t necessarily have to look for a sulfate-free shampoo, but it’s a popular option.
You may notice that many color-safe shampoos mention the matter of pH. Your hair is naturally acidic, with a pH value of around 4.5; hair dyes, however, can be seriously alkaline, with a pH that can be as high as 11.0 for permanent colors. They need to be, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to penetrate the hair cuticle and actually color your hair. This is why you will find many color-safe shampoos that work to rebalance the pH or your hair, bringing it back down to its optimal pH value.
Coloring your hair can be a damaging process; this is why many color-safe shampoos feature deeply repairing formulas that will not only maintain your color, but also work deep in the hair fiber to repair any existing damage.
If you’re on the hunt for some nourishing and repairing ingredients for you hair, look for shampoos that feature glycerin, argan oil, shea butter, or keratin.
Do you really need a special shampoo for color-treated hair?
If you’ve just dyed your hair, you may be wondering if you need to use a special shampoo on your new color. The answer is complicated: yes, but, at the same time, no.
Using a color-safe shampoo is just one of the many things you can do to extend the life of your color. You should wash your hair less often, use cold or lukewarm water, avoid heat styling tools, etc. If you’re already doing all of these things, a color-safe shampoo might just be the missing piece in your routine.
If, on the other hand, you’re exposing your color-treated hair to various aggressions on a daily basis–say, you swim three times a week, use heat styling every day, and use clarifying shampoos on the regular–, a color-safe shampoo may not be enough to rescue your hair color. It can help minimize the color fade you experience after washing your hair, but that’s all it will accomplish.
What happens if you don’t use color-safe shampoo?
If you dye your hair and don’t use color-safe shampoo… nothing terrible will happen. Worst case scenario, your color will fade or shift slightly. Blonde colors may turn a little yellow, browns may turn a little orange or reddish, reds will just fade and fade and fade. Pastels will most definitely fade, but that’s what they do anyway–no hair color is forever!
In the grand scheme of things, color fade isn’t such a big deal. However, considering that dying your hair can be such an investment, you may want to keep your color vibrant and true for as long as possible. That’s where color-safe shampoo–and a series of other hair care tips–can help.
What shampoos should you avoid with color-treated hair?
Just as there are shampoos that work well on color-treated hair, there are also shampoos that you should avoid. Among those, we’d like to bring up clarifying shampoos, those incredibly refreshing shampoos that remove product build-up and reset your hair.
Clarifying shampoos can be fantastic, especially if you use a lot of styling products, or have a bit of an oilier scalp, but, because they provide such an intense cleanse, they may also wash out quite a bit of your hair color. If you must use them, try to do it as rarely as possible.
Our top 10 favorite color-safe shampoos
We’ve taken a bit of a dive into the world of color-safe shampoo; now it’s time to show you some of the best shampoos for dyed and color-treated hair we’ve come across. Are you ready to find your new shampoo?
Phyto Color Radiance Enhancer Shampoo
The botanical shampoo
If you’re in the market for a plant-based color-safe shampoo that will protect and revive the radiance of color-treated and highlighted hair, Phyto Color Radiance Enhancer Shampoo is a great option–it’s 90% natural!
This shampoo features a duo of active ingredients with an exceptional protective action; we’re talking about tara tannins and sunflower sprout extracts, two ingredients that not only provide a powerful antioxidant action, but also limit the deterioration of the hair pigment. Rice peptides, the secret ingredient, form a protective barrier around the hair fiber and help preserve the color for as long as 12 washes! This shampoo is also rich in white mallow extract, another botanical ingredient that promotes shiny, luscious locks.
Revlon Professional Re/Start Color Protective Gentle Cleanser
The scalp-balance shampoo for dyed hair
Don’t be fooled by the name of this “gentle cleanser”: it’s a sulfate-free shampoo, and a great shampoo at that. Formulated with a double focus on the hair and scalp, this shampoo does more than just protect color-treated hair; it also helps rebalance the scalp microbiome. If you’re the kind of person whose scalp gets a little angry after hair coloring, this shampoo might just be the solution for you.
But let’s back to the hair: with KERABIOTIC OXI GUARD™ technology and açai extract, this shampoo protects color-treated hair by reducing hair porosity and promoting a shiny, smooth finish.
René Furterer Okara Color Protection Shampoo
The naturally luxe shampoo
Shampoos for color-treated hair can feel a little joyless and overly technical sometimes, but not this one. With a refined floral fragrance and a generously foamy lather, René Furterer Okara Color Protection Shampoo creates the perfect balance of pleasurable application and color-safe hair washing.
This shampoo contains 100% natural-origin active ingredients. Among them is okara extract, a plant-based active ingredient obtained from soya beans that resembles the keratin naturally found in the hair. Because it contains powerful amino acids, okara extract is able to restructure and repair hair weakened by dying and processing. As a result, it captures and preserves color at the core of the hair and prolongs its radiance for up to 8 weeks.
Redken Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo
The secret to long-lasting hair color
The Redken Color Extend Magnetics Shampoo is a part of Redken’s line of SMART haircare products. These use a three-protein complex of soy protein, arginine and sepicap that protects your color. With a mild cleansing base, this shampoo won’t dry out the hair or strip it of any natural oils essential to keeping the hair healthy and the color vibrant.
This is the ideal shampoo for those with healthy color-treated hair who aren’t necessarily looking for damage control, but still want to extend the longevity of their color.
Klorane Color Radiance Shampoo with Pomegranate
The gentle shampoo with antioxidant benefits
Especially formulated for recuperating color-treated hair, this shampoo cleanses gently while reviving the color.
The key ingredient in this shampoo, pomegranate extract, is exceptionally rich in tannins; these strengthen the bond between the hair fiber and the new pigments, guaranteeing long-lasting color. The peel of the pomegranate is also rich in polyphenols, natural super-antioxidants that protect your color from external aggressions.
Fanola After Colour Care Shampoo
The best affordable shampoo for dyed hair
Coloring your hair can be an investment, but there are still plenty of affordable shampoos out there to help you preserve your color: the Fanola After Colour Care Shampoo is one of our favorites among them. Formulated with vitamin E and linseed oil, this shampoo features an antioxidant-rich formula that helps maintain the intensity, brightness, and shine of color-treated hair.
With its slightly acidic pH of 5.5, this shampoo also offers a protective action, helping the hair resist some of the main causes of color fading, such as pollution and solar radiation.
Lazartigue Colour Protect Radiance Protection Shampoo
The repairing shampoo for first-timers
This natural and vegan-friendly shampoo from Lazartigue is all about inverting the damage that coloring does to the hair, all the while prolonging the longevity of your color. The vegan formula features an acidic pH that seals the hair cuticle, therefore protecting the heart of the hair fiber. As a result, the hair maintains its smooth and glossy appearance for longer.
Enriched with camellia oil and flower extracts, this shampoo is ideal to begin caring for color-treated hair from the moment it is first dyed. As it provides a gentle cleansing action, it doesn’t strip the hair of its essential moisture. Instead, the uniquely softening combination of natural ingredients hydrates the hair while maintaining the richness of the hair color.
L’Oréal Professionnel Série Expert Vitamino Color Shampoo
The salon-worthy shampoo
This isn’t just one of the best shampoos for dyed and color-treated hair out there: it’s also one of the bestsellers from L’Oréal Professionnel. Enriched with resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant polyphenol, this shampoo will protect your color from fading for up to 8 weeks. At the same time, it will protect and repair the hair fiber, leaving your hair lighter, softer to the touch, and a lot easier to manage and style.
There’s never been a better way to achieve salon-worthy hair without setting foot in the salon!
Schwarzkopf BC pH 4.5 Color Freeze Shampoo
The color-locking shampoo
Schwarzkopf BC pH 4.5 Color Freeze Shampoo is a gentle color-locking shampoo that helps you prolong and maximize the intensity of your hair color between salon visits. Unlike traditional color care products, this shampoo doesn’t just seal the hair cuticle in order to prevent pigments from leaching out; instead, it acts deep within the hair strand with the exclusive pH 4.5 Balancer technology. This patented innovation not only restores the hair to its optimal pH value, but actually stabilizes and strengthens the hair matrix. As a result, it keeps the color pigments locked inside the hair.
Gentle enough to be used every day, this micellar shampoo helps you achieve stronger, more resilient hair with minimal color fade. Your locks appear as vibrant as they did on day one—and remain that way!
Kérastase Chroma Absolu Bain Riche Chroma Respect Shampoo
The color-safe shampoo for thick hair
If your hair is on the thicker side, you may struggle to find color-safe shampoos that work for your hair texture. We’re here to show you one: the Kérastase Chroma Absolu Bain Riche Chroma Respect Shampoo. This is a rich, nourishing shampoo that’s been specifically developed for fragile and damaged hair.
The combination of lactic acid and Centella asiatica, key ingredients in this formula, helps seal the hair fiber, reducing its porosity and smoothing the hair surface. While this helps the hair retain color, it also helps reduce frizz and promote a smooth, uniform shine, with color that remains intense for up to 6 weeks.
Now that we’ve shown you a selection of color-safe shampoos, there’s no excuse for letting your dyed hair fade! Preserving your hair color can be a challenge, but it’s nothing you won’t be handle with a good dose of patience, some hair care tips, and, of course, the right shampoo for dyed hair. Good luck on your hair care journey!
Beauty Writer & Editor