AFTER A GOOD HAIRCUT, hair color is the biggest investment you can make to maintain your mane year-round. Particularly now, in the depths of winter, color-treated hair can be showing signs of strain: dry, dull, fading fast. What’s a grown-up girl to do?
We spoke with international celebrity colorist Rita Hazan for words of wisdom.
GA: Rita, is there anyone left who doesn’t color their hair?
RH: This makes me laugh out loud! No. Even kids color their hair these days.
GA: Is there any kind of hair type or texture that should NOT be color-treated?
RH: No. You just have to be careful if the hair is fragile.
GA: How does color affect the health of the hair? Can it actually improve it?
RH: It’s definitely a myth that color damages hair. It’s not the color, it’s the person using the color. It doesn’t matter what color you use; all color is a little bit harsh on the hair because you are changing the naturalness of the hair. Color gives hair volume and plumps the cuticle, while glosses can make hair look shiny.
GA: How is color-treated hair different from virgin hair in terms of choosing the right shampoo and conditioner?
RH: People with color-treated hair need to use shampoos and conditioners especially for color-treated hair because others are too harsh. It makes a big difference. It is important to use a sulfate-free shampoo because others can be stripping. Dandruff shampoos also have a stripping agent unless it says it is for color-treated hair. If you change shampoo you might see a 90 percent difference in how long your color lasts. You can use any shampoo or conditioner that says “color protecting” because they all have similar ingredients that help preserve color. Color-safe shampoos usually have a complex in them that is specific to keep the color from fading and getting dull.
GA: Where have people gone wrong when they say they have color damage?
RH: It’s the person who must know how to control the damage. The colorist is in charge of the color process and over-processing should never happen with a skilled colorist. Some people over-color their hair. Every three or four weeks will cause damage. You have to respect the process. Overlapping and continuing to color the same hair over and over again – hair doesn’t need to be colored all the time; retouching the roots is fine. Also, not conditioning and not using the right [at-home] products is damaging.
GA: What causes color depletion and how can we stop or delay it between treatments?
RH: A lot of fading happens naturally through washing as it strips color. It naturally happens over time and the vibrancy fades away. You have to maintain the color at home. You have to do treatments and use good shampoos and conditioners. You can also use my Ultimate Shine Color Gloss because it will prevent fading while also keeping the hair shiny and healthy.
GA: How (if at all) does a single process versus highlights affect color duration and overall hair health?
RH: Single process is the least harsh and damaging on the hair. It is done with either semi-permanent or permanent color. Highlights are typically done with bleach to give you the extra lift without turning orange.
GA: In terms of maintaining hair health, is there any difference between foil highlights and balayage?
RH: I only use foils because it’s less damaging to the hair long term, and it’s faster.
GA: What effect does sunlight have on colored hair? How can we prevent UV damage?
RH: UV rays do the same to your hair as they do to the skin. It gets dehydrated and loses its vitamins, and then you lose the pigment. Use products that have SPF and UV protection. Apply to hair a few times while in the sun – it protects hair just as you would put SPF on to protect your skin.
GA: When looking for a colorist, what qualities or credentials should people be looking for?
RH: If you see someone and like their color, ask who does it. Also, when you call a salon, the person who answers the phone can direct you. Ask them who the best person is for what you’re looking to get. Educate yourself as much as possible then research that person. You don’t have to book right then. You can look on Instagram; a lot of people post their work.
GA: What are your favorite shampoo and conditioner brands for color-treated hair? And how important is a weekly moisturizing mask?
RH: I love Shu Uemura and Inphenom. A weekly moisturizing mask is important because you are only at the salon every two months so you have to maintain your hair at home. Between shampoo, straightening and blow-drying, you have to add nutrition back into the hair from torturing it at home.
Below are some product recommendations to help keep your colored tresses as vibrant and healthy as long as possible. All are botanically based and sulfate- and paraben-free. You’ll get the best results by using shampoos and conditioners from the same family – they’re meant to work hand-in-hand – so they’re grouped accordingly.
Aveda Color Conserve Shampoo ($8-$63) and Aveda Color Conserve Conditioner ($8-$79) are plant-infused and organically fragranced. The lavender soothes and refreshes; and ylang ylang smells great and helps lock in color and shine.
The color-preserving, hydration-boosting, 100 percent vegan duo of ColorProof Evolved Color Care SuperRich Moisture Shampoo and ColorProof Evolved Color Care SuperRich Moisture Condition, each $29.95, contains sunflower seed oil; rosemary and leaf extracts; UVA and UVB protection; and a protein complex for extra strength and repair.
Available in silver, golden, red, chocolate, copper and tobacco sets, each shampoo and conditioner in Davines Alchemic Collection ($24.50-$28.50) targets your specific hair color to impart more color with direct pigments. Provitamin B5 and hydrolyzed milk proteins hydrate and add richness, tonality, and freshness.
Kérastase Réflection Bain Chroma Captive Colour Radiance Protecting Shampoo Colour-Treated Hair ($39) and Kérastase Réflection Chroma Captive System Capture Masque ($62.50) help preserve color depth, smoothness and shine with linseed oil and Vitamin E. The Capture Masque is a bit of a misnomer; it’s actually a super-nourishing conditioner meant to be used after every shampoo.
Oribe Shampoo for Beautiful Color ($14-$132) and Oribe Conditioner for Beautiful Color ($15-$147) pack a gently reparative and hydrating punch with watermelon, lychee and edelweiss flower extracts that shield hair from oxidative stress, photoaging and natural keratin depletion, and protect it from dehydration. Bioflavonoids, which give fruits their brilliant hues, keep hair’s color from fading and discoloration. Baobab tree extract moisturizes parched, over-processed, and color- and chemically-treated tresses. Oh, and it smells like heaven.
Phyto Paris Phytocitrus Color Protect Radiance Shampoo Color-Treated, Highlighted Hair ($8-$22) and Phyto Paris Express Conditioner Color-Treated, Highlighted Hair ($22) have grapefruit extract to seal the cuticle and impart shine; sea buckthorn, whose anti-free radical properties lock in color intensity and prevent fading; sweet almond proteins to help restructure damage; and hydrating elderflower extract to restore softness and suppleness to the capillary fiber. In English, that means added density, body, and shine.
The Shu Uemura Art of Hair Color Lustre Collection of shampoo, conditioner and weekly masque feels, smells and performs like a million bucks, thanks primarily to refining lipids; musk rose oil, rich in fatty acids and Vitamin A to deeply nourish the hair fiber; and Goji berry extract, which helps protect colored hair from fading.