The unexpected ways you’re ruining your hair colour

And how to make sure you extend the life of it

Beauty Crew Editor / May 25 2017

Imagine this scenario: you’ve just walked out of the hair salon with a fresh colour, and you feel fabulous. Cut to two weeks later and suddenly the shine’s gone and it’s dull, or any blonde has gone brassy and lifeless; it’s not what you forked over your hard-earned cash for.

Well, before you start cursing your hairdresser, the technique, or the products that were used, it’s important to understand how some of your daily habits could be compromising your hair colour.

We spoke to some of the industry’s top experts to get the low-down on the unexpected things that are ruining your colour, and what you can do to prolong the vibrancy. 

# 1 / Your hair tool

You may be well aware that heat styling can cause damage to the health of your hair, but did you know that the exposure to extreme heat is compromising your colour, too?

According to Lauren McCowan, Creative Director at Haircare Australia and Cloud Nine Ambassador, if you’re using a hair tool that’s too hot, it can burn your toner and any treatment that’s in your hair, meaning your colour will lose its oomph very quickly. So whether you’ve got platinum blonde locks or subtle ombre, it’s important to use heat styling tools that allow you to adjust the temperature gauge to make sure the heat can be managed, and always prep your hair with a heat protection product. 

Toolkit: Cloud Nine Iron; L’Oréal Paris ELVIVE Smooth Intense Heat Protect Cream; Beachwaver Pro

Cloud Nine Iron

L’Oréal Paris ELVIVE Smooth Intense Heat Protect Cream

Beachwaver Pro

#2 / Swimming

Whether your preference is a dip in the ocean or laps in the pool, both chlorine and saltwater can contribute to colour loss. And according to Tarryn Cherniayeff, Hair Director and Co-founder of MOB HAIR, blondes and redheads need to be particularly careful when it comes to swimming.

Blondes need to be careful of chorine turning the hair a murky green. Redheads need to be careful of chlorine and swimming due to colour fading, but at the end of the day any coloured hair that is artificial needs to be taken care of in the correct way to ensure its longevity and vibrancy. If you swim a lot, I would definitely use a leave-in treatment, whether that’s an oil or a mask - coconut oil is a favourite of mine at the moment.”

TOP TIP: Before swimming, saturate your hair with tap water. This will reduce the absorption of the salt or chlorine.

Aveda Color Conserve Daily Color Protect

Kevin.Murphy Staying.Alive

Kérastase Elixir Ultime

#3/ Washing your hair too much

When asked about one of the biggest contributors to colour loss and fade, Denis De Souza Joico’s celebrity colourist has put it down to “Shampooing it too often.” He explains, “Once you’ve touched someone’s hair with bleach and colour, you open the cuticles”. This leaves your hair vulnerable to harsh shampoo formula stripping it of colour and moisture. Besides trying to reduce how often you wash your hair, De Souza says using a sulphate-free shampoo and conditioner for colour-treated hair is important, as well as using a colour balancing product suited to your hair colour every 10 days to reinvigorate and refresh the colour. 

Toolkit: Joico Colour Balance range; Pureology Hydrate range; bhave Blonde Shampoo

Joico Colour Balance range

Pureology Hydrate range

bhave Blonde Shampoo

#4 / Not using the right products

While your efforts of stocking up on every colour-protecting product under the sun may be valiant, if they’re not right for your hair type, they could actually lead to your colour’s demise. “I don't think your routine needs to be particularly complex, but ensuring you have the right shampoo and conditioner is the first mistake people make. If you have a shampoo that's too heavy, you’re going to feel like you need to wash it more. And if it's not nourishing enough, you’re going to feel like you need to overuse your heat tools and that's not good for any one,” says Cherniayeff. 

Your best bet is to talk to your hairdresser during your colour appointment to see what kind of shampoo and conditioner (and other after-care products) they recommend for your hair.


Hair looking a little worse-for-wear? You could be making one of these common heat styling mistakes.

Image credit: Getty

Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.