By CAROLYN BRUNDAGE
Special to the Times
You wouldn't dream of throwing your favorite silk shirt in the washer daily with scalding water and a generous helping of bleach, but many women don't think twice about washing their color-treated hair with harsh detergents, zealous frequency and hot water.
Not unlike silk, color-treated hair needs to be cared for delicately or locks will end up damaged, dried out and dull. Here's how to care for color-treated hair to maintain shine, bounce and health, plus my top three shampoos and conditioners for color-treated hair, culled from the 41 brands I tested myself.
Believe it or not, plain old H20 is one of the main causes of color fade, which is why washing color-treated hair less frequently can result in longer-lasting color. Water draws color from hair strands, meaning that each time you forego a wash, that color you invested in lives another day. (In fact, when color is new, wait two days after visiting the salon to wash hair for the first time.) To minimize color loss, wash hair three times a week, eradicating any oiliness between washes with a dry shampoo.
Experts agree that color-treated hair should be protected from chlorine. But who wants to wear a swim cap? Instead, wet hair with tap water before swimming so it doesn't absorb too much pool water. Also, comb a leave-in conditioner through damp locks pre-dip to create a protective barrier around the hair shaft.
It's a wash
Finding a great shampoo and conditioner for color-treated hair is all about the ingredients. For starters, avoid harsh detergents, often called surfactants. Other harsh chemicals that may strip color include sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium sulfate and sodium chloride as well as paraben preservatives.
When in doubt, simply grab one of my top three color-safe shampoos and conditioners:
Carolyn Brundage is the founder of TampaBay.PrettyCity.com, a guide to all that is hip and happening in local beauty. Need beauty advice? E-mail Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best Salon Collection
Liqwd Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner
It's not cheap — $64 for the pair — but Liqwd's Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner with ColorLife Technology promises to serve and protect color-treated locks from radiant reds to buttery blonds and beyond. UV filters in the products defend color while hair is also shielded against heat, breakage and even frizz. Find retailers or shop online at liqwd.com.
Best Certified Organic Hair Care
John Masters Organics Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructing Shampoo and Treatment
John Masters is a green-movement pioneer who began mixing organic essential oils and herbs in his kitchen sink and went on to craft certified organic skin care, hair care, body care and pet care products sold in more than 20 countries. Safe for color-treated hair, the Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructing Shampoo and Treatment boasts an abundance of linolenic and hyaluronic acids, paired with soy, rice and oat proteins that repair damaged hair. Get them for about $26 each at johnmasters.com and at Bloom Organics in Sarasota.
Best Bargain Buy
Burt's Bees Color Keeper Green Tea & Fennel Seed Shampoo and Conditioner
Burt's Bee's sulfate-free Color Keeper shampoo won't lather at all because it's free of sodium laurel sulfate, a harsh chemical responsible for the "bubbling" many of us have become accustomed to. Skip the bubbles, keep the color; the shampoo and conditioner sell for about $8 each at local drugstores.