Me: Lemme fuckin’ tell you how to make dyes such as Arctic Fox Hair Color last basically as long as you want. (#notsponz but get @me, AF. Jk. But not really.)
Keeping unnatural hair colors fresh to death is not the easiest work. It’s not necessarily hard work, but it’s work. Following my disclaimer I will get right in to it, and you can enjoy your lovely colored locks with minimal fading until you’re ready to change colors.
Disclaimer: I am by no means a licensed hair colorist or stylist. However, I am a professional fuck up, and have been dying my hair for 15yrs+ now. I also have a lot, A LOT, of time on my hands to figure this stuff out. Also, affiliate links will contain an asterisk*
Forewarning: These are tips for hair already processed with bleach. A lot of color longevity depends on how porous your hair is. Natural hair is less porous. Ideally to keep colors a while you want to find a sweet spot where your hair has been through hell but still has a good attitude.
Absolutely avoid the ingredient SLS (read as sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate on product labels) in shampoos (as well as some conditioners? Looking at you, Lush) at all costs. Why? Because it’s actually a harsh detergent. If you just read detergent and thought of dish wash or laundry detergent you wouldn’t be far off. One or both are also claimed to be a major irritant and can even lead to hair loss? I’m no rocket scientist so I cannot back these claims, but I can absolutely tell you harsh detergents are the number one reason your hair color is fading. Basically anything that suds up is going to want to not only clean your hair but it’s going to take your color with it. So get yourself an SLS-free (also known as sulfate free) shampoo, I love SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo* but shop around. Find your holy grail and what works for you. For me, I have dry and deceptively curly hair, so I actually prefer cleansing conditioners, also known as co-washes. You can use any cheap light conditioner or products formulated specifically as co-washes like As I Am Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner*. Again, shop around. Try different products, but most importantly read ingredient labels.
I promise you when you make the switch you will see so much less bleeding.
I hate this one the most, I truly do. Unfortunately it’s the second most important one, if not the first, but I really, really, hate this one. Anyway, don’t wash your hair in hot water. Don’t rinse your hair in hot water. Just don’t think of hot water on your hair ever again.
What happens is, hot water allegedly opens the cuticles on your hair shaft. Just letting color bleed on out as it pleases. Cold water does the opposite, it keeps your cute little cuticles closed. That way whatever cleansing method you choose is even less likely to take color along with it. Instead it’ll clean just the top layer of your hair, leaving more of the good, including your color.
Keep in mind I mentioned rinsing as well, so that means conditioner for the same reasons as above. You might think then that your conditioner won’t penetrate the hair shaft as well because the cuticle is effectively close, but that’s not true if you’ve got a good conditioner. A good conditioner with small enough particles will find a way to penetrate your hair one way or another. Honestly I have no fucking clue how this science all works out, but you’ll notice your hair will feel silkier as well. That’s because the cuticles aren’t being aggravated every time you wash. Hair is dead yes, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be aggravated. Have you seen Game of Thrones? Those wights are damn near always pissed. Not to mention whatever is dead may never die. Except your curl pattern when you’ve bleached it 8 fucking times, that shits definitely super dead. I digress, I am writing this during Game of Thrones season, but the point is you need to have a talk with your hair and convince it to break up with hot water.
But I don’t want to take cold showers! Yeah, me neither. I’m convinced cold showers are for masochists, serial murderers, and warrior types that feel they have something to prove. Or, people who are really passionate about health, skincare, and hair. While I am obviously also passionate about these things I draw the line at cold showers. So, your solution is putting your hair up when you shower and protecting it from the water stream as best you can. “But then when am I going to wash my hair!” you may ask, and the answer is whenever the hell you want. You can right after your shower, before (though not recommended because with hot water your scalp may get a bit sweaty) or truly just whenever. The trick is to go old school, use your bathtub’s faucet, or your sink. That way only your scalp and hands have to suffer the cold water. In winter you may find this insufferable but in summer it’s truly refreshing. Now you can also use the excuse “I can’t go out, I’m washing my hair.” I consider this the biggest bonus, maintaining your hair color a bonus.
Adding The Dye to Conditioner
This is a fun one. You can buy already formulated conditioners for this product such as Overtone, but it’ll cost you a pretty penny. If you’d like to be kinder to your wallet then you can take whatever dye you’ve been using and add a fair amount to your conditioner, or deep conditioner (the best “vehicle” for the dye. Optimal penetration, my guy.) My favorite deep conditioners for this are SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque* and Carol’s Daughter Rhassoul Clay*
The amount of dye, and how frequently you use this method is up to you. Do you not mind wearing gloves or having possible staining every time you condition or deep condition your hair? Then go crazy, add a bunch of dye. Are you looking for less clean up and clean hands? Or going for the pastel look? Add much, much less. You’ll know after a few tries when you’ve found your sweet spot. Don’t give up (if you truly want to maintain this color.) It’s all about the trial & error. Embrace it. Just make sure it’s silicone free conditioner for the best results. I feel like silicones get to the hair strands before the dye so they apply unevenly as the color cannot penetrate. Not to mention they build up & require SLS based shampoos to strip them. So they’re kind of your enemy just like SLS shampoos are.
Wash Your Hair Less
The cold hard truth is that semi-permanent dyes are just that, semi-permanent. They don’t want to marry your hair, they’re here for a good time not a long time. That’s okay, cause with every bottle of veggie based hair colors you’re getting another good time whether it’s more of the same or another experience all together.
If you’ve noticed a theme of washing your hair is what’s causing your hair to fade then you’d be right on point. That’s absolutely your main enemy no matter what you do. So, stop washing as often. If you think that’s gross then you need to rethink clean. When did the oils that we naturally produce become unclean? When did sweat become such an enemy we need to banish? I have no goddamn idea, but I do know my hair and scalp are much happier now that I wash my hair less.
Dry shampoo and embracing your oils is about to be your new best friend. I don’t have any to recommend, I just use dusting powder. There are so many options out there, or you can even make your own. It’s all up to you, this is your journey.
My guides are:
1. are my roots more oily than I’m comfortable with? Hit that shit with dry shampoo or dusting powder.
2. does my scalp smell mildly funky? Dry shampoo or dusting powder.
3. has my hair held on to the fried food or bar smell? remedy that shit with a spritz or shower of something like Pacifica Alcohol Free Body & Hair Mist* in the fragrance of your liking.
4. is my scalp feeling like a dirty and itchy girl? Wash.
SLS & silicones super bad, wash and rinse in cold water always, try adding dye to your conditioners, & lastly, wash your hair WAY less than you are now.
Semi-permanent colors are named for a reason, they’re meant to gradually wash out. Essentially if you get a good one like Arctic Fox*they’re pigments with conditioning ingredients. They are a one step process, lacking any and all damaging products such as developer. Instead they actually coat the hair strands, and penetrate a bit if you’ve got yourself porous hair. Which is all a beautiful thing if you get bored and like to switch it up frequently, because they’re (mostly) easy to remove without damage.
I understand it is annoying to have to go through the whole re-dye process when you’ve found your signature color. So, I hope my overly wordy tips have helped you.
I’d love to see your results in the comments, & I’m always happy to answer questions here or on Instagram.
I’m sure eventually I will overhaul this with pictures, but right now I just want to get the info out. Or hell, I may even rewrite it because what the fuck am I even doing publishing anything.