coloured hair
Prolong your permanent hair dye with a shampoo that doesn't bleed the colour with every wash. Image Credit: Unsplash/rosalye simard

If you want your freshly coloured hair to maintain that day-one vibrancy, then swap your regular shampoo for a special one. It doesn't matter what treatment you've opted for - whether a balayage, a full head of blonde or subtle highlights - because aftercare will determine long-lasting results. Processed hair needs hydration and colour-locking ingredients, so that your dye doesn't run every time you shower. Our hair experts weigh in on why a colour-safe shampoo is essential.

Does coloured hair need special shampoo?

A Dubai-based professional hair artist tells Gulf News that specially formulated shampoos are a no-brainer, if you've coloured your hair. Doina Chiper, creative colourist and hair stylist, said: "Specific shampoos and hair care products are necessary, especially if the dye is vibrant or the hair is bleached, since the lack of melanin increases sensitivity. These products will help the colour last longer, and keep the hair looking shiny and hydrated."

By design, permanent hair dyes are meant to alter the structure of the hair. It's how the colour is deposited into the shaft. Naturally, this invasive change can result in mild hair damage, or severe damage, if we colour our hair frequently. Some common signs are dry, brittle and dull tresses.

dyed hair
Hair dyes alter the hair shaft, which can cause mild dryness and brittleness. Image Credit: Pexels/Maria Geller

"Permanent hair colours usually contain ammonia, which lifts the cuticle (outer layer) of the hair to coat the protein cortex (inner layer) with the dye," explained Dr Shubhangi Perkar, specialist dermatologist, MD, at the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital, Dubai. "Other components include hydrogen peroxide that bleaches the existing colour, and the chemical colourant paraphenylenediamine (PPD) or PPD-like substances. All of these cause dryness in the hair, resulting in breakage and dullness."

In this fragile state, the hair needs extra nourishment, and less of oil-stripping ingredients. And so, colour-safe shampoos usually do away with sulfates. These cleansing agents create lather and break down dirt, but they also remove oil from the scalp. Dr Perkar says sulfates can cause further dryness in visibly damaged coloured hair, and even strip away the colour.

Which shampoo is best for coloured hair?

A good shampoo for coloured hair will lock in the dye, add intense hydration and strengthen the hair strands. Keep an eye out for formulas that contain hydrating oils, fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins, added Dr Perkar.

Some sulfate-free shampoos will opt for plant-derived surfactants, instead, which are not as harsh on the strands, such as glucoside. Another beneficial ingredient is amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

Julie Signore, a senior hair stylist at 306 Spa in Jumeirah, Dubai, with over 20 years of colouring experience, said: "Amino acids repair and restore the hair shaft, so that the colour doesn't wash off. They also help with adding gloss and hydration to the hair."

Besides colour-safe shampoos, don't forget to follow up with a moisturising conditioner and rinse off with cold water. Dr Perkar also suggests hair masks and serums to protect your dyed locks from heat and sun damage, oiling your hair and regularly trimming the tips.

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We've gathered recommendations from our experts, along with the best-rated colour-safe shampoos on Amazon, and compiled them into an easy-to-browse list below. Sign up for a Prime membership to score free, fast delivery, and check out more from Super Saver Week.

1. Best Overall: Olapex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo, 250ml

Reviewers with bleached, chemically processed hair, vouch for the Olaplex No.4 shampoo, which is also Dr Perkar's pick. Not only is the vegan formula free of sulfates, it's also paraben-, nut- and gluten-free. With a colour-safe composition, the shampoo works for all hair types, but is specifically designed to nourish and clean stressed-out locks. Olaplex's patented bond builder repairs damaged hair at a molecular level, and restores your original shine. Buyers suggest pairing it with the Olaplex No.5 conditioner for the best results, adding that their hair is now less prone to breakage. It even tames frizz caused by bleaching.

2. Best for Fine Hair: Kérastase Chroma Absolu, Hydrating and Protective Shampoo, 250ml

Pro hairstylist Signore recommends Kerastase's Chroma Absolu range to her clients at the salon. She said: "The Chroma Absolu shampoo is great for coloured hair - there are no sulfates, the colour lasts longer, and it hydrates and protects the hair." The lightweight formula, ideal for fine to medium hair types, is enriched with strengthening amino acid, sealing lactic acid and soothing centella asiatica. Reviewers who have fine coloured hair leave five stars, and say that it doesn't weigh their hair down. They find that their dye looks more vibrant after washes.

3. Best for Colour Protection: L'Oreal Professionnel Vitamino Colour Shampoo

Often spotted in salons, the L'Oreal Vitamino Color shampoo contains a colour-protecting antioxidant, resveratrol. Dr Perkar also highlights panthenol or vitamin B5, which adds hydration to the hair. However, do note that it features sulfates as its cleansing agent. Reviewers love how soft, manageable and nourished their coloured hair feels, thanks to the shampoo. They've managed to maintain their highlights, streaks and regular dye for months, without any noticeable fading.

4. Best for Damaged Hair: K18 Peptide Prep pH Maintenance Hair Shampoo, 250ml

A pH-balanced shampoo maintains your scalp's microbiome, relaxes the hair cuticles and helps preserve colour better. The K18 Peptide Prep does just that, while breaking down dirt and oil, by using plant-based cleansers. Formulated with a total of 18 ingredients, the patented K18Peptide technology reverses chemical hair damage in the cortex. This means the shampoo strengthens strands and retains elasticity to keep your hair from breaking. Reviewers mention how it leaves their brittle, damaged hair feeling squeaky clean, without over-stripping the locks. If you style your coloured hair frequently, this shampoo can get rid of all the buildup.

5. Best for Blonde Hair: Redken Lightening Shampoo, 300ml

Snag this pick-me-up shampoo for blonde highlights, balayage or full hair. Redken's Blondage High Bright Shampoo restores brightness with vitamin C and the brand's own four per cent brightening complex. It's the perfect product to use between touch-up appointments for maintenance. Thanks to its antioxidant properties, any dullness caused by pollution and buildup in the hair will be instantly lifted, revealing a brighter blonde tone. Buyers say they've successfully managed to strip away the odd 'grey' hue, so much so, their old highlights seem renewed.

6. Best for Bleached Hair: Alfaparf Milano Semi Di Lino Moisture Nutritive Sulfate-Free Shampoo

For a hydration boost, your bleached, coloured hair will appreciate the rich, creamy lather of Alfaparf's Semi Di Lino shampoo. Free from sulfates and parabens, the product uses honey nutri-sugars that attract water into the hair shafts, and rehydrate your dry locks. It protects the hair colour from pollution, with antioxidants and a UV filter complex. Harnessing the power of flax seed extracts, the shampoo also adds long-lasting gloss. Reviewers with dry, frizzy hair initially picked up the bottle on recommendation from their hairdresser. They leave rave reviews on how moisturising the formula is, for detangling.

7. Best Dry Shampoo: Perfect hair Day (PhD) Dry Shampoo

If you prefer fewer washes per week to prolong your dye, alternate with a dry shampoo. The Living Proof Perfect hair Day (PhD) was our best pick for chemically treated hair, because it doesn't contain any sulfates, talc, silicones or parabens. Without water and shampoo, the product absorbs oil and sweat buildup. Those with bright hair colours leave five-star reviews, saying that they avoid frequent shampooing to stop the dye from bleeding and found relief with PhD. They report noticeable volume and no powdery residue, whether their hair is dark or light.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.