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Buying guide for Best shampoo for colored hair

Do you think of your hair as a crown? If so, then giving it salon-quality treatment on a daily basis is a critical part of your beauty regimen. If you have colored hair, finding the right product to hold its brightness and vibrance is imperative.

Shampoo for colored hair is specially formulated to maintain your color and boost pigment to its best hue. Regular shampoo strips and dries hair; so shampoo for colored hair focuses on gentle cleansing and moisturizing. Make no mistake — you’ll have a clean head of hair after every wash, especially with the shampoo’s unique ability to balance your hair’s pH level. Best of all, it offsets the damage that color can do to hair through strengthening ingredients, UV filters, and moisturizing oils.

Flip your hair with confidence with a bottle of shampoo for colored hair. Here’s our buying guide with the rundown of our top picks and hot tips to keep your mane fresh and vivacious.

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Check the shampoo ingredient list to see if there are allergens that might bother you. Some formulas contain nuts, fish extracts, or parabens, which could cause skin reactions.

Key considerations

How it works

Shampoo for colored hair aims to protect and preserve your color during the cleaning process. The manufacturer may avoid the addition of stripping chemicals (like sulfates) to the formula or add a dye to the formula that gently deposits itself onto the hair with each wash. Because the formula must perform double duty — cleaning the hair and enhancing its color — shampoo for colored hair tends to be more expensive than traditional shampoo.

What to look for

UV filters: UV filters combat the discoloration or bleaching effects that occur when your hair is exposed to the sun’s rays. If the bottle doesn’t specifically advertise a UV filter component, look at the ingredient list for benzophenone-4, which maintains color, and methoxycinnamate, which protects against UVB radiation.

pH balance: Balancing the pH of your hair is especially important when it’s exposed to a permanent product like hair color. For the most part, pH-balanced shampoos for colored hair will be between 5 and 7 on the pH scale. Shampoos with this feature prevent hair from drying out, particularly in the area of the cuticle, which becomes exposed once treated with dye. As a result, hair will be less frizzy and stay moisturized longer.

Moisturizing: Shampoo for colored hair typically has moisturizing ingredients that come in the form of vitamins, proteins, mineral infusions, or essential oils. Moisture is especially important to balance out the formula, as its cleansing agents could be drying on their own.

  • Argan oil, which has grown increasingly popular in shampoo formulas, contains a robust amount of vitamin E and fatty acids that hydrate strands and skin for an overall healthy scalp.
  • Shea butter, like argan oil, has fatty acids and coats hair long after washing to prepare it for heat treatments.
  • Keratin-infused shampoos coat hair with natural proteins that strengthen roots and smooth out breakage along strands.

Sulfate-free: Some shampoo for colored hair is sulfate-free, which means it doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate. While this compound aids in forming a sudsy lather and offers a deep cleaning, it’s notorious for stripping color and drying out hair. Sulfate-free formulas help preserve your natural oils as well as the deposited color. Because it is more gentle on the hair, sulfate-free formulas are also recommended for fine hair, as it is more prone to breakage with color treatment.

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Expert Tip
If your shampoo for colored hair comes in a large bottle, opt for a pump for easy dispensing. A pump will also help minimize mess in the shower.
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Other factors to consider

Hair type

The texture, thickness, and length of your colored hair affects which shampoo you should choose. Those with thin hair find more success with sulfate-free formulas. Those with coarse hair benefit from smoothing and moisturizing formulas.

Frequency of washing

Simply put, the more often you wash your hair, the sooner your hair color will fade or wash away. Limit your washing as much as possible, and try not to deviate from your habit of using a shampoo designed for colored hair.

Type of hair color

Not all hair color is the same. The dye’s permanence affects how quickly it washes out. Permanent color will retain color for a long time, whereas semi-permanent color can be gone in as little as four to six washes.

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Expert Tip
To maximize your results, consider using the matching conditioner that goes with your shampoo.
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Specialized formulas

Color-specific shampoo

There are color-specific shampoos for colored hair. This type of product is worth considering for certain pigments. Blonde and red shampoos are most popular, as these are the hardest pigments to hold on to with washing. The products are specially formulated to work with the common ingredients in blonde and red dyes.

If you’re dying your hair a neon color like blue, pink, or green, your best bet is a color-specific shampoo for colored hair. There are some brands that manufacturer formulas specifically for these colors, but they’re a bit challenging to find.

Volumizing

Volumizing formulas are attractive to those who want to add height and bounce to their hair. However, volumizing shampoos for colored hair should be used sparingly, as they’re often drying and could cause hair to become brittle after prolonged use. Many hair care experts recommend using a volumizing shampoo every few washes to revitalize hair without drying it out.

Purple shampoos

Purple shampoos are used by those who dye their hair either blonde or silver. They reduce brassiness by counteracting yellow with blue tones. Purple shampoos truly revitalize color and boost shine, which is why blondes sing their praises. On the downside, they tend to be extremely drying. To maintain your hair’s moisture, you’ll need to rinse out purple shampoo thoroughly and follow it with an intense conditioner in the shower as well as a leave-in conditioning product.

It’s best to limit the use of purple shampoo to once a week or a couple times a month. Overuse could result in permanent bluish or purplish undertones — a color correction service would be necessary in extreme cases. To avoid the blue undertones from using too much purple shampoo in a single wash, some people prefer to use a quarter-sized amount mixed in with their regular shampoo.

Shampoo for colored hair: prices

Shampoo for colored hair costs between $6 and $50 per bottle. Price depends on the quality of the shampoo and the quantity in the bottle.

Inexpensive

For a wallet-friendly shampoo for colored hair, expect to spend between $6 to $12 for 8 to 10 ounces. These formulas often include color-safe properties like UV protectants and color hydration. Only about half of the shampoos in this bracket are sulfate-free.

Mid-range

These shampoos for colored hair cost between $12 and $25, some of which come in 33.8-ounce bottles. Here you’ll find salon brands that truly maximize your color potential.

Expensive

High-end shampoo for colored hair costs between $25 and $50 and includes specialty brands with unique formulas and color-safe technology. These products are often formulated with luxury ingredients, such as exotic imported oils.

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Expert Tip
To thoroughly rinse shampoo from your hair, use your shower head attachment. Adjust the water pressure to a concentrated water stream and apply directly to your scalp.
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Tips

  • Test shampoo on your arm. To see whether you would have a reaction to a particular shampoo, do a patch test on your arm. If your skin turns red or burns after application, you know it contains ingredients that would likely cause your scalp to react.
  • Check your hairline. Before leaving the shower, check your hairline to make sure all shampoo and conditioner is washed out. If the product isn’t washed out, your hair could end up greasy and flat until your next shampoo.
  • Scrub in circular motions. When shampooing your hair, massage your scalp gently in small, circular motions to spread out the shampoo evenly. This will help prevent trauma to your scalp and hair.
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When you rinse shampoo from your hair, use lukewarm or cool water. Hot water is more likely to strip the color from your hair.

FAQ

Q. Do I need to use conditioner if my shampoo for colored hair is already a moisturizing formula?

A. Absolutely. Even the most hydrating shampoo isn’t enough to coat and protect your hair the way conditioner does. If you’re concerned about losing volume and bounce from using a conditioner, opt for a lightweight one, or use half the amount. Another option is to focus the conditioner on your roots and tips, which is where colored hair needs the most moisture. 

Q. How often should I wash my hair?

A. Hair experts say you should only wash your hair when absolutely necessary, especially if it’s dyed to avoid washing out the color. For some people, that’s every other day. To others, it’s once a week. With that said, using shampoo for colored hair continues to protect color with each washing, no matter how often you shampoo.

Q. I’ve been dying my hair one color for years now, and I just made a drastic switch to a new color. Do I need to change my shampoo as well?

A. It depends on the color. If you went from blonde to red, you’d need to choose a shampoo that holds on to red tones. If you went from any other color to blonde, it would be worth exploring blonde shampoos to maximize the strength of your color.

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