While most of the time we pick hair colors because we like them, sometimes we just want one that will last. Knowing what hair color fades the slowest can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
To understand why some colors last longer than others, we first need to examine how hair dye works. Let’s take a look at some colors and see how they hold up in comparison.
What Hair Color Fades the Slowest?
Generally speaking, dark colors will last the longest, with black staying nearly permanently. Anything dark has the best-staying power. Black, brown, and dark red fade the slowest, but a darker brown will last longer than a lighter brown.
While this is the usual format, staying power also depends on the brand and type of hair dye, your hair, and your hair care routine. Similarly, dying your hair a dark purple will last longer than a pale purple, but purple fades much more quickly than most natural colors.
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Why Certain Colors Last
Several factors dictate which colors fade more quickly. The molecular make-up of the pigment in the dye and starting color of your hair are the two most significant influencers.
Pigment and Chemistry
At a molecular level, different color dyes have different amounts of pigment and different molecular make-ups. Darker, more pigmented dyes have more to them and therefore take longer to wash out or fade.
Black dye has significantly more pigment than blue and a different molecular structure that bonds to the hair better. Additionally, the hair-dying process relies on a series of chemical reactions. Hair dye has three base compounds: hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and ethanolamine.
The ammonia is responsible for getting the color into the hair shaft as it causes the molecules in the hair strands to swell. The resulting change opens gaps in the hair that allows the pigment molecules to enter.
It works very similarly to how tattoos do, but instead of inserting the pigment directly, it gets into the hair through a chemical reaction. Like tattoos, hair dye also fades from wear and bodily changes.
If you have dark hair and plan to dye it red, it will fade faster for you than someone who dyes their light hair red. This difference is due to the state of the hair shaft at the time of dying.
To achieve the same shade of red as the light-haired person, you need to start by bleaching. Bleaching damages the hair shaft. It has to lift the natural color, and since the pigment lies within the shaft, the hair itself has to open up to remove it.
This process makes the hair more porous and brittle. It also leaves it open to outside forces. Therefore when you wash your hair, it’s easier to wash the dye out than when a light-haired person washes their unbleached hair.
Similarly, if you are dying hair already damaged from chemical treatments, heat styling, or other products, it won’t hold the dye as long as undamaged hair.
What Colors Fades Fastest?
Silver and light blue fade the most quickly. Anything pastel usually goes next. Blue, green, and purple go in that order. Yellow and orange will last longer, depending on how you got there.
If your hair is dyed orange, it won’t last nearly as long as if you bleached just far enough to be orange. Blonde tends to look grayer or browner as it fades depending on your natural hair color.
Pinks fade quickly usually, but reds often last quite well. Generally, the paler the color, the more quickly it will fade, and blue or purple tinted silvers are exceedingly hard to maintain.
How to Make Hair Color Last Longer
After paying for a professional dye job or spending hours in your bathroom dying it yourself, the last thing you want is for your hair color to fade prematurely.
Here are some tips for finding the longest-lasting dye brands, washing dyed hair properly, and maintaining the color through regimented day-to-day hair care.
Unfortunately, not all dye brands are equal, so it’s necessary to choose the ones that will be sure to hold in your hair. If you want natural tones, Revlon, Garnier, L’Oreal, and Schwarzkopf Got2b are the best. The longest-lasting unnatural color dye brands include Punky Colour, Arctic Fox, Manic Panic, and Joico Color Intensity.
The first tip to ensure a longer-lasting dye job has to do with washing, namely washing less. Most people already wash their hair way more often than they should, but when you wash dyed hair too frequently, the color will diminish faster.
You shouldn’t wash your hair more than two to three times a week, but one to two is ideal. Additionally, sulfate-free, color-safe shampoos and conditioners help to maintain color. Conditioner is a vital after-care step after dying as it helps to close up the hair shaft and protect the color inside.
Avoiding chlorine pool water and ocean water, especially right after dying, will help to extend the life of your color. Using dry shampoo will also extend the time between washes.
One of the most detrimental things you can do to your hair is use heat styling. Damaging your hair with heat styling, chemical products, and sun exposure will open the hair shafts and dull the dye faster. Avoid heat styling and chemical treatments.
UV rays from the sun can also break down hair and bleach the pigment over time. Wearing hats and using heat protector spray can help reduce the speed at which your hair color fades.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s look at some common questions regarding hair color fading:
What makes hair color fade faster?
Washing your hair often will remove even permanent dye faster. While heat styling, sun exposure, and chemical treatments will also remove dye faster, they’re also very damaging to your hair and can cause breakage.
Does purple hair fade quickly?
Purple hair will fade rather quickly depending on the way you dye it and the brand you use. Starting with lighter hair or less bleached hair and choosing an intense purple from a good brand like Garnier will last a fair while. Bleaching your hair to nearly white and dying it soft will fade quickly.
How can you make your hair color last longer?
Using hair products meant for dyed hair is a terrific first step. These products are specialized and formulated not to weaken the bond between the dye and the hair and not strip the hair of the oils it needs to keep the dye in place. Washing your hair less frequently and with cooler water will also keep the color in place longer.
What color of hair dye lasts the longest?
Dark brown lasts the longest. While it’s usually considered black, the critical distinction is the type of black. Many black dyes have a blue or green undertone. These types of black won’t last as long as brown-black. The darkest shade of brown you can find will last the longest of any dye.
How often should you color your hair?
Generally speaking, dying your hair every four to six weeks is ideal. This period gives your hair time to recover between sessions and lets it grow out enough that dying the roots is easier. Some at-home kits have different wait periods, but the general rule is four to six weeks.
So, Which Hair Colors Fades the Slowest?
Black and brown dyes last the longest, but if you choose black, be sure to find one with a brown undertone instead of blue or green, as these tend to fade more quickly. Generally speaking, dark, intense colors fade the most slowly, and light, pastel colors fade rapidly.