How Do You Keep Dyed Hair Healthy?


Maybe you color your hair to cover up your grays or to express your individuality. A fresh new shade or even a root touch-up can boost your self-esteem and help you feel like you can take on the world.

However, as our hair biology evolves, it becomes even more important to keep your locks and scalp hydrated, balanced, and shielded from the effects of harsh chemicals. Hair dyes involve potent chemicals that can cause hair damage if you use them too frequently or fail to care for your tresses afterward.

Chemical treatments strip away your hair’s lipid protection, weaken your cuticles, and leave it vulnerable to damage. As bad as this sounds, coloring your hair does not have to end its good health. If you understand what color treatments do to your hair, you will know what methods and products to use to keep your dyed hair healthy.

What Does Hair Dye Do to Your Hair?

There is more to a permanent dye job than staining your strand's surface (that is how temporary hair color works). To achieve that epic shock of russet red, walnut brown, or honey blonde, you need ammonia and hydrogen peroxide to deliver color to your hair’s cortex by:

Opening Your Cuticles

Your tresses are slightly acidic (lower-than-neutral pH), which ensures your shaft’s outer cuticle layer stays closed to safeguard your hair’s interior. Higher-pH substances like ammonia, or monoethanolamine, damage your cuticles by forcing them open to let in more chemicals and hair color.

Stripping Away Your Lipid Layer

Highly alkaline ammonia also dissolves your hair’s lipid layer (18-methyl eicosanoic acid, 18-MEA), which is responsible for retaining and repelling water. Without this fatty acid, your strands become over-hydrated, which causes structure damage — or under-hydrated, which leads to brittleness.

Dissolving Your Melanin

Before you add dye, your natural hair pigments are broken down or diffused using varying strengths of hydrogen peroxide — this lightens, or "lifts," your hair color. A stronger hydrogen peroxide concentration supplies a higher lift but leads to increased internal hair shaft damage. Furthermore, because peroxide is not a "smart" molecule, it does not limit itself to melanin — it can also damage keratin, your hair's primary building block.

Depositing Permanent Pigments

Hair dye is colorless when you apply it along with hydrogen peroxide to your tresses. The hydrogen peroxide acts as a color "developer" inside your hair shaft to generate your shade. The colorant's large molecules then bond to your hair cortex and cannot be washed out.

When your cuticles are forced open at an elevated pH level, they become vulnerable to damage — applying conditioner to your locks after coloring returns your pH to its original level.

How to Keep Your Dyed Hair Healthy

Your aging hair undergoes physiological changes as you age. Some follicles shrink and produce finer, shorter hair — while others quit producing strands altogether, increasing scalp exposure. Aging changes also cause protein loss, cuticle fragility, and decreased elasticity, leading to breakage when it is combed or styled.

Adding hair dye chemicals to your already delicate locks can trigger further damage and take a toll on its natural body and shine if not done carefully. By using a deep conditioning system and maintaining a healthy regimen, you can make your color last and keep your tresses looking their best.

Condition Your Hair

You should keep your dyed hair conditioned at all times. The oils, conditioning polymers, and butters in hair conditioners resist water and act as shield averting swollen and waterlogged strands. Swelling hair fibers open your cuticles, releasing hair dye molecules. This means your perfect shade of burnished copper or deep burgundy will be washed down the drain.

Use Better Not Younger’s Wake Up Call Volumizing Conditioner or Second Chance Repairing Conditioner for Dry/Damaged Hair to create a protective barrier and keep your color in place.

Wake Up Call uses bamboo to strengthen strands and bolster moisture retention, and hops to provide antioxidants to smooth cuticles and thicken your hair. Second Chance leverages argan oil to attract and lock-in scalp and strand moisture. This powerful repairing conditioner rebuilds and restores damaged hair, delivering a lush shine to colored-treated hair.

Mask Your Hair

Your conditioner coats and protects your hair; however, a mask works deeper to feed your cuticle and address hair issues at the scalp. Masks like Better Not Younger’s Hair Redemption Restorative Butter Masque detangles, softens, and rejuvenates your hair. Hair Redemption’s five-butter blend of mango, avocado, cupuaçu, murumuru, and macadamia, plus vitamin E, keep your tresses color-safe and ultra-hydrated.

This creamy, rich formula replaces fatty acid lost during the hair coloring process, sealing in hydration, rebuilding strength, and improving resilience and shine without weighing it down.

Use a Sulfate-Free Shampoo

To keep your dyed hair healthy, use sulfate-free shampoo. There are many sulfate solutions, but sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), and ammonium laureth sulfate (ALS) are the ones most commonly found in cosmetic products. While sulfate shampoos do not directly extract the color, they do have an indirect effect on color loss.

Sulfates are cheap ingredients added to many shampoos to create their foaming effect. They also wash away conditioner layers and free lipids present inside your cuticle, leaving your dyed hair defenseless against damage and rapid color fade. The more your hair is damaged, the quicker your color escapes.

Use a sulfate-free shampoo with mild surfactants to clean gently and buoy hair health. Wake Up Call Volumizing Shampoo uses bamboo to retain moisture, and sage to balance oil production. Second Chance Low Suds Repairing Shampoo for Dry/Damaged Hair contains argan oil to combat dryness and rice bran oil to protect your hair from environmental damage.

Keep Your Dyed Hair Healthy with Better Not Younger

Your scalp and hair biology is evolving, but that shouldn’t deter you from expressing your individuality with a bold new color. Keeping your dyed hair healthy is easy if you use hair care products from Better Not Younger.

Formulated for your aging hair, Better Not Younger is the first and only holistic hair care line created for women over 40. Check out our entire inventory of color-safe hair care products on our Shop page.