What Hair Stylists Actually Use To Care For Color-Treated Hair At Home

Color-treating your hair is a process — one that goes on long after you leave the salon. To maintain the perfect hue and to keep your strands feeling hydrated and strong, Narie Sade, hair stylist and owner of Narie Sade Studio, a hair salon specializing in natural hair in Atlanta, says it’s all about the aftercare. You don’t want to wait weeks between salon trips to take care of your locks; in fact, there are tons of things you can do right at home.

″[You want to do] weekly or biweekly treatments whether it’s a deep condition or hydration treatment,” Sade told HuffPost. “It’s always best to do hydration treatments and that’s with the hair steamer.” Sade says many of her clients have hair steamers in their own homes so they can give themselves hydration treatments between trips to the salon.

But even without a home steamer, there are many ways to maintain the color and shine between color treatments, said Carlina Ortega, a celebrity hair colorist based in New York City.

“Take care of your color at home by washing your hair twice a week and limiting the use of hot tools like flat irons and curling irons,” Ortega told HuffPost.

Ashley Lee, a natural hair care and color expert, owner of Cheveurier in The Bronx, New York, and host of the “Hustle Free Hair” podcast, said that you’ll want to use only color-safe products and wash your hair with warm to cool water to maintain your color’s vibrancy. It’s also good to do a restorative treatment every time you wash.

“Make sure to keep your hair moisturized and hydrated to prevent breakage, and also treat your hair with every shampoo session to help reinforce the bonds that were broken down during the color process,” Lee said.

To ensure the best results, Sade recommends preparing your hair for color treatment. You want to make sure your hair is healthy and strong, with no split ends, major shedding, tangling or major dryness. “Dry hair and coloring the hair is what’s really gonna cause that breakage,” she said. “You just wanna really make sure that your hair is in a very healthy position, and you would know that from going to a stylist that caters to natural hair, healthy hair or, you know, coloring hair.”

Below, shop these professional stylists’ recommendations, and scroll all the way down for some additional tips on choosing the right colorist for your hair.

HuffPost receives a share from retailers on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

R+Co Lost Treasure apple cider vinegar cleansing rinse

“First things first, healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp. The pH of your scalp can become imbalanced due to product build-up, environmental contaminates, and hormonal shifts. R+Co’s ‘Lost Treasure’ apple cider vinegar rinse restores your hair to its natural state and calms the scalp. This product is color safe and cleanses without removing natural oils. I recommend this product leading up to a color service, especially if the client will be receiving an on-the-scalp color application and has been experiencing any irritation of the scalp, such as dandruff.” — Amy Johnson, hair stylist at Barnet Fair in Philadelphia

Olaplex ultimate essentials kit

Jackson, Sade and Johnson all recommend the Olaplex hair Perfector set, calling it a “must-have” for most types of color-treated hair.

“A definite must-have is the Olaplex system if you plan to get your hair colored. If you don’t want to invest in the entire system, numbers 3, 4 and 5 are a solid foundation for a good hair care regimen.” — Jackson

“I always do the Olaplex treatment on my color-treated clients. I use… the treatment that you put on the hair before you shampoo, the shampoo and the conditioner.” — Sade

“Olaplex No. 3 rebuilds hair internally by re-forming broken disulfide bonds and repairing hair from the inside out. Perfect for any hair type, I recommend this product to clients with compromised and even healthy hair. It not only repairs but can prevent future damage for an upcoming color transformation when used at home leading up to your color service. Olaplex is designed as a system so I recommend pairing this product with the color safe No. 4 and No. 5 — bond maintenance shampoo and conditioner — to achieve the best results.” — Johnson

Paul Mitchell Color Protect shampoo

“Paul Mitchell has a color shampoo that’s really good. I like to use it for my color-treated hair.” — Sade

Oribe Hair Alchemy fortifying treatment serum

“Take care of your color at home by nourishing hair with treatments like Oribe Hair Alchemy.” — Ortega

Silicon Mix hair treatment

“A lot of up north people know about the Silicon Mix products. I really, really love their conditioner. I literally have never used another conditioner that makes my client’s hair feel so soft and just so full and … shiny. It’s just great.” — Sade

Overtone color depositing conditioner

“I also recommend a color depositing conditioner, like ones from Overtone, to keep your color vibrant in between salon visits.” — Jackson

This conditioner comes in 15 shades.

Artist Hand professional hair steamer

“It’s always best to do hydration treatment with the hair steamer. I don’t recommend those new handheld steamers that you see on TikTok people have at the shampoo bowl, just because the steam is only getting to the top of your hair and maybe a little bit in the middle, but it’s not hydrating and treating your whole entire head, which is what you need. I wanna be sat under a real full-head hair steamer where my whole head is going under and my whole head is getting this steam treatment. You’ll sit under the steamer for about 25 minutes, that’s what helps also bring the curls back.” — Sade

Sade says that many of her clients set up a little salon area in their bathrooms to do steams at home. She also recommends using distilled water when doing a steam.

Rita Hazan True Color shampoo and conditioner

“The products I consider must-haves are Rita Hazan’s True Color shampoo and conditioner. They use rice proteins and Moringa seed extract that leave the hair clean and nourished. These products are made for longer lasting color and they’re sulfate- and paraben-free.” — Ortega

Oribe Gold Lust dry shampoo

Ortega suggests shampooing color-treated hair only twice a week. For between shampoos, she recommends a high quality dry shampoo, like Oribe Gold Lust.

Rita Hazan root concealer touch up spray

Ortega also recommends the Rita Hazan root concealer touch-up spray, for keeping your roots looking good between colorings. It comes in four colors.

Jumbo Hair Curlers Rollers

“Limit the use of hot tools like flat irons and curling irons. Use rollers or braiding for natural heatless curls.” — Ortega

This set comes with 12 self-gripping rollers and 12 stainless steel duckbill clips.

You can help stave off color-related damage to your hair by working with the right professional in the first place.

“Any colorist that takes on a hair color can do so with proper technique and making informed decisions around their approach,” Lee told HuffPost. “Hair color won’t ruin your hair if it’s left in the right hands.”

Sade urges people not to use box dye from drug or big box stores. If you want to color your hair, she recommends working with a licensed professional — one that has ample photos of their work. “In 2022, if you don’t have any footage of your work or any proof that you can color hair, I’m a little concerned,” she said.

Ortega explained that box dye doesn’t account for different types of hair. “Box dye is universal, she said. “At the salon, we mix color specifically for each individual. Your hair type, color, texture, condition and desired color are all taken into consideration when formulating.”

This personalization is what keeps your hair healthy and strong, Lee said, even as it’s color treated.

“I always tell my clients, make sure that you’re sitting in someone’s chair that knows correct hair terminology. That shows you that they have a real education,” Sade said. “You’ll be surprised, people that say, ‘Oh, can I dye your hair?’ They’re probably getting the color from Target.”