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Bring dye-, bleach-, and highlight-damaged hair back from the brink with these at-home and in-salon treatments.
Written By Jess Basser Sanders
Solutions for Color Treated Hair | THE VIOLET FILES | @violetgrey

— PHOTOGRAPHY BY GUY AROCH FOR THE VIOLET FILES


BEAUTY CREDITS
FASHION CREDITS
  • STYLING BY LIZ MCLEAN
  • DEMYLEE TOP

Call it a true beauty conundrum: While gray-banishing root touch-ups and warm winter highlights make life feel brighter, over time they can also leave your hair a little bit dull. Long-term dyers know the occupational hazards of constant coloring—fading, breakage, split ends, and drying, to name a few. But The Violet Files very much believes in having it all, so we consulted experts on the best at-home treatments to keep color-treated locks lush and lustrous.

Below, colorist Chelsey Pickthorn of Pickthorn hair studio (aka the woman New York’s most discerning model bookers keep on speed dial for editorial-worthy hair transformations) reveals the best ideas borrowed from salon menus, while Los Angeles-based beauty expert Merrady Wickes weighs in on protecting and powering up colored hair at home.

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Environmental stressors (think: UV rays and air pollution) can interfere with the overall quality of your hair. Particulate matter—the microscopic bits of dust, soot, and smoke—settles on the hair and scalp to cause irritation. This concentrated treatment serum counteracts and prevents the problem with a blend of hyaluronic acid and moringa extract.

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We know protecting hair from the elements is crucial, as sun, chlorine, and saltwater can fade and damage the new color (and your hair). Leonor Greyl’s L’Huile has natural UV filters, which prevent fading when you’re in the sun. Says Wickes, “It’s great if you know you’re going to be in the sun—just massage it into your hair.” Doing laps in the pool instead? The sustainably sourced, palm oil–based formula solidifies slightly when wet and protects the hair cuticle.

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When hair is dry or dull, a colorist often applies a glaze to restore smoothness and a glossy finish. Fortunately, a high-quality home glaze can produce the same benefits. This weekly treatment made with refining lipids acts like the hair’s own protective varnish. Together with musk rose oil (a natural shine enhancer), it restores moisture to stripped strands, reduces frizz from root to tip, and gives hair a glossy finish. Use it once a week to keep color looking its most alive.

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Overshampooing is one of the biggest causes of color fading. Stretch out the days between washes with a good dry shampoo or a physical protector like Shhhowercap. Lazy Girl Dry Shampoo, from renowned hairstylist Sam McKnight, soaks up excess oil while adding soft volume—but not too much texture. As Wickes explains, “If hair is coarse, dry, or damaged from coloring in the first place, it gets too dry when you put a lot of texture on it.

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Even the most beautiful balayage won’t look its best when accompanied by excess oil or dandruff. To treat these common issues, pay attention to where hair begins: the scalp. Philip Kingsley’s Exfoliating Scalp Mask is a clarifying, exfoliating weekly treatment loaded with beta hydroxy acids (which reduce flaking) and zinc (to regulate bacteria and oil). For anyone with an oily scalp or flakes, a little quality time with this one will make your hair color look more lustrous.

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A cult favorite of colorists everywhere, Olaplex (which Pickthorn calls her “insurance policy”) is a three-step salon treatment that builds up the broken bonds in hair that result from chemical color processes.  At home, Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector uses the same technology to restore a healthy look and feel. Leave it on damp hair for 10 minutes, then shampoo and condition as usual—and be rewarded with stronger, silkier strands.

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The conundrum: Color looks its best on well-moisturized hair, but the very act of coloring one’s hair can render the texture dry and brittle. (Blondes, you know what we mean.) That’s why a deep-conditioning treatment is strictly not optional. Virtue Restorative Mask is an excellent choice, thanks to a unique keratin protein that fills in damaged parts of the hair cuticle; and baobab seed oil, a superb emollient that smooths and softens. Use this satisfyingly thick mask for three minutes a week, then marvel at yourself in the mirror.

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TIPS

Do’s and Don’ts from the EXPERTS
Solutions for Color Treated Hair | THE VIOLET FILES | @violetgrey
PICKTHORN’S SALON RULES: 
Don’t be foiled... Opt for a painting approach to color rather than foils, which can lead to overprocessing.
 
Hydrate... Moisturizing treatments maximize color retention, not to mention shine and strength.
WICKES’S AT-HOME RULES:
Wait it out... Hold off on that post–dye job wash for as long as possible. Then, increase the time between washes by using dry shampoo. 

Choose wisely... Use sulfate-free shampoos to prolong your color.

Wear sunblock...UV-filtering products are key to maintaining color and overall hair health.

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