Do shampoos for colored hair actually work?

do shampoo for coloured hair work

A quick look at the haircare aisle at your local supermarket or beauty store clearly shows the huge variety of shampoos available on the market for your locks: from those for straight to curly hair, for dry to oily hair, anti-dandruff, anti-aging, color protecting and so on. Today, I’d like to talk about shampoos for colored hair. Are they really different from regular shampoos or is it, once again, just another marketing hype?

Well, if you have dyed hair, you probably tried your fair share of these shampoos but I doubt many of you have seen satisfying results. I know I tried a few myself in the past but without much luck. Of course, things are changing and some haircare companies have started to develop some shampoos that can help color stay on that little bit longer, but most of the choices on the market not only don’t contain dyes that add color to your hair, but they even include harsh ingredients that can instead strip it off! Let’s take a closer look at the claims and ingredients, shall we?

Most shampoos for colored hair don’t claim to add color, just to enhance its appearance

The first thing to do when purchasing a shampoo for colored hair is to read the label carefully. You’ll see that most products claim to “enhance or revitalize richness and depth and add shine”, not to “add color to your hair”. So, what does this mean? Simply put, these products contain ingredients like silicones and other conditioning agents that will make your hair shiny and moisturized, keeping it looking and feeling great. And when hair is in good condition, you get the shine and an enhanced appearance and hair looks overall better so these products do what they say on the label. You’re led to believe they will also protect your color from fading or add some dye to your hair to make it last longer simply because they are marketed towards people with colored hair, but they don’t. Yes, these products are misleading, but all you need to do not to fall for the trap is read carefully the claims the products make.

What about shampoos that contain dyes?

However, lately some brands have come out with products that contain dyes that are supposed to stick to your hair, thus making your hair color last longer. Obviously, the color of the dye matches that of the color the product is targeted to: yellow dyes are added to products for blondes and usually have a honeyed color, while brown dyes are included in shampoos for those that have brown hair and they are very dark in color. But do these dyes work? Most of the time, they don’t. They are simply added to make the product look nicer and give it a certain color, but won’t stick to your hair and provide any color enhancing benefits for your locks.

The problem with dyes in shampoos is that these are in rinse-off products and when you rinse off your hair, the dye, instead than staying on your hair, will go down the drain. Of course some shampoos can perform slightly better than others and contain stronger dyes so that a little bit of it may actually stuck to your hair and add some color, but only a very subtle hint of it, so don’t expect miracle results. Also, you need to be careful when using these kind of products because even if the dyes don’t stick too well on your hair, because of their dark color, they can stain your towels and bathroom.

Pay attention to harsh cleansing ingredients

If you wanna make your hair color last longer, you should also pay attention to the cleansing ingredients in shampoos. In fact, even shampoos that are marketed for colored hair can contain strong surfactants like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, TEA-dodecylbenzenesulfonate and C14-16 olefin sulfonate that will actually strip your hair color off! Instead opt for mild or extra mild shampoo with gentler cleansing ingredients like Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine for example. Also, shampoo your hair less often, if you can of course, and use conditioner afterwards to keep your hair in good condition. They also offer some protection against the sun rays, which can make hair dye fade.

The Bottom Line

Save your money. Shampoos for colored hair aren’t different from regular shampoos. Most of them just claim to enhance the appearance of your hair and add shine (which they do), but that won’t make your color last longer. As for those that contain dyes, some of them can have some very limited benefits and add a little bit of color (they usually feel quite drying though), but usually the coloring agents don’t adhere too well to your hair and are rinsed off together with the shampoo. Also, pay attention to the cleansing agents in your shampoos as they are usually one of the main culprits in making your color fade faster. And they can be found in shampoos that are supposed to protect your hair color from fading as well!

Do you use shampoos marketed to protect and add hair color? How do they work for you?

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  1. says

    I dyed my hair about 10 years ago in middle school and those colored-treated shampoos did not work for squat. My color washed out after a month and it cost me a bundle cause of my long hair, lol.
    Dee´s last blog post ..Lets get NAKED!My Profile

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Dee, that’s too bad! Unfortunately these kind of shampoos are just marketing hype, they don’t really work and some of them can make color fade even faster. Companies are coming out with better products though so one day we may see shampoos for colored hair that work.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Pinch, you’re welcome and thank you. I do my best to write post that can interest and help people and set the record straight on all those hyped-up and misleading advertising claims. And good for you, there’s no money wasting time on products for colored-treated hair since they aren’t any different from the regular ones. :)

  2. TeacherFirst says

    Shielo shampoo locks in my color so well that i never have to do any touch ups during the month. it gets rid of build up and leaves it soft and shiny.

    I would recommend their Shielo Color Protect Line to any one with color treated hair, but if you also have DRY hair, you can use their Shielo HYDRATE line which also protects color treated hair, but also adds a touch of moisture if you need it. Amaze!

    I have red hair and as you know that is the toughest color to maintain. But Shielo shampoo helps protect it from the sun the wind and any other element’s. A little goes a long way. A 1 liter bottle will last me a good 6 months.

    If your an animal lover you will happy to know that Shielo is also cruelty free.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      TeacherFirst, thanks for your comment. I’m glad this brand is working so well for you. :)

  3. Milo says

    I got to tell you that I have seen a total difference using regular products than color-treated ones.
    I mean, there’s a noticeable difference using a bastard bottle of pantene than a bottle of kérastase choma riche. You cannot expect a 5 bucks product do the job.
    Shampoos can really make your color last longer, but that doesn’t mean you are then able to go into the sunlight 12 hours a day or go into a pool.

    Hope someone soon invents a way to really dye hair, not only coating as we actually do.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Milo, I too hope that one day someone will invent a hair dye that lasts a lot longer and can withstand frequent washing, sun exposure etc. But I don’t agree with you about not having to expect a lot from a 5 buck product. There are a lot of cheap hair care products that work well and a lot of expensive ones that are disappointing and vice versa. And at the moment, we don’t really have the technology to make shampoos that will dye hair or something. We can only formulate them with the mildest surfactants so they won’t strip too much dye and thus the colour will last longer.

  4. Harriet says

    This is an amazing, informative article! Thank you so much!
    I use gloss colour on my hair- every 6-8 weeks at the salon and my lovely hairdresser tries to sell me ‘colour protect’ shampoo every time, which I politely decline. But I wanted to check that I’ve been making the right decision- this article confirmed that I’m making the right hair care choices.
    I use organic shampoo and conditioner that are sulphate free, and work a treat!
    Harriet (London, England)

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      Harriet, you’re welcome. I’m glad you’ve found it useful. And you definitely made the right choice. A lot of hairdressers try to sell those products in good faith, as they believe the marketing claims too, but the truth is that they don’t really work.

      A sulphate-free shampoo that won’t strip as much colour during washing works a lot better!

  5. NYC maven says

    If you have color treated hair – you MUST use a sulfate free shampoo, because the sulfates will stip the hair color. I have color treated hair, and I have tried many, but Shielo’s Color Protect is the BEST! The Shielo Shampoo leaves my hair shiny, soft and keeps my color extra long. . .and its sulfate and chemical free.

    • beautifulwithbrains says

      NYC Maven, I agree that sulfate-free shampoos are best for colour-treated hair as they won’t strip as much, if any, colour. However, if you use a lot of styling products or have very oily hair, they may not be strong enough to remove all the excess oil and buildup. But I’m glad you’ve found something that works so well for you.

  6. Flora2 says

    I have tried countless shampoos, whatever the cost, on my thick, dry, frizzy, color treated red hair and have found few that do much other than clean. Some are better than others at not stripping red color, but the Shielo Color Protect Shampoo left my hair in BETTER CONDITION after one washing than I have ever encountered before. My hair is incredibly smooth and shiny, which is remarkable. I would recommend Shielo for anyone with dry frizzy hair whether color treated or not. FYI- I also used the conditioner.

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