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I’ve had pretty much every hair color under the sun other than blue, green, or purple, and the hardest one to care for, in my experience, is platinum blonde — especially in sunny, humid, hair-destroying weather.
The first time I went white-blonde, I was about to go on a beach vacation and my colorist scared the crap out of me with her warnings to STAY OUT OF THE SUN at all costs. She told me my lovely silver hair could turn brassy and yellow if it got too fried, so I dutifully wore a hat for that whole trip... and basically until I went back to brown.
Years later, I still try to keep my (now once again) platinum bob covered at the beach; I also turn up the silver in between salon visits with a deep purple conditioner. But two years of bleaching, plus two months of swimming, sunning, and hanging out in New York’s summer has definitely left my hair dry and damaged. After chatting with some fellow dye-jobs about what they use — or don’t use — I figured I would phone in a few expert opinions on how to prep, care for, and repair damaged dyed hair before and after the coloring process.
Sharon Dorram, a blonde expert who’s colored the likes of Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, and Uma Thurman (among many others), agrees that one of the best things you can do for colored hair is just stay out direct sun, or keep it covered it you’re going to be anywhere super sunny or windy.
If you’ve got really damaged hair, she suggests doing some prep work about a week before you go in for your next salon visit. “My advice would be to get a really great mask,” Dorram told me by phone. “I personally love the Leonor Greyl Masque à l'Orchidée ($65). If your hair's über damaged, then add some vitamin E drops into it, stir it around, and leave it in your hair as long as you can. If you have some heat, where you can expose it to heat or steam, that'll penetrate better, but the more time you give it, the better. Do that one or two times before going in.”
Another home remedy she loves is the Ultimate Remedy ($68) by Shu Uemura. “They also make an Essence Absolue ($69), which is a restorative oil, so I’ll mix that into the Ultimate Remedy as well,” she says. “It’s kind of similar to the idea of doing the Leonor Greyl with the vitamin E.” Dorram told me she uses the Essence Absolue in her own hair, and thinks it’s one of the best things you can do to protect against salt, sun, wind, or chlorine.
For general maintenance, she suggests using the Recovery shampoo ($38) and conditioner ($40) combo from Virtue [Ed. note: Dorram is Virtue’s color director], which she says will basically nourish your hair and keep it shiny. (If you want to test them out, Virtue has a 2-ounce travel size version of each for $15.)
According to Dorram, all products from Virtue contain a protein — Alpha Keratin 60ku — that has been used in regenerative medicine to help to heal wounds. “The one in particular that really works the best, because it has the most protein, is the Recovery,” Dorram says. She also recommends the brand’s Split End Serum ($40) or just plain old vitamin E for extra-damaged hair. As far as color-depositing shampoos and conditioners, Dorram cautions that they can be hit or miss, and only recommends using one if you’re platinum.
When I spoke with Rita Hazan, who colors Beyoncé’s hair (as well as a bunch of other celebs’ hair, including Jessica Simpson’s, but what more do you need to hear after “Beyoncé”?), she stressed the importance of working out a shampoo, conditioner, and gloss program with your colorist to figure out what’s best for your exact shade. “Just like you have a regimen for your skin, you need one for your hair,” she told me by phone.
Her eponymous haircare line makes all three, which she says can work for all textures. According to Hazan, the True Color Ultimate Shine Gloss ($26) in particular helps enhance your color (without changing it) and makes it last for a long time, since dyed hair usually starts to lose pigment after a few weeks due to oxidation and other factors.
Hazan’s favorite product is her Triple Threat Split End Therapy ($30), which she recommends for everyone, not just those with dyed hair; she says it’s especially good for anyone trying to gain length. “It has collagen in it, which kind of acts like glue on your ends,” she says. “The more you use it, the stronger your ends get, so you don’t really have to cut your hair.”
If (like me) you don’t want to keep your hair hidden under a hat all summer, the one product you should really check out is Hazan’s SPF Lock + Block Spray ($26), which I tried out courtesy of the brand. It has a super, super light hold similar to a flexible hair spray. After just a few uses, I can’t say whether the SPF had much effect, but my hair certainly looked (and smelled!) good when I used it for styling.