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Make Your Hair Color Last Twice As Long

Stylist-approved tips, tricks and the miracle products that extend your hair color by at least two weeks
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There's nothing better than just-home-from-the-salon new-color euphoria. But unless you're the Martha Stewart of color care, three weeks later, blonde highlights are brassy, rich chocolate browns become muddy, and that sassy, vibrant red is practically nonexistent. (If you've ever gone red, you know what I mean.)

Before you know it, you're back in the salon. While you're relaxing, sipping tea and flipping through magazines as your color processes, your bank account is taking another hit.

To help you get the most out of your appointment (with minimal effort), we've rounded up the latest color-saving super hero products and enlisted the help of celebrity stylists George Papanikolas and Harry Josh. Help extend your hair color with these tricks and we promise: you'll go twice as long between color appointments.

Image via Imaxtree

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Prep Your Hair Before Your Appointment
Everyone stresses the importance of post-color hair care, but you can help your hair absorb and hold onto color better before you even walk through the door of the salon. "The week before your appointment, prep your hair with a deep conditioning protein treatment," says Matrix Celebrity Hairstylist George Papanikolas. Because healthier hair holds onto color longer by sealing it in, switch your usual shampoo/conditioner out for a system like Biolage's Advanced Keratindose, $19. Keratin shields the outer cuticle from damage and rebuilds damaged proteins from the inside out.

In the days before your salon visit, if you're going for a single process color treatment, Papanikolas (who recently took Kim Kardashian from black to blonde) recommends skipping shampoo. "One to two days of natural oils on the hair can help protect your scalp," he says. However, if you're going in for highlights or ombré, "clean hair is best because it back-combs better than oily or dirty hair," Papanikolas explains.

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Avoid This No-No Ingredient
How long should you wait after coloring to wash your hair? The short answer: as long as you can stand it. The longer you wait, the longer the color has a chance to settle in (I held out for four days without washing after getting a red glaze, which may have been a little extreme, but I promise there was a good reason.)

Shampooing, especially with hot water, relaxes the hair, which allows the color molecules to escape more easily. You'll lose some color each time you shampoo, so Papanikolas advises that at a minimum, "wait one to two days after color to shampoo for the color molecules to fully stabilize." When you finally do shampoo, use a gentle, color-safe formula, and try to keep the water cool or lukewarm.

"Gentle" means staying away from shampoos with sulfates (commonly listed as sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate toward the top of the ingredient list). Sulfates make your shampoo foamy, but they also strip the color molecules from your hair. Instead, use a shampoo and conditioner like L'Oreal Professionnel INOAColor Care, $27 or Redken's Color Extend Magnetics, $18, to help lock in color. New technology like Redken's Interlock Protein Network (IPN) strengthens the hair fiber while amino-ions help seal in color molecules. Papanikolas also suggests avoiding clarifying or volumizing shampoos because they can also strip and fade color.

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Skip A Few Washes
Newsflash: the less you wash your hair, the longer your color will last. (Duh, right?) If you haven't quite figured out how to pull this off without your hair looking like a limp, greasy mop by day two, we have two words for you: dry shampoo. ColorProof Dry Spell Color Protect Dry Shampoo, $26, is a sulfate-free dry shampoo made up of starchy corn, rice and clay particles that absorb oil while also protecting color from UVA/UVB rays that speed up the fading process.

We also love the new Vidal Sassoon ColorFinity Dry Shampoo, $3.99, which comes in two options tailored for dark and blonde color-treated hair. It uses tapioca starch to soak up excess oil, but sprayed so lightly onto my dark brown roots, there was no sign of the dreaded white residue.

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Boost Color With A Gloss
I always think of the gloss as the most luxurious part of a salon treatment -- sure, the dye gives you new color, but it's the gloss that transforms your hair from ordinary to Kate Middleton. I flipped when I learned about the new at-home John Frieda Colour Refreshing Gloss, $12.99, in October. Can they do that? How did they do that? And may I please have some now?

Glosses work to "restore lost pigments that are customized to a woman's hair tone, bringing hair back to its true, brilliant color," says John Frieda International Creative Consultant Harry Josh.

They're also super simple to use. The glosses come in six shades -- a cool and warm option for blondes, brunettes and redheads. You can expect to get six applications out of each gloss, which is designed to be used just once weekly on wet hair after you shampoo and condition. Rinse out after 3-5 minutes, and bask in the glory of your renewed, straight-from-the-salon color without the harsh chemicals of a permanent dye job.

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