It’s no secret that getting your hair professionally colored can be expensive, so it makes sense to stretch out time between appointments as long as possible. One of the most important steps to protecting the life of your hair color starts with your shampoo. “Shampoos for color-treated hair will ideally function in a few essential (and kind of obvious) ways,” explains master stylist Brooke Jordan, a co-owner of the Bird House in Gowanus. “First, they should moisturize but never strip color.” When it comes to shampooing, master colorist Christine Thompson, a co-founder of Spoke & Weal, has this essential tip: “Shampoo less.” Water is the biggest hair-color aggressor and will cause it to fade faster than any other factor. Before diving into the shampoo that’s right for your color-treated hair, some other tips for maintenance from Mary Ann Hennings, hair-department head for Daisy Jones & the Six: “Use a silk pillowcase! Bleached or cotton pillowcases rub on hair and dry it out.” She adds that the right styling products will also help: “Find hairsprays that don’t have a lot of alcohol, and run a bit of argan oil through the ends of your hair — but make sure to stay away from your scalp, to avoid overmoisturizing.”
What we’re looking for
As we’ve written before, sulfates are essentially detergents in the surfactant family that give shampoo that satisfying lather. Some hair types can tolerate them, but since sulfates can be stripping, those looking to preserve their hair color and hair health (that has likely been somewhat stressed from the color application) should avoid them.
Like most beauty products, shampoo is often scented. Since there’s nothing worse than having a fragrance you dislike follow you around all day, we’ve noted the scents of each shampoo.
We’ve made sure to note the total ounces of shampoo you’re getting per dollar if you’re shopping on a budget.
Jordan told me that the shampoos should (ideally) add in ingredients that are color protecting or color depositing. For example, purple or blue pigment-depositing formulas to fight brassiness, UV protection to help shield the color from fading from the sun, or moisturizing and repairing ingredients that nourish the hair without stripping color.
Best overall shampoo for color-treated hair
Sulfate free | Scent: Citrus | Size: 8.5 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: Bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate (bond rebuilder)
“Color processing of any sort can damage the bonds of your hair,” explains Blackstone NYC colorist Patti O’Gara. “This sulfate-free shampoo will rebuild the bonds damaged through coloring, gradually transforming dry, broken, and brittle hair back to a healthier state.” Fred Connors, the owner and creative director of FRED Salon, adds that this “game changer” shampoo also eliminates frizz. And Jenny Jacome, a partner at the salon Fox and Jane in New Jersey, promises this “will repair, restore, hydrate, and add shine.”
Although this product was originally intended for bleached hair, both O’Gara and Connors agree that Olaplex No. 4 is suitable for all hair types, especially those who are dealing with hair that feels compromised by chemical processing. I can relate. After a gnarly lockdown bleach job, I turned to a professional to color my hair red. I can’t get away without washing my thin hair regularly, so I’d notice the red dulling just a few weeks after my appointments. Investing in Olaplex No. 4 not only made the color last longer, it gave my hair a glossy shine in between trips to the salon chair.
For an additional boost of repair, O’Gara recommends pairing this with Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner. Jacome agrees: “Olaplex No. 4 is intended to go hand in hand with the rest of the Olaplex bonding system.” (Olaplex is also a favorite of Strategist beauty columnist Rio Viera-Newton, who relies on the No. 3 treatment to keep her double-processed hair healthy and happy.)
Best (less expensive) shampoo for color-treated hair
Sulfate free | Scent: Rose | Size: 32.3 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: Coconut oil, murumuru butter
For those looking to inexpensively maintain their color in between appointments, Connors recommends the Love Beauty and Planet Blooming Color Shampoo. “This shampoo is formulated like much more expensive designer brands, with ethically sourced ingredients” such as Bulgarian rose and Amazonian murumuru butter, which nourishes hair and gives loads of shine. The formula is also vegan, plant based, and cruelty-free.
Best shampoo for oily color-treated hair
Non–sulfate free | Scent: Fruity | Size: 8.4 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: UV protectant
Sachajuan Colour Protect Shampoo can add serious shine to oily hair without weighing it down because the formula is designed to pump hair full of volume and nourishment. Jordan recommends it, adding the shampoo is also a “super-gentle cleanser that does not strip color” and is formulated with a UV protectant. Jordan tells us that while Sachajuan does use sulfates (and is the only shampoo on this list that does), the ingredients are produced in “small batches in Sweden” and give fantastic results, which is why she still recommends it. When I got my hair highlighted in the fall, this was the shampoo I began using (after Sachajuan was kind enough to send it to me), and I can say with certainty that Jordan did not overpromise: My color lasted for months and my hair looked great after each wash.
Best shampoo for fine color-treated hair
Sulfate free | Scent: Fresh | Size: 8.4 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: Green-tea extract, oat protein
For fine, color-treated hair, Connors suggests Kevin Murphy’s Angel Wash. It contains green-tea extract, which “increases hair elasticity,” and oat protein, which “adds fullness while protecting color and gives fine hair body and shine,” he explains. As an added plus, the packaging is made from recycled ocean-waste plastic, making it beneficial for both your hair and the earth, he says.
Best color safe shampoo for shine
Sulfate free | Scent: Citrus | Size: 10.1 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: Sunflower extract
This is another shampoo that I’ve worked into my routine, on the recommendation of Vidal Sassoon trained hairdresser Lili Keith. “This is one of those products I forgot about for years, and couldn’t understand how I’d ever stopped using it once I discovered it again,” says Keith. “The shine that this gives is second to no other shampoo that I’ve tried in 20 years as a stylist. I feel comfortable recommending it to all of my color clients as it’s so affordable, too.” With moisturizing ingredients like sunflower extract, the shampoo not only protects color but hydrates hair. It also makes my hair exceptionally shiny, even three days after washing.
Best shampoo for dry color-treated hair
Sulfate free | Scent: Fresh | Size: 8 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: Phytantriol, Proprietary Amino Cleansing Complex
O’Gara calls this her “go-to for dry hair” because it is formulated with a reparative compound that will “mend your frizz, leaving hair soft, shiny, and healthy.” While Living Proof Restore Shampoo also has a sulfate-free proprietary amino cleansing complex — which is typically synonymous with suds-free — it will still “work up a nice lather” for those who prefer the clean feeling that comes from a deeper cleansing without stripping. It also has phytantriol, which preserves color and reduces damage.
Best shampoo for color-treated hair that needs to be washed daily
Sulfate free| Scent: Powdery floral | Size: 9.47 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: Roucou and sunflower-seed oil
Jacome calls Davines Oi Shampoo “perfect for folks who need to wash their hair every day” because the Roucou- and sunflower-seed-oil–infused formula is extremely hydrating and gentle. “It leaves your hair shiny and soft,” she says, while also giving “an iridescence to your color that makes it look freshly done.”
Best shampoo for color-treated curly hair
Sulfate free | Scent: Sage, vanilla | Size: 10 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: Coconut oil, shea butter, tamanu-seed oil, jojoba oil
For highly textured, curly, and coarse hair, Thompson suggests this Innersense shampoo. It contains a blend of coconut oil, shea butter, tamanu-seed oil, and jojoba oil to pump hair full of moisture, as well as sage and ylang-ylang essential oil to cleanse and balance the scalp.
Best shampoo for frizzy color-treated hair
Sulfate free | Scent: Clean | Size: 8.5 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: Amino acids, glycerin
You may have heard of K18 before because it’s often grouped with Olaplex as a stylist-favored, lifesaving formula for color-treated and heavily bleached hair. Viera-Newton, our resident serial bleacher, explains how it works: It delivers “a patented amino-acid chain to the inner structure of your hair, replacing missing amino acids and regenerating the bond to repair your hair.” You used to be able to get it only in salons, but the brand launched at-home formulas in 2021, she said. “It’s incredibly expensive, but a tiny bit goes a long way, and my God, it works.” For frizzy, tangle-prone hair, hairstylist Tara Burke recommends using K18 Maintenance shampoo. She says it gently cleanses even sensitive scalps and will quench hair without weighing it down or fading your color. The result, according to Burke, is frizz-prone hair that not only looks and feels better but is also easier to style. She points out two added perks: “a nice, clean scent and a nice lather.”
Best color-safe shampoo for double-processed bleached blondes
Sulfate free | Scent: Floral | Size: 9.3 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: Purple-depositing pigment
Blonde hair has a tendency to take on yellow or green tones over time. To protect blondes from getting brassy, Thompson’s go-to is Rahua Color Full Shampoo, which deposits violet color into the hair’s cuticle to counteract the brassiness. “It’s the purple shampoo you have been looking for,” she promises. The chemical-free and plant-based formula also gives a healthy lather that comes from a coconut oil surfactant rather than a drying detergent, “so it’s very gentle on the hair,” adds Anessa Daviero of Headdress Hair Salon.
Best (less expensive) color-safe shampoo for blondes
Non-sulfate free | Scent: Floral | Size: 16 oz. | Purple-depositing pigment
For a third of the price, you can buy the shampoo that Hennings used on blondes like Suki Waterhouse on the set of Daisy Jones & the Six. “I wanted to celebrate and encourage that individuality and self-expression through the form of color, while also using color-safe products to keep the hair looking shiny, healthy, and well-balanced,” she says. The Clairol shampoo is a great option for bleach blondes, as it both protects the color by using purple pigment to neutralize brassy tones, and nurtures the health of the hair with hydrating plant proteins.
Best color-safe shampoo for highlights
Sulfate free | Scent: Green tea | Size: 8.5 ounces | Color-safe ingredients: Macadamia nut oil
Gregorio Ruggeri of Salon Ruggeri loves this David Mallett shampoo for clients who have had a balayage treatment or are highlighted and need to add an extra dose of hydration after the extra stress of these services. “This whole range is as light as a feather but nourishes, heals, and revitalizes effectively,” he promises.
Best color-safe shampoo for brunettes
Sulfate free | Scent: Citrus | Size: 3.38 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: Blue depositing pigment
O’Gara typically tells her clients to wash once a week with a toning shampoo to “stay ahead of the brass that will naturally set in as the oxidation process unfolds in between color services.” She loves Fanola No Orange, a blue pigmented shampoo for brunettes struggling with unwanted orange tones. “One to two applications should subtly tone the hair, extending the life of those pricey highlights,” she adds. But it’s best to use such shampoos no more than once a week, as excessive use can not only dry the hair but cause an overload of purple or blue pigment that leaves the intended color looking drab.
Best color-safe shampoo for redheads
Sulfate free | Scent: Fruity floral | Size: 10 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: Musk-rose oil and antioxidant-rich goji-berry extract
“The most important thing for redheads is to ensure that the color pigment stays put and does not get washed out of the hair,” which can happen with products that have too many sulfates or too many detergents, says Ruggeri. He likes Shu Uemura Color Lustre because it’s infused with musk-rose oil and antioxidant-rich goji-berry extract to protect hair dyed red from fading. Stylist Mark Ryan is another fan, telling us the shampoo will not only enhance shine but “protect your color from fading for weeks.”
Best color-safe shampoo for vibrant colors
Sulfate free | Scent: Cinnamon and dates | Size: 10.1 ounces | Color-protecting ingredient: Cationic guar
“If hair that is colored a vibrant shade, like a red, isn’t cared for between visits, the hair will appear dull and the color will fade away in a much shorter amount of time,” says Rogerio Cavalcante, owner of the Second Floor Salon. “That is why I tell my clients with colored hair to use this shampoo. I find it helps color last longer, but even as the color fades, hair still appears shiny and bouncy.” The shampoo’s ingredients include cationic guar, which Cavalcante says attaches like a magnet to the hair, leaving it silky and smooth. “The smell is also a lovely blend of cinnamon and dates — not too intense, just perfect,” he adds.
Best color-safe shampoo for stressed hair
Sulfate free | Scent: Fruity | Size: 9.2 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: Jasmine and mandarin oil, shea butter
If you’re regularly heading to the salon for heavy treatments, such as blonding (or keratin treatments), Siobhan Benson of CutLoose in Brooklyn recommends a pH balance-restoring shampoo. This one from Mr Smith not only soothes her clients’ stressed hair, but is also extremely “moisturizing to the scalp” — we shouldn’t forget that skin needs some TLC, too. Benson also finds the shampoo’s jasmine and mandarin scent “delightful.”
Best brightening color-safe shampoo
Sulfate free | Scent: Vanilla and cashmere | Size: 8.8 ounces | Color-protecting ingredients: Wheat protein
If you want to preserve your salon-fresh color and add shine, Maria Elizabeth of deZEN salon suggests the pH-balancing Everlasting Color Wash. She says it “gently cleanses the hair close to the cuticle for a shine that helps lock in color”, while also stopping mineral accumulation, which may damage the hair. The result, according to Elizabeth, is a more vibrant color and a glossy sheen to healthier-looking color-treated hair.
• Siobhan Benson, owner of CutLoose BK
• Tara Burke, hairstylist
• Rogerio Cavalcante, owner of the Second Floor Salon
• Fred Connors, owner and creative director of FRED Salon
• Anessa Daviero, hairstylist at Headdress Hair Salon
• Maria Elizabeth, founder of deZEN salon
• Mary Ann Hennings, hair department head on Daisy Jones & the Six
• Jenny Jacome, partner at Fox and Jane
• Brooke Jordan, co-owner of the Bird House
• Lili Keith, Vidal Sassoon-trained hairdresser
• Patti O’Gara, Blackstone NYC colorist
• Gregorio Ruggeri, owner of Salon Ruggeri
• Mark Ryan, hairstylist and co-founder of Mark Ryan Salon
• Christine Thompson, co-founder of Spoke & Weal
• Rio Viera-Newton, Strategist contributor
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