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What Hair Color Fades the Slowest (and the Fastest)?

African American businesswoman with naturally brown hair that has red-brown shades after using Arctic Fox dye.

Looking for a hair color that doesn’t fade fast? Not only is a slow fading color perfect for a low-maintenance look, but it eliminates the headache of having to do frequent touch-ups.

The issue comes in when determining which hair dye color fades the slowest – there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. In this article, we’ll clear the air and tell you which hair color fades the slowest. 

What Hair Color Fades the Slowest? 

Dark colors such as brown and black take longer to fade. It’s because these dark hair dyes are composed of small molecules that penetrate the hair deeply. As a general rule, hair colors with small molecules have stronger staying power than those with larger molecules. 

If your hair is naturally brown or black, a dark permanent dye should last at least six weeks before beginning to fade away. If your natural hair is a lighter color, the dye will start fading a bit sooner, around the third or fourth week. 

And as an added plus, no matter your natural color, bleach will not be required to dye your hair to a darker shade. So, dark hair colors are also associated with healthier hair outcomes.

Cute black female with a caramel skin tone wearing recently dyed hair with the Manic Panic product line.

What Hair Color Fades the Quickest? 

Red is at the top of the list of quick-fading hair colors. This is because red hair dye molecules are extremely large compared to those of other colors.

Due to its large molecule size, red hair dye molecules are not able to penetrate the hair’s cortex deep enough for a long-term change. Because of this, red hair dye is very easy to remove with water. Add shampoos and other hair products into the mix, and the dye will fade even faster. 

On average, red hair dye (even intense red shades) will begin to fade after just two weeks. Although, you will still be able to see the red hair dye for a few weeks after fading begins, even though it fades the fastest. 

3 Factors Affecting How Long Hair Dye Lasts

Getting your hair dye to last for a long time is a bit more complicated than simply selecting a dark hair dye. There are several additional factors that affect how long hair dye lasts, and we’ll cover them in this section: 

African American woman with black hair wearing a purple shirt researching "grey hair" on her laptop.

Your Natural Hair Color 

Your current hair color is a significant determining factor in how long your hair dye will last. The more you bleach your natural hair to achieve the desired color, the faster the color may fade. 

Hair Dye Type

The hair dye type you choose also plays a role in how long the color will last. For example, semi-permanent hair dye coats the cuticle of the hair with pigment – it doesn’t penetrate the cortex. As a result, it only lasts for a few weeks in most cases. 

Permanent hair dye, on the other hand, penetrates the hair on a much deeper level, so it lasts longer. On average, you can expect permanent hair dye to last two months or longer.

Choosing a permanent hair dye is best for lasting results. As a caveat, permanent hair dye may be harsher on natural hair.  

Cute black girl with 3A hair with pastel shades in a business meeting with colleagues.

Inadequate Post Dye Care

Caring for your colored tresses is important to maximizing the life of the color. Allowing your hair to get dry and brittle will accelerate color fade, and so will using non-color-safe shampoos—more on this in the following sections. 

How To Prevent Premature Color Fade 

Preventing premature color fade is easier than you might think. Here are some tried-and-true methods you can use to keep your hair color vibrant for as long as possible:

Keep Your Hair Healthy 

The first step in preserving your hair dye is to keep your hair healthy. Dry, damaged hair is prone to color fade. Though it absorbs hair dye quickly, the color tends to also wash away quickly. Here’s what you need to do to keep your hair healthy: 

  • Stay away from hair products that contain harsh chemicals, including perms and relaxers. 
  • After washing your hair, use a rinse-out conditioner or a deep conditioner to rehydrate it.
  • Moisturize your hair between washes, using leave-in conditioners and other moisturizing oils and creams. 
A confident lady wearing 3A natural curls with a purple shirt and white pants in an office building.

Choose A Permanent Hair Dye

Though semi-permanent dyes are less damaging to the hair, they don’t last as long as permanent hair dye. So, if your main priority is longevity, a permanent dye is your best bet. Just make sure that your hair is already in good condition prior to coloring it. 

Develop Protective Habits

Using hair products that are specifically designed for colored hair can extend the life of your hair color. So, you should use hair products that are labeled color-safe. They contain ingredients that won’t strip your hair color. In that same vein, here are some products to avoid: 

  • Products that have the potential to strip your hair color, such as dandruff shampoos.
  • Shampoos and conditioners that contain sulfates, like sodium laureth sulfate. Sulfates are harsh detergents that strip away all oils and debris from your hair. Unfortunately, they can also strip your hair color and leave your curls super dry. 

Wash Your Hair Mindfully

There’s a right and a wrong way to wash your color-treated hair. Here are some tips that you can use to make your washes colored-hair friendly: 

African American female wearing casual clothes with kinky curly wash and go hairstyle.
  • Keep the water temp low. We all love a good piping hot shower, but if you are trying to preserve your hair color, you may have to do without it. There is nothing worse than watching your brand-new hair color run down the drain as you shower. But that’s exactly what you’ll get if you wash your hair with hot water. The high temperature of the water opens up your hair cuticles, making it easy to rinse the color away. So, we urge you to turn your water temperature down as much as you can to seal in moisture and promote maximum color longevity. 
  • Wash infrequently. Every time you wash your hair, a bit of the color will be washed away, no matter what precautions you take. So, if you typically wash your hair a lot, consider reducing your wash days to once every few days to a week. Better yet, try to wait as long as possible to wash your hair after applying the dye of your choice. 
  • Try a color-depositing shampoo or conditioner. Color depositing shampoos and conditioners come in handy when you need to keep your color vibrant in between salon touch-ups. They re-dye your hair to keep your color bright. 

Limit Heat Usage

Using hot tools like a flat iron or blow dryer during the styling process can result in the color fading. The heat not only strips away moisture from your hair but can lead to damaged hair cuticles that can’t hold onto the color pigments.

If you cannot part with your flat iron, consider investing in a quality thermal protection cream for your hair. 

Black girl wearing platinum blonde earrings while researching which hair colour fades faster than other hair dyes.

Protect Your Hair from The Sun 

Whenever you will be going outside for extended periods of time, be sure to grab a hat. The sun’s UV rays are a leading cause of premature color fade.

Related Articles

Let’s face it, no one wants to have to re-color their hair every few weeks – it’s not only expensive, but it’s time-consuming. So, choosing a hair color that fades slowly is a prudent choice for most.

Going with a darker color is great because the fading process is much more natural and gradual.  We hope that this article has answered all of your questions about this topic, and we wish you the best with your next hair color change!