By Audrey Siva­sothy, author of The Sci­ence of Black Hair: A Com­pre­hen­sive Guide to Tex­tured Hair Care

When it comes to main­tain­ing healthy hair, most folks will tell you— mois­ture is the key. In fact, “mois­ture, mois­ture, mois­ture” is one of the first things we learn as hair care new­bies in this big strange world of hair reg­i­mens and hair care. And let’s face it— when your head is home to one of the most amaz­ing (and yes, thirsti­est) types of hair on the plan­et, you quick­ly learn the val­ue of mois­ture. Cer­tain­ly, water is not the ene­my— or is it? Besides the com­mon bat­tles we all face with dew points, rain and humidity—water enjoys the vil­lain role in anoth­er area of hair care. Col­or preser­va­tion.

If your hair is col­or-treat­ed and you are inter­est­ed in keep­ing it fresh and vibrant, water is more like a “fren­e­my.” Although water (and oth­er mois­tur­iz­ing prod­ucts) is a pri­ma­ry require­ment for the main­te­nance and sta­bil­i­ty of our hair fibers, it always works against col­or reten­tion. While per­ma­nent col­ors resist fad­ing much longer than oth­er types of col­or— even they are no match for water expo­sure over time. No col­or can remain as true as it was on Day 1.

So when does water’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act real­ly kick into high gear?

When You Are Cleansing Too Often

Actu­al­ly, I should prob­a­bly say— when you are cleans­ing too often to main­tain high impact col­or, because “too often” is rel­a­tive depend­ing on whether your goal is hydra­tion or col­or safe­ty. The pri­ma­ry way that water works against col­or fast­ness is through reg­u­lar cleans­ing, espe­cial­ly if you are using the wrong prod­ucts (i.e, harsh shampoos/weak con­di­tion­ers). Dai­ly rins­ing and wash­ing the hair more than 2–3 times per week rarely results in last­ing col­or, although it may be per­fect­ly timed to main­tain the hydra­tion you need.

No mat­ter which type of hair col­or you have used (i.e., per­ma­nent, semi-per­ma­nent or tem­po­rary), each wash ses­sion swells the fiber and pulls a lit­tle col­or from the hair. Tem­po­rary col­ors are always lift­ed fastest because they are super­fi­cial­ly deposit­ed on the hair fiber. Reds give the bright­est punch out of the bot­tle, but are the fastest col­ors to fade because the pig­ments are small and leech eas­i­ly from porous hair. For best results, allow your new hair col­or to set­tle at least a day or two after the ini­tial col­or job before intro­duc­ing water via your sham­poo­ing and con­di­tion­ing process.

When Your Water is Too Hot

Not only is hot water dry­ing to tex­tured hair (col­or-treat­ed or not), but hot water leads to hot hair which also fades and leech­es col­or. Always cleanse and con­di­tion your col­or-treat­ed hair in warm to cool water. After con­di­tion­ing the hair, do a final rinse in the cold­est water you can stand. This final rinse will seal the cuti­cle and impart amaz­ing shine to your strands. If col­or preser­va­tion is your goal, avoid long trysts under the dry­er— what did we say about hot hair again? Hot hair=Bye bye bold col­or! Col­or-treat­ed hair is already some­what porous if it accept­ed your col­or in the first place, so most con­di­tion­ers won’t need extra antics to work well on this type of hair. In fact, con­di­tion­ers always work bet­ter on col­or-treat­ed and oth­er “dam­aged” hair types.

When Your Water is Hard

Sham­poo­ing and con­di­tion­ing your hair in hard water or water that is par­tial­ly chlo­ri­nat­ed will also strip your hair col­or. Hard water loads the hair fiber down with met­al ions and scale that can quick­ly evap­o­rate your shine and vibran­cy— not to men­tion dry your hair out to a crisp. If your water is hard, or if you are a reg­u­lar swim­mer, con­sid­er pur­chas­ing a chelat­ing sham­poo for reg­u­lar col­or main­te­nance. For longer-term results, a good water fil­ter (although expen­sive) may buy you sev­er­al more weeks of vibrant hair col­or.

Although water def­i­nite­ly works against col­or preser­va­tion in a num­ber of ways, it is cer­tain­ly a neces­si­ty in any col­or-treat­ed hair care reg­i­men. Main­tain­ing a prop­er moisture/protein bal­ance with col­or-treat­ed hair is critical—especially when the hair is col­or-treat­ed to the light­est col­ors of the hair col­or palette (the hon­eys, golds, blondes and ambers). Check out The Sci­ence of Black Hair (pp. 181–192) for spe­cif­ic ways to pre­serve your col­or-treat­ed hair with strate­gi­cal­ly placed pro­tein and mois­ture deep con­di­tion­ing treat­ments.

Ladies, how do you main­tain the color/moisture bal­ance in your hair?

Audrey Siva­sothy is a Hous­ton-based free­lance writer, health sci­en­tist and author of The Sci­ence of Black Hair: A Com­pre­hen­sive Guide to Tex­tured Hair Care (avail­able on & Barnes&

For more insight from The Sci­ence of Black Hair— relaxed, nat­ur­al or in between, vis­it us on the web at and on face­book & twit­ter.

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­liste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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19 Comments on "How to Moisturize Color Treated Hair"

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Vee Coily

Umm the title is mis­lead­ing.


For any­body who wants to start out with per­man­wnt hair col­or, try Shea Mois­ture col­ors. Even though no hair col­or is per­fect, I appre­ci­ate that their col­ors lack suflates and parabens. I had a Domini­can blowout for three weeks, then my aunt (hair styl­ist) applied the col­or. She didn’t like that I hadn’t washed it the day before, but the col­or I used (bright auburn) came out per­fect­ly with my 4b hair! How­ev­er, I warn that your curl pat­tern could loosen in some places.

This arti­cle helped me expe­ri­ence on mois­tur­iz­ing tech­niques for my hair.


The arti­cle is titled, “How to mois­tur­iz­er col­or treat­ed hair” and then speaks at length about main­tain­ing the vibran­cy of your col­or.
I just can’t with BGLH


I know right. I thought I was gonna be able to get new ways to keep my col­or mois­tur­ized and keep dam­age away and its a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent top­ic.


I have to agree with Shan­non. I’ve been col­or­ing my hair with box col­or for­ev­er. My hair is just strong I sup­pose. I nev­er have any dam­age. I con­di­tion, mois­tur­ize and seal it does well. I bleached my hair not too long ago. It made my ends a lit­tle straight but they are all good now.


I col­ored my hair the same day I BCed, so I’ve nev­er had nat­ur­al hair with­out col­or. Col­or­ing has nev­er dam­aged my hair and I do it myself and use a box col­or. I just make sure to keep it mois­tur­ized just like every­one else. I spritz it every oth­er day, seal with coconut oil/shea but­ter, deep con­di­tion week­ly.

Everyone’s hair is dif­fer­ent but thank­ful­ly, mine is in pret­ty good shape and my col­or is about as light (if not a lil lighter) than the lady in the pic­ture.

Dougla T.girl

What is the name of this col­or??????????????????????? any­one knows??? please tell me!!!!!!!!!!


I just got my hair col­ored at my stylist’s salon. I just showed her the col­or and she mixed it for me. It is about that same col­or, high­lights and every­thing except the plat­inum ones. If you take it to a pro­fes­sion­al, they may be able to do the same for you


I would just cau­tion every­one to think about it wise­ly. I went to a Lore­al salon & had my entire head dyed with blond high­lights. It def­i­nite­ly stripped my hair of its elas­tic­i­ty & mois­ture. That was in April/May of this year. It caused so many dif­fer­ent types of split ends & break­age. It’s just now start­ing to for­give me. So be cau­tious ladies & pay very close & spe­cial atten­tion to your hair. I still love col­or, but maybe I wouldn’t did as much as I did at once.


I’m crazy excit­ed!!! I just col­ored my hair (Dark and Lovely’s Brown Sug­ar) and I love it! I wish I bought 2 box­es instead of 1, but it’s okay next time. Plus I used my fin­gers instead of a comb so i have a mix­ture of my nat­ur­al col­or (jet black) and the brown, which is nice! :D

Ques­tion: When is is safe to col­or my hair again? Is it two weeks? Or more than that?


I only col­or every three to four months. I def­i­nite­ly wouldn’t be col­or­ing my hair more often than that, cer­tain­ly not with­in a mat­ter of weeks.


Just did high­lites in the front of my head. Love it! It made me love being nat­ur­al again…dont judge me, I get bored eas­i­ly ;-)


No judge­ment here sis­ter! I got high­lights this past sum­mer and I loved it! I went dark again for the fall, and I now miss my bold­er col­or. So, I am itch­ing to do it again come next spring. I went to an Ave­da salon to have it pro­fes­sion­al­ly done, so I have some peace of mind. I mois­tur­ize dai­ly and DT weeke­ly, so I am try­ing to main­tain my mois­ture lev­els.


What hair type do you have? and how were the salon with wash­ing and treat­ing it after the colour?


i got col­or in may of 2010 and noticed that it was hard­er to keep it mois­tur­ized. i thnk that deep con­di­tion­ing and pro­tec­tive styling real­ly helped it main­tain its col­or. as much as it straight­ened my hair, i loved the col­or and what it changed to over the course of time. now i’m get­ting an itch to hen­na… lol

good luck to all of you con­tem­plat­ing col­or­ing. just make sure you know what it can do to your hair. :)


just col­ored and i soo regret it. :(


Great arti­cle. Esp since I just used semi-perm col­or this past week­end


wow, i am lov­ing that col­or on you, it looks absolute­ly amaz­ing with you com­plex­ion!!!


I LOVE her hair col­or. I’ve been want­i­ng to col­or but am a lit­tle hes­i­tant for fear of dam­age. Great article…maybe just maybe I’ll give it a go.