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Check Your Bottles — These Ingredients Can Wreck Color-Treated Hair

While labels like color-safe can be helpful, it’s best to be aware of which ingredients you should avoid so you don’t accidentally wash away the vibrant hue.

Celebrity stylist, hair expert, and co-founder of dpHue Justin Anderson and hairstylist Gretchen Trukenbrod from Oscar Blandi Salon gave us the inside scoop on exactly what to look out for when buying new hair care products to use on color-treated hair. This includes those who have full head color, highlights, or get root touch-ups.

We’ll start with the more obvious culprits: sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, etc.), alcohols (ethanol or propanol), and sodium chloride (salt). The first two ingredients are types of sulfates. These are frequently used in shampoos because they help create a foamy lather. While satisfying, it’s not the best for your hair. These will likely cause your color to wash out and leave you with a faded, dull look.

Parabens should be avoided in general when it comes to hair care products, as they have been shown to build up in the body with regular use. As far as your hair and overall health goes, it’s best to steer clear. Alcohol, seen as ethanol or propanol, can dry out your hair and create a frizzy texture–those with color-treated hair are already more prone to dryness, so you might want to keep an eye out for these players. The same goes for sodium chloride: Salt in your hair products will rob your strands of moisture and interfere with the color you’ve put into it.

As for the sneakier ingredients that can strip your color, you’ll want to look out for clarifying or purifying agents–charcoal, salicylic acid, and the like. That’s not to say you can’t use a scalp scrub or clarifying shampoo once in a while, but just know that these ingredients can slowly lift the dye from your strands. (And if the product also includes sulfates or salt, the process can happen even quicker.) It’s not a huge issue, especially if you opt for permanent dye, but know that a few rounds may fade your color over time.

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