What To Do About Fading Hair Color?

Last time I posted about hair our Fabulous After 40 hair expert Chris Machlachlan gave us tips on what to do with thin hair.

Today my reader Dana has a question about how to get color to stay put. How do you keep your color looking as fresh and dark as the day you colored it? Chris has these tips.

Hi Chris

At 25, I never dreamed I’d be coloring my hair at 47! Now, at 47, I can’t imagine NOT coloring my hair.


My natural color (best I remember) is a dull, light brown. At this point, I’m over 50% gray (best I can tell). My hair is just below my shoulders with over-grown layers but is fairly full and healthy.

I like to be light brown with blondish highlights, but I simply cannot afford professional upkeep. Coloring myself (L’oreal medium blond) I find that the brown shades fade away within 5 or 6 washes, and I’m back too light long before time to touch up or re-color.

Question: what brand of self-color do you recommend, and what tips can you offer for coloring and staying colored??

Thanks so much, Dana

Hi Dana,

The reason for your color fading quickly is most likely due to your hair being overprocessed and porous, which means your cuticle layer is frayed and allows your color to escape from the inside of the hair shaft. Your best option is to go to a good salon at least once to have them ‘fill’ your hair.

“Filling” is a double process correction where very light hair is filled with the underlying natural pigment, and then a second color on top is a darker shade. It makes the color last a lot longer because the second color has a healthier hair shaft to attach itself to. Once you have the color you want you can maintain it yourself.

The second trick is to not pull your color through every time which is why it is damaged, to begin with. Just touch up your roots and pull it through every third or fourth time to refresh it. Once you have your color, the best way to help it last is to not wash it too often, but when you do wash it, use a really good quality shampoo for color-treated hair. I like Redken, and Aveda. You can also use a conditioner that has some pigment in it, to help keep your color truer.

Lastly, you can choose a shade darker to start with and will get a little more longevity, if you can handle a darker shade.

Good Luck.

Chris Maclachlan is a top hairstylist with over 15 years of experience in the industry. She is passionate about helping all woman find their own style and feel their best, no matter age, shape, or size.

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One thought on “What To Do About Fading Hair Color?

  1. The advice about just doing roots and not pulling the color through sounds easy enough to follow, but with my hair, the color of my hair when I reach the point that my roots need touched up is entirely different than the color I started with. If I only did the bases and didn’t pull the color all the way through, I’d be left with two-tone hair. I generally don’t pull the color through until the last 10 minutes, but the color difference can be a little awkward. I wish there were a gentle alternative to such frequent coloring.

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