10 Blonde Hair Maintenance Products That Help When I Can’t See My Colorist
You hear about those people who move across the country and fly back and forth for appointments with their longtime hair stylists, but I always thought that kind of thing was reserved for celebrities or the really, really rich, and also kind of ridiculous... until I was put in a similar situation. A year ago, I moved a couple hundred miles — or about a three-hour drive — away from my colorist; and yes, I still schedule in weekend trips to see him about twice a year for my blonde hair maintenance. Is that over-the-top? A little. But to make up for the indulgence, I’ve become really vigilant about keeping my balayage highlights looking fresh between appointments.
For starters, I don’t use the typical purple shampoos and conditioners that supposedly tone brassy blonde. “Violet shampoos are meant to balance out yellow, but the more toning shampoos people begin to use, the more it builds up in the hair and makes it look muddy with product,” Dell Miller, the Master Colorist at Spoke & Weal salon in West Hollywood (who does my hair — and Kate Bosworth’s), tells The Zoe Report. Instead, I focus on keeping my blonde from getting brassy in the first place by using a vitamin C-infused shower head filter from Vitaclean. The vitamin C essentially grabs onto minerals in the water — like chlorine and copper, which can make hair look dull — before they can infiltrate the hair cuticle.
The rest of my routine is all about protection, since damage is often more noticeable on bright, blonde strands. “I always tell my blonde clients to put down the flat iron,” Ryan Sanger, a colorist at Salon Kazumi in Beverly Hills, tells me. “The extreme heat and repeated use on lightened blonde hair is guaranteed to result in damage over time.” For this reason, OUAI’s Air Dry Foam has become my new best friend — it magically transforms my freshly-showered hair into low-key waves, sans heat tools. I mix in a bit of Oribe Power Drops Color Preservation Booster for good measure. “This is an extra step to preserving your color, and also protects from UV damage, which is a necessary daily ritual here in California,” Caitlin Richardson, the owner of Los Angeles’ Blonde/Blond salon, tells TZR.
Ahead, the 10 products I swear by to protect my color between appointments — with nary a purple shampoo in sight.
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My color maintenance starts with the basics. Ever since I installed this shower head from Vitaclean in my bathroom, my showers not only smell ahhh-mazing (thanks to citrus-y vitamin C and the essential oils in the filter), but my blonde looks more radiant.
I’m not huge on purple shampoo, but I do love a good “color preserving” formula, like this one from stylist Guy Tang’s #mydentity line. I suds up with this about once a week (in between more clarifying and dandruff-fighting formulas) to keep the brass at bay. And since I’m all about a coordinating shampoo and conditioner situation, I always finish off with a handful of its softening, smoothing counterpart.
Bleaching my hair is damaging enough — I don’t need to add heat damage on top of that. I skip the blow dryer and diffuser in favor of this genius air dry product from OUAI. It’s made with kale protein (which is apparently great for waves?) and allows me to wash and go.
I live in perpetually-sunny Southern California, so my hair is always exposed to UV rays (not that I’m complaining!). This stuff keeps it protected from the elements and, as a result, looking fresh.
When I get my color touched up, I make sure to do a deep conditioning treatment with this pro-level mask afterwards, per Sanger. “It’s definitely important to use after fresh color, to put back that moisture and the nutrients that the hair lacks after lightening,” he says.
After my last purple shampoo disaster — my hair literally looked grey — I got back on track with the help of Miller’s favorite blonde-balancing product, Malibu C. “Malibu treatments are essentially vitamin C that goes into the hair and attached to any mineral or pollution,” he says. “You typically sprinkle the powdered treatment in your hair with hot water and shampoo. Using friction to massage and scrub the product through the hair, it begins to release any buildup, leaving your hair clean and clear of any debris.”
If you, like me, live in an area with hard water, try Davines Minu Shampoo, which is specifically formulated for color-treated hair. “Gentle and moisturizing, Minu has been a staple of mine since the day it came out,” Richardson says. “With harsh LA water, it’s a lifesaver.”
Before I hop in the shower, I wet my hair down with Aquis 01 Prime Water Defense PreWash. Bleached hair is prone to dryness, but this spray keeps strands from losing moisture during the cleansing process by filling the hair cuticle with hydrating ingredients, like coconut and avocado oils.
I won’t go to the beach, jump in a pool, or sit in a hot tub without first saturating my strands with leave-in conditioner. This hack keeps chlorine, which has the tendency to give blonde hair a green cast, from doing any damage.