How to Maintain Your Hair Color While Social Distancing

Read this before you buy an at-home hair color kit.

Since the coronavirus pandemic is keeping salons closed indefinitely, managing your hair color is now literally in your own hands. But before adding the first at-home hair color kit that looks like a match to your online cart, close that browser tab, text your colorist, and together, come up with a hair color maintance plan.

While it's physically impossible to go to salons right now, digital services are a helpful option that will save you time, money, and color-correcting mistakes once the COVID-19 curve has flattened. "We're in a moment right now where people really want to help one another," says Rachel Bodt, a colorist based in New York City, "Reach out to see what your colorist can do for you."

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When all is said and done, preserving your hair color comes down to keeping things simple. "Stick to simple treatments like gray coverage, single process color, and glosses," suggests Bodt. "Don't attempt any at-home bleaching or highlighting. It's really about stretching your color out and making it look a little bit better."

Here, Bodt shares her tips on how to maintain your hair color at home. Consider this your new routine until salons reopen.

Call Your Colorist

Even though all salons are closed for the foreseeable future, your colorist might be able to help you with your color over FaceTime or Zoom. On top of getting a professional opinion that could save you months of color correction, it's a way to support your colorist when they can't work.

"A few salon owners are going into their salons and putting together color kits for their clients who get color every two to three weeks and sending it to them," says Bodt. "If your salon isn't doing that, reach out to your colorist and see what they recommend."

Bodt suggests using an at-home coloring kit from Madison Reed or Color&Co. Both of these companies mix up professional colors based on quizzes they have on their websites. "I take the quiz with my clients over the phone to help them choose the right shade," says Bodt. "Once they get the kit, I'll jump on a video call with them so I can tell them how to mix the color, where to start applying it, and give them tips throughout the process."

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How to Use an At-Home Hair Color Kit

Even though at-home hair color kits are popular, not everyone has experience dying their own hair. Luckily, there's a few tricks that can help you sail through your first time. Before mixing the color, Bodt suggests putting on a collared shirt to prevent dye from getting all over, and tracing your hairline with Vaseline or Chapstick so the color doesn't stain your skin.

If you're not social distancing alone, give your partner, roommate, or mom a pair of gloves because they can apply the color to the back sections of your head.

Stick to Your Roots

Dyeing just your roots will cover up any regrowth without messing up the rest of your hair color — especially if you have multidimensional balayage or ombré highlights. To keep the color from sticking to the rest of your hair, Bodt says to apply a deep conditioning mask on your mid-lengths and ends before painting the dye onto your roots. "If you don't have deep conditioner or mask, you can put coconut oil on the mid-lengths to ends so that the color doesn't run beyond your roots," she adds.

How to Hide Your Roots Without Dyeing Your Hair

If the thought of potentially messing up your hair color freaks you out too much to use a dye kit, a root touch up product is going to be your best friend until salons reopen. These temporary colors will last until your next hair wash day.

Bodt suggests using TRESemme Root Touch-Up Spray, or Color Wow's Root Cover Up, is a powder compact that's great for small areas like your temples or directly around your part.

"If you do your hair in a slicked-back ponytail, you can tap a little bit of the product on your part and at the temples, and it will look so much better," she suggests.

Use Color-Depositing Shampoo and Conditioner

To preserve the tone of your color, add a color-depositing shampoo or conditioner to your hair-washing routine. Use these products once or twice a week to neutralize brassiness and add a bit of pigment to your existing hair color.

Blondes should go for a violet or purple shampoo like Kristin Ess' The Purple Shampoo. For dark ash brown or black hair, try MATRIX Total Results Dark Envy Color-Depositing Green Shampoo, while redheads will benefit from a red-tone formula like John Frieda Color Infuse Red Shampoo.

Alternatively, a color-depositing mask will refresh your color, too. Garnier Nutrisse Color Reviver Color Reviver 5 Minute Nourishing Color Hair Mask and Leonoryl Greyl Color-Enhancing Conditioner are two options that come in a wide range of colors and undertones.

Don't Over-Shampoo Your Hair

Yes, it's in the best interest of your hair color that you don't shampoo too often. When you do wash your hair, rinse it off with cool water to seal the cuticle. This will prevent your hair color from further fading and adding brassiness.

The same goes for heat styling. If you're still doing your hair ahead of Zoom calls, Bodt suggests turning the temperature of your flat iron or curling wand down by 100 degrees. Less heat gives your hair a break, and in turn, extends the lifespan of your color.

Do a Ton of Hair Treatments

Focus on treatments that strengthen hair and boost shine. "If you're not doing treatments, start doing them now because it's a really good way to preserve your color and give your hair a break," says Bodt.

For anyone who had their last hair color appointment shortly before social distancing, use a gloss treatment like Color Wow's Pop & Lock Crystallite Shellac. The gloss makes hair look shinier by sealing the cuticle to lock in moisture.

And if your hair is dry and damaged from coloring and using hot tools, Bodt suggests rotating weekly treatments. Start with a reparative protein treatment like Virtue Labs Restorative Treatment Mask, then use a moisturizing mask like Aveeno Hydrating Oat Milk Blend Overnight Oats Hair Mask the next week. On the third week, go with a bond-repairing treatment such as Olaplex Bond Perfector No.3.

The final word: One of the benefits of being at home is that you can do these treatments as you work. "If you're doing a Zoom call, you put a treatment in your hair and style it in a slicked-back bun to mask it," says Bodt. A genius idea.

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