If you’ve ever had your hair lightened or coloured, you’ll know the flip side of your gorgeous crowning glory is the dry hay-like heap your hair can become due to the harsh products used in its transformation.
Bleach and colour can brutally strip your hair, damaging the shaft and cells, creating the perfect storm for split ends.
Anabel Kingsley, Brand President and Consultant Trichologist at Philip Kingsley advises: “Try not to colour or process your hair more than every eight weeks, or overlapping and subsequent breakage are more likely to occur.” She suggests trying a pre-shampoo conditioning mask to keep coloured hair healthy, like Philip Kingsley’s award-winning Elasticizer before your regular wash.
Leave it on damp hair for at least 20 minutes (better yet, stick on a shower cap and sleep in it) to allow the active ingredients in the hydrating formula, originally made for one Audrey Hepburn, to absorb properly into the hair shaft.
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The ingredients to know
Masks aside, what your hair needs is a hard working conditioner full of moisture to keep it nourished and healthy-looking. But with ingredients lists packed with perplexing scientific words, how do you know what to look for?
Ross Williams,senior stylist at SALON64 says: “Clients with coloured hair should look for a protein-based conditioner if the hair is brittle; this will help rebuild the cuticle and strengthen the hair.”
But that’s not all. “Always sulphate-free, and always use conditioners with rich fatty acids and proteins (avocado, plant oils) to repair your hair cuticle,” recommends Chelsey Edmunds, Communications and Campaigns Manager at Escentual.com. It’s all about getting moisture back into parched locks.
With so many options available, we’ve cherry picked the best conditioners out there to care and protect your coloured hair.
See our favourites below
Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner
Olaplex’s loyal band of followers are evangelical about its products, swearing that the lab-like bottles hold miracles. Seniz Alkan, senior colourist at Neville Hair & Beauty is one.
The hair professional says: “Olaplax number 5 conditioner is brilliant because it repairs the bond of the hair and keeps the condition intact. Where conditioner acts as a plaster, Olaplex is the reinforcement within, working on the internal shaft, finding the single bonds and linking them together.”
The No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner nourishes with ingredients like Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate (try saying that quickly after a couple of G&Ts); pure genius for repairing hair at home or in the salon. Use with Olaplex’s 3-4-5 Bond Maintenance System for stronger, softer and shinier results.
£26 | Space NK
Aussie Colour Mate Conditioner
We’ve been fans of Aussie’s nourishing hair care – not to mention that fresh holiday scent – for years. The brand’s Colour Mate collection is specifically designed to treat dyed hair, caring and hydrating it while keeping the colour vibrant. This conditioner contains Australian wild peach in its ingredients, which cleanses and protects your tresses to keep them healthy-looking and shiny.
If you need to call in the big guns, try Aussie Shampoo SOS Deep Repair For Damaged Hair (£5.99) – trust us, it resuscitates knackered, listless locks like nothing else.
£4.19 | Boots
Redken Extreme Conditioner 250ml
The leading brand offers a solution for dry hair in its Extreme Conditioner. They’re not kidding either, it is extreme. Therefore you should only use it for a short period for intensely over-treated hair or as a special hydrating treat 1 to 2 times a week. This is because the protein within could make your hair feel brittle.
Beauty editors have sung this conditioner’s praises: it’s ideal for anyone who has put their hair through the wringer with constant bleaching, dyeing and Brazilian blow dries.
There’s a vegan version also available, Redken Nature + Science Extreme Conditioner 250ml (£16).
£14 | lookfantastic
Maria Nila Luminous Colour Conditioner 300ml
The trouble with over-treated hair is not only does it dry out your strands but it can make them a nightmare to comb through afterwards too. Tugging and pulling at wet hair can damage them further leading to a vicious catch 22.
This pomegranate-extract conditioner feels like butter and comes with a colour guard complex to increase the longevity of your colour too. As a bonus, it fights static too – say goodbye to frizz and flyaways.
£18.99 | Sally
Schwarzkopf Professional BC Bonacure pH 4.5 Colour Freeze Micellar Cleansing Conditioner 500ml
It’s good hair days all the way with Schwarzkopf’s micellar cleansing conditioner, a non-foaming co-wash that cleanses and conditions while keeping colour bright from root to tip. Use it every third wash instead of your usual shampoo and conditioner to help restore your scalp’s natural oils. Sulphate-free.
£17.60 | Escentual *On sale from £23.50
Kerastase Fondant Chromatique Conditioner
Keep your hair halo looking heavenly with Kerastase’s colour protecting conditioner, formulated for colour-treated or highlighted hair. Simply slather on after cleansing with shampoo, wait a few minutes, then wash off for touchably smooth and supple hair. The great thing about this is that it nourishes deeply without weighing down your hair – a good job, because you’ll want to swish your hair around after every use.
£24.80 | Kerastase
£20.50 | Electric London
Function of Beauty bespoke shampoo and conditioner
Hair is such a personal thing with so many issues to address. Aside from dyeing, you may want your conditioner to sort out things like dryness or lack of volume, or just want a nice fragrance to infuse into your locks. In times like these, only bespoke will do.
Enter Function of Beauty, an online beauty brand that whips up shampoo and conditioner based on your specific hair needs. Each duo is made to give your hair everything it needs to look its finest.
What’s more it’s sulfate-, paraben- and cruelty free, as well as being vegan too!
Granted, it is on the pricey side and has to be shipped from the US, but if you’ve tried everything else, this could be a good final resort. Available in two sizes.
Fudge Professional Damage Rewind Conditioner
Need a product that goes deeper? Try this bad boy from Fudge, which comes with Opti-PLEX technology. It sinks into the hair’s core to reconstruct the bonds while smoothing the cuticle and making hair look salon-fresh.
Tracey Hayes, Head of Colour at Fudge Professional says it’s ideal for “chemically damaged, faded or split hair, leaving hair smoother, brighter and healthier.”
£13 | Beauty Bay
Lush Jungle Pressed Conditioner
If you’re looking to cut your plastic consumption, a conditioner in a bar format can help. Lush is a leading brand in plastic-free bath and body products: just take a look at this Jungle conditioner. It’s packed with moisturising cocoa butter and nourishing avocado, which is full of essential fatty acids that work to repair the hair’s surface.
Meanwhile acidic kumquat plumps up the strands, creating a fuller appearance while soya lecithin gives your locks a lustrous shine. The tropical scent is insanely addictive too.
£8.50 | LUSH
Speaking to a number of professionals, one brand kept popping up: Olaplex. Caring for hair inside as well as out, the No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner will revive your barnet for healthy, vibrant-looking hair time after time.
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£26 | Space NK
Aussie Shampoo SOS Deep Repair For Damaged Hair
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£11.50 | Aveda
Bondi Boost’s Miracle Mask
£22.50 | Boots
£6.29 | Superdrug
£24 | Space NK