Calling all copper queens! Copper hues are everywhere these days, so it’s time for a rundown on how to keep your color fiery and fresh. If you’re rocking a golden copper, red copper, or paramORANGE, then read on for some tips and tricks on how to care for copper hair.
Start With a Schedule
Copper hair comes in many shades. From strawberry blonde and golden copper to deeper copper reds, this gorgeous, eye-catching color tends to be one of the hardest to keep fresh. But no matter your preference, you can still avoid the dreaded fade. As a stylist and copper babe myself, my number one recommendation is to get on a regular coloring schedule. Whether you visit the salon or take matters into your own hands at home, coloring your hair every four to six weeks is ideal to avoid fading. Depending on the rate of growth and your preferred color service, you may be able to stretch this to eight weeks with a solid at-home routine.
Stylist Tip: If you are coloring your hair at home, avoid pulling permanent color through your ends during every application. This can actually make your ends look duller faster. Best practice calls for permanent on the new roots and demi or semi-permanent pulled through the ends.
Step up Your Shower Game
Once you’ve booked out your future color appointments, or at least set a reminder on your phone, it’s time to look at what you’re using at home between services. Are you opting for color-safe shampoos, conditioners, and styling products? If not, you should be. Believe it or not, these products are formulated to extend the life of your color and do make a huge difference.
You don’t have to run out and buy a whole new product wardrobe (unless you want to). When you run out of something at home, simply replace it with a color-safe option. Need hairspray? Grab one with UV protection. Need shampoo? Reach for one that is sulfate-free and offers color-lock technology. Don’t be nervous that color-safe products will be hard to track down. I guarantee your favorite brand makes a color-safe line that is labeled and easy to find.
Tone at Home
An in-shower toner is a shining star, the holy grail of the at-home copper queen routine. With an in-shower toner (or mask), you can extend the life of your color well past its “expiration” (expiration is defined by outgrowth and this will not take care of roots). There are several in-shower copper color masks you can buy online or in stores, but you can also make your own.
To make your own color mask at home you will need three things: a bottle or tub of your favorite deep conditioner, a tube of the direct dye of your choice, and a jar or Tupperware with a tight-fitting lid. Mixing ratios depend on the desired result and how many applications you are looking to mix up at once. I usually make a large jar so that I have it ready to go throughout the month. Here is a basic guide, but don’t be afraid to experiment:
- 1/2 deep conditioner to 1/2 direct dye for an unnatural orange copper (think bright, fantasy tones)
- 2/3 deep conditioner to 1/3 direct dye for a natural copper
- 3/4 deep conditioner to 1/4 direct dye for lighter, golden, or strawberry copper tones
Mix up your mask, then shampoo and rinse your hair. Apply for as long as you like. Keep it on while you finish your shower for a quick refresh, or leave it on for 20 minutes for deeper repair and a better color deposit. As a general rule, I wouldn’t use this more than once or twice a week as you don’t want to over-proteinize your hair or cause color buildup.
A note on direct dyes: Direct dyes are non-oxidative colors that apply directly to the hair—think Manic Panic, Arctic Fox, Pravana, etc. When choosing your dye, keep in mind that you can mix to your preference. Use straight neon orange, mix in a bit of yellow, a bit of coral, or even red—the tone is all up to you.
Incorporate Sun Care
Like our skin, our hair requires sun care too. Thankfully, there are a lot of product lines that contain UVA/UVB protection. From your basic hair products that feature a UV filter to full-on hair sunscreens and after-sun masks. Now, I wouldn’t say that you need to apply a hair sunscreen daily, but being conscious of how much time you spend outside will determine how much sun care you need to use. If you are an outdoorsy person or work outside, a hair sunscreen would benefit you daily. If you’re only catching rays when you walk from the train to your office door, then a UV hairspray should suffice. Try tracking your sun exposure to see what’s best for you and your copper locks.
Stylist Tip: Speaking of outdoorsy, do you have copper hair and love to swim? Here’s a tip to avoid chlorine damage and that unwanted green hue. Start by rinsing your hair before hopping in the pool. Towel dry or ring it out, then apply a healthy amount of conditioner straight to your scalp and lengths. This will help create a barrier between your hair and the chemicals in the water. It won’t last forever, but it will make a difference.
There are so many ways to keep copper hair fresh, no matter your shade. But for our blondes and brunettes out there, HERE is how to keep your mane maintained!