We’ve all been there. Stepping out the salon with the perfect hair colour – but, just weeks later, noticing that most of the colour has, quite literally, disappeared down the plughole.

We in the UAE understand it well, as Vesna Ivetic, Senior Stylist at Pastels Salon Ritz-Carlton (pastels-salon.com), explains: ‘With the climate we have it is even more important to take good care of our hair. The combination of wind, sun and water will have a natural oxidation on the hair and will make the hair dry, which in turn makes the colour fade and become dull.’

But short of giving up and embracing our natural colour (shock, horror), is there anything we can do to prevent it?

Thankfully, there are steps we can take – and they are getting more innovative by the day. If you had the time and budget to jump on a flight to the US, for example, there’s a new product on the block that promises to be the answer to our hair colour dreams. Not yet on UAE shores (but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it lands soon), Living Proof Timeless Pre-Shampoo Treatment was developed by a team of scientists specifically to prevent hair colour fade.

But what exactly is it? This clever – and seriously well-developed product – promises to keep hair colour looking fresh and vibrant for longer. Formulated with colour seal technology that insulates the hair before you even step into the shower, you simply apply it to dry hair, spend five minutes relaxing, and then wash hair as usual.

‘The majority of your colour is lost by simply rinsing your hair with water in the shower,’ says Eric Spengler, SVP of research and development at Living Proof. ‘Even if you use a mild shampoo, you still lose more from the water rinse itself.’

The product also contains UV and thermal protectants to improve overall hair health, which helps to lock in colour. Eric says: ‘Damaged hair is more porous, and more porous hair loses colour from rinsing more easily.’ The product certainly sounds impressive, but until it travels to UAE shores, we’ll need to resort to other methods to save our colour – and there are plenty of ways to do it…

1 Wash less frequently

Believe it or not, the easiest way to save our hair colour is to not wash our tresses too much.

‘Colour’s worst enemy is water,’ says New York City hair colourist Ruth Roche. ‘In fact, the latest research shows as much as 80 per cent of colour fade is caused by water alone, not shampooing or scrubbing.’

Daily hair washing should be off the menu if you want to conserve that hair colour (time to get acquainted with dry shampoo) – but so are those moments where you stand under the water for 10 minutes to pause and think. It might be relaxing, but your colour is washing away as you stand there. ‘Once you have shampooed and conditioned, don’t tilt your head back and let the water just run over it for several minutes,’ advises Teca Gillespie, a scientist with P&G.

Love a hot shower? Bad idea – it decreases the life of hair colour, so at the end rinse with the coldest water you can stand.

2 Keep it cool

You also need to pay attention to the temperature of the water when you do step under the shower. Hot water doesn’t only dry out your skin – it can also decrease the life of your hair colour.

CHI stylist Shawnee Heltsley explains: ‘The temperature opens up your cuticle releasing your precious colour. I always tell my clients to shampoo and rinse with room-temperature water, towel dry, condition, and then rinse with the coldest water you can stand to seal that cuticle shut.

‘This will provide longer-lasting colour, keeping your locks nice and hydrated, while also eliminating split ends.’

3 Pick your shampoo carefully

Time to stop choosing shampoos and conditioners based on promises of volume, shine, or manageability – if you want to preserve colour, you need to find products that are labelled specifically for coloured hair.

‘Colour-safe products don’t contain alcohol, have low sulphate levels and often contain extra moisturising elements, emollients 
and proteins to smooth the cuticle, giving hair lustre and shine,’ says Kyle White, lead colourist at Oscar Blandi in New York City.

The most important ingredient to avoid is sulphates – so study the label before you buy. Look for sulphate-free cleansing ingredients such as sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate, ammonium cocoyl isethionate, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, decyl glucoside, cocamidopropylamine oxide, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, and sodium lauryl sulfoacetate. These mild cleansers will provide foam that cleans your hair quickly and rinses out easily, thus limiting exposure to that colour-sapping water for longer than needed.

Likewise, you need to avoid styling products containing alcohol to keep your colour vibrant. If you find that impossible, make sure that it isn’t listed in the top five ingredients, as this means it appears in a smaller concentration in the formula and will be kinder to your hair.

Love your twice-weekly blow-dries? Apply a heat protection spray or lightweight oil before heat treatment.

4 Use heat protection products

Regular use of heat stylers like hairdryers, straighteners and curlers can fade your colour fast – so apply a heat protection spray or lightweight hair oil (from roots to lengths) to your hair before using them.

Celebrity colourist Michael Boychuck adds: ‘Staying away from your hot tools the first week after colouring your hair will also prevent the colour from fading.’

5 Protect hair from the sun

It’s not the easiest task when you live in an eternal summer in the UAE, but regularly stepping out into the sunshine is one of the fastest ways to fade your hair colour – so it pays to take some steps to provide your locks before you hit the beach.

Stylist Danielle at Toni & Guy Dubai (toniandguyuae.com) says: ‘When exposing your hair to the sun, wear a hat or bandana or at the very least, apply heat protection spray to protect hair and scalp from heat and UV rays.’

6 Protect hair from chlorine

Another hair-colour-pitfall of living in the UAE is that we spend a lot of time dipping into swimming pools – but pool water contains chlorine and that is bad news for our hair.

‘Plunging your hair into a body of chlorine isn’t exactly the best idea,’ warns celebrity hairstylist Richard Collins, who has worked with stars including Helen Mirren, Patricia Arquette and Vanessa Hudgens. ‘Ideally you should avoid swimming in pools with chlorine as it will fade your colour – but if you do swim, using a leave-in conditioner can reduce fading.’

New-York based colourist Ryan Pearl adds: ‘I often advise clients to mix conditioner and water together in a spray bottle and to spray the mixture before and after dipping in the pool.’

If you have blonde hair, you need to be especially careful – dips in chlorinated water can cause a greenish tinge to your locks, which definitely isn’t the look you were intending when you stepped into the salon. UK-based Creative Director Leanne Russell says: ‘Stay away from swimming pools for at least a week after your colour service – and always have your colour topped up a week before your holiday, and not last minute.’

Shopping list

Color Wow Color Security shampoo Dh140, and Conditioner Dh140, Glamazle.com

Hair scarf Dh39, H&M

Philip B Russian Amber Imperial Dry Shampoo Dh145, Basharacare.com

Balanced Guru No Frizz Oil Dh110, Glamazle.com

Kerastraight Sun Protection Spray Dh130, Pastels Salon

Joelle Paris Color Protect Mask Dh130, Wojooh.com

label.m Heat Protection Spray Dh78, Toni & Guy

Zara Sun Hat Dh129 (zara.com)