Regular Shampoo VS Shampoo For Color-Treated Hair

You have just colored your hair, and you may be wondering whether you should continue with your regular shampoo or try a shampoo for color-treated hair. What is the difference, after all?

In this article we will take a look at the purported benefits of shampoo for color-treated hair and whether it is worth investing in compared to regular shampoo.

The Difference Between Regular Shampoo And Shampoo For Color-Treated Hair

What Is The Difference Between Regular Shampoo And Shampoo For Color-Treated Hair

Shampoos for color-treated hair contain gentle cleansers that will not strip your hair of moisture whereas regular shampoos may contain harsher surfactants. 

Shampoos for color-treated hair should also contain rich conditioning ingredients and possibly proteins that will moisturize and restore your dyed hair.

Some color shampoos also contain dyes or pigments to enhance your hair color.

What Is Shampoo For Color-Treated Hair?

Shampoo for color-treated hair usually contains gentle cleansing agents, along with nourishing, conditioning ingredients.

This is to ensure the health of color-treated hair, maximize color vibrancy and reduce color fade.

Although many shampoos these days do not contain harsh cleansers like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), in theory, color shampoos should contain gentler cleansing ingredients that will not strip the hair of its natural oils.

They may be sulfate-free, though many mainstream color shampoos still contain SLS’s gentler cousin, sodium Laureth sulfate.

The main difference is many color shampoos specifically contain rich, conditioning ingredients to help restore the health of colored and processed hair.

This is because dying and bleaching your hair can dry out the hair and make it more prone to frizz and breakage.

Benefits Of Using Shampoo For Color-Treated Hair Vs Regular Shampoo

woman with bright red hair smiling

Reduces Hair Damage And Breakage

Coloring your hair takes a toll on your hair’s health. Using shampoo for color-treated hair will help to protect your hair from breakage and damage.

Retain Moisture And Shine

Dyed hair can become dry and brittle. Using a shampoo for color-treated hair can help infuse your hair with some much-needed moisture and shine, restoring your hair’s natural texture.

Counterbalance Unwanted Tones

Many color shampoos contain dyes or pigments that help to counterbalance unwanted tones in your freshly colored hair.

They will help to eliminate unwanted yellow undertones, brassiness, and color fading.

Save Money

Color-safe shampoos usually cost the same as regular shampoo, however, you could end up saving money in the long run.

This is because color-safe shampoos contain ingredients that are designed to prolong the life of your hair color, so you can spend less money (and time) at the salon.

Gentle Cleansing Ingredients

Many shampoos for colored hair are sulfate-free or contain gentle cleansing ingredients such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine that won’t prematurely fade your color or strip your hair of natural oils.

Less Frizz

Shampoo that is specially formulated for colored hair should cleanse the hair while maintaining a healthy pH balance.

The moisturizing ingredients will smooth your hair and make it less frizzy.

What About Color-Depositing Shampoos?

woman with copper brown hair having her hair washed

Some shampoos for color-treated hair also contain dyes or pigments to enhance your current hair color.

An example is violet shampoo, which adds cool violet tones to bleached hair to counterbalance brassy or orange tones.

These dyes or pigments are rinse-off. They may create a subtle tint of color to make your existing color look more defined.

These dyes will wash off down the drain and be replaced each time you wash your hair.

Be careful when using these products as the dye can get on your towels and stain your bathroom.

Can You Use Color Shampoo Every Day?

You should avoid using color shampoo every day if your hair has been dyed.

This is because it is recommended that colored hair is not washed every day, to help maintain its color and vibrancy.

Water swells the hair strand and lifts the cuticle so that dye molecules can escape from the matrix of your hair.

Think about it: if you washed your colored hair every day, that color would soon be quite literally going down the drain.

It is recommended that you wash colored hair 2-3 times a week or every other day at the absolute maximum. This will help ensure the longevity of your color, and help to maintain the health of your hair.

Even if your hair is not dyed, washing your hair every day can over-dry your hair; most people do not need to wash their hair every day.

Using shampoo for colored hair on wash days will help to maintain the vibrancy and depth of your color.

Can I Use Color Shampoo For Regular Hair

Yes. It’s perfectly fine to use shampoo for color-treated hair, even if your hair is not colored.

Many color-safe shampoos contain gentle cleansing ingredients and rich moisturizing ingredients that are good for your hair’s health.

Some may contain protein, which is great if your hair is dry and damaged or if you regularly heat-style your hair.

Color shampoos may be especially of benefit if your hair tends toward the drier or frizzier side. And as an added bonus, many color-safe shampoos smell delicious!

So, if you can’t find a scent you like among the regular shampoos in the beauty aisle, don’t be afraid to use a shampoo for color-treated hair.

However, always check the label first, as some shampoos that are marketed as ‘color-safe’ can still contain strong surfactants such as ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, TEA-dodecylbenzenesulfonate, and C14-16 olefin sulfonate.

Can I Use Regular Shampoo on Color-Treated Hair?

It depends. What is most important when it comes to cleansing colored hair is the gentleness of the ingredients.

Many color-safe shampoos can make a big difference in the longevity of your hair color when compared to regular shampoos.

You need shampoos that are free of harsh cleansing chemicals, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

Many color-safe products also contain extra conditioning and restoring ingredients to keep your colored hair healthy and hydrated.

However, it is not absolutely necessary that you use a shampoo that is marketed as ‘color-safe’. Look for sulfate-free shampoos or shampoos that contain gentle cleansers, such as:

  • sodium lauryl methyl isethionate
  • ammonium cocyl isethionate
  • cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine
  • cocamidopropylamine oxide decyl glucoside
  • sodium lauryl sarcosinate
  • sodium lauryl sulfoacetate

At the very least, avoid SLS and use shampoos that contain gentler cleansers than SLS instead.

Make sure you avoid clarifying shampoos at all costs, as these contain harsh cleansers which strip the hair, and will speed up the color-fading process even more.

Frequently asked questions

How Many Days Can You Wash Your Hair After Coloring?

You should wait at least 48 hours before first washing your hair after having it colored. 72 hours is even better.

Can I Rinse My Hair With Cold Water After Dying It?

You don’t have to rinse your hair with ice-cold water, but it should definitely be cool or lukewarm, rather than hot. This will help to seal the cuticle and lock in your new color.

What Is The Hardest Hair Color To Maintain?

Generally speaking, the hardest colors to maintain are red, platinum blonde, silver, and ‘crazy colors’ such as pink and blue.

How Often Should You Refresh Your Hair Color?

You can safely re-dye your hair every 6 to 8 weeks if you are using a demi-permanent or permanent hair dye. These dyes contain harsh chemicals so it is not recommended you dye your hair more frequently than that. Temporary and semi-permanent dyes can be used more frequently as they don’t damage the hair.

Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.

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Nicola Sloan

Nicola is a freelance writer and researcher whose specialisms lie in health and wellness, beauty, and psychology. She has fine, wavy hair and is a big fan of co-washing every alternate day between shampoos (as dry shampoo makes her sneeze!)