Even the most renowned hair stylists in the world still believe that shampoos and conditioners formulated for color-treated hair are necessary. You know who doesn’t believe that? The cosmetics chemists who create the formulas and know better. Believe it or not, the biggest enemies to hair color are sun, heat styling, and water. There is not a single ingredient found in nature or created in a lab that has been shown to prolong hair color. Remember, the people who are trying to convince you otherwise are also trying to make you believe that you can repair split ends.
Compare a shampoo formulated for colored hair to an “all purpose” shampoo from the same line and see what difference you can find in the ingredients. Google every ingredient featured prominently in the former and see if you can find any evidence whatsoever that it helps fight fading. No? Thought so. That is not to say that there are no products that strip color–it’s just that nearly every hair product on the market now has remarkably similar ingredients, the vast majority of which do not harm color. Also, keep in mind that some colors fade faster from hair than other. If any of those color protecting products actually worked, you would never hear another faux-redhead complain about fading again.
The only thing you can really do to prevent fading is to wear a hat to protect your hair from UV light, shampoo less frequently (because of the water, not shampoo!), and keep heat styling to a minimum. As I mentioned in my post about sunscreen, UV rays cause dye molecules to oxidize and lead to brassy hair. A spray sunscreen is another option for protecting color. As for protecting hair from the damage you’re doing in the shower, put the money you would’ve spent on a fancy set of “color-safe” shampoo and conditioner, and get a shower cap and a good dry shampoo. Even shampoos with sulfates are fine for your hair–really! (That said, avoid sodium lauryl sulfate, because it’s bad for your scalp–sodium laureth sulfate is much more gentle.) Color-depositing conditioners are another option I would recommend, but keep your expectations realistic. Stay vibrant!