Maintaining Colour with the Curly Girl / Hair Method

Maintaining Colour with the Curly Girl / Hair Method

Posted by Lisa C. on

Many of us (myself included) enjoy using all types of colour and highlights on our hair.  Perhaps it is for fun - just a change up - or you want to cover up the greys.  Either way you can still easily do this and follow the Curly Girl / Hair Method.

Since the Method uses gentler cleansers and has a focus on conditioning and treatments, it is perfect to keep your hair and scalp healthy and it can also help preserve your colour.

woman with curly coloured hair

The shampoos that are used in the Method are formulated with gentle cleaning ingredients. Some (not all) of the gentle ingredients you might want to look for in a colour-safe low poo are:

  • Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Sodium Cocoyl glutamate
  • Glucosides (Coco, Decyl, Lauryl)
  • Sodium Sulfosuccinate

Even a clarifying shampoo with an olefin sultanate is still gentle.  Shampoos with the harsher sulfates/sulphates like sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate that are the ones you want to avoid if you're worried about maintaining your colour.


Conditioner is a key part of the Curly Girl / Hair Method and very important to help retain colour even if it's temporary.  After rinsing your conditioner - be it a regular rinse-out,  a deep conditioner, or even a leave-in - these ingredients will form a nice film around each hair protecting it from light, heat, etc.  It also helps to smooth the cuticle down which in turn will reduce frizz.

Bond-Repairing Treatments

Our hair is made of a keratin structure, which is reinforced by so-called hair bonds. There are 3 types of bonds that make up the hair structure: 

  • Disulfide bonds, which are damaged by bleach and chemical treatments;
  • Salt bonds, which are damaged by sudden pH imbalance;
  • Hydrogen bonds, which are damaged by excess of moisture and heat.

There are a few other treatments (besides conditioning) that  you can do to help extend the life and look of your colour/highlights.

The first treatment I recommend is called Olaplex.  Olaplex has a lot of products from cleansers to stylers, but I am going to focus on specifically #0, #1, #2 and #3.  And…. I will eliminate #1 and #2 from the discussion because they are only for sale to professionals (not retail).  They are made of the same ingredient as 0 and 3 and you can have these treatments done at the salon.  These products are lab-created and affect disulfide bonds which are the strongest ones in your hair.

The magic patented ingredient that the Olaplex scientist created is called Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate.  This ingredient is designed to penetrate the hair and rebuild the bonds that are broken from chemical treatments like colour, relaxing, etc., but they can also break also from heat and friction. 

The one thing to remember when using Olaplex #0 and #3 are that it will not give you a moisture or a protein treatment.  These products works best on clean damp hair by applying it in sections and distributing it using a brush or comb (gently) to fully saturate each hair.  It is left on for 15-45 minutes.  Then you rinse it out and do another light shampoo.  Afterwards you can deep condition if you want to, but I have just used a regular conditioner many times as my hair has felt fine after the treatment and not in need.
So what is the difference between #0 and #3?  Well #0 is a more concentrated version of #3 and it goes on your hair first for just 10 minutes. Then you put #3 over top of that so it can pulled deeper into your hair structure.  You can use #3 alone but not #0 because it  is a watery liquid that will dry quickly.  Olaplex #3 is more of a creamy consistency that will keep your hair damp, so both products work together during the process.  Olaplex keeps working as long as your hair is damp so once it is dry it stops and you may as well rinse it out.

A note about how long to an Olaplex treatment in: you can go longer than the 45 minutes - in fact I have let it go overnight.  However, I don’t sleep with damp hair but I know Olaplex stops working once my hair is fully dry.  If you are new to this type of treatment start with shorter intervals so you know how your hair reacts to the product.

Protein to Protect Your Colour

So what else can you do to protect your color?  Well, because the process lifts the cuticle to get the color deposited, it tends to cause higher porosity hair.  Henna is an exception but permanent and semi-permanent colour will do this every time it is is used.  Protein in your products will help to fill in those cracks and chips that have been created by the colouring process.  Ideally you want the protein to be in your leave in products like conditioner and stylers. 

We do have a feature on our website that lets you look at our products that contain proteins.  My general advice is you don’t need protein in every single product.  Mix it up a bit to get the best results for your hair.

The newer protein products that talk about repair and strength tend to be amino-level protein based. These are the lightest in weight and the ones that will penetrate the hair best.

Curlsmith has made a big push into the world of “bond repair” using creatine.  This is a small protein that is able to penetrate deeply to help damaged hair.   Please note that this is specific to products with added creatine and not about ingesting creatine which is generally used to build muscle etc. Creatine in hair products will really help the cuticle to lay flat which in turn protects the whole hair by letting it infuse moisture and protect your color.

Curlsmith Bond Curl Rehab Salve is an intense pre-shampoo treatment, rich in proteins, that target hair bonds to strengthen and repair from the inside out. It is a powerful blend of superfoods and fortifying active ingredients that targets all 3 of these bonds to repair, rebuild and restore hair fibre strength.  Unlike Olaplex, it is a protein treatment.

We also carry the shampoo, conditioner, cream, gel and foam in Curlsmith's strength lineup.  Purple on the packaging indicates protein in Curlsmith's products.

DevaCurl and some other brands like Schwarzkopf are also using Succinic Acid in their products.  This is an organic acid.  Research is showing it softens the outer layer and helps by strengthening the protein that is already in the hair.

Temporary Colour

If permanent colour or highlights are not your thing but you want a temporary change (maybe for Halloween?) check out the hair make up from Curlsmith!  It comes in Gold, Ruby, Rose Gold, Copper, and Turquoise.

The great news is that you have options for caring for your hair while colouring and highlighting as often as you like.  Yes, colouring causes damage, but we don't believe you should stop colouring your hair just because you're trying to follow the Curly Girl / Curly Hair Method!  Instead, focus on maintaining your hair's health using the suggestions I've made above.

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