Those of us with color-processed hair know that trying to maintain our color can be incredibly challenging. Before I started coloring my hair, I’d pick shampoo and conditioner solely based on what smelled the best in the hair aisle at Target. When you’re trying to protect your hair color, however, shampoo and conditioner become a whole new ballgame. “If you have decided to take your hair to the next level with color, choosing the right shampoo and conditioner is going to be key to keeping those hues where you’d like them,” says Rashuna Durham, Amika lead pro educator and stylist.
Parabens are one thing you should definitely aim to avoid. “You want to avoid parabens as much as possible,” says Bianca Hillier, celebrity hair colorist. “Parabens and sulfates are the chemicals in most shampoos and conditioners that strip the color out of the hair. They can cause a number of problems for your hair, including drying, irritating your scalp, fading your color, and even in some cases, hair loss.”
The good news is that it’s fairly easy to spot parabens on an ingredient list. Just look for ingredients like propylparaben, benzylparaben, methylparaben, or butylparaben on your shampoo and conditioner label. “If someone has a finer texture a conditioner with natural oils will give a weightless moisture and shine,” says Tracey Dryer, Colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. “If someone has a thicker texture, a heavier humectant like shea butter would work best.”
See below for our favorite paraben-free picks—and keep your hair texture in mind when choosing a shampoo and conditioner.