Does Head & Shoulders Fade Hair Color? Here’s The Truth.

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Fact Checked

When you decide to take the plunge and change up your hair color, it becomes more than just a shade—it becomes a statement, a part of your identity.

Naturally, you want to make sure that your new color stays vibrant and lasts as long as possible.

But sometimes, regular habits, like your choice of shampoo, might be working against you.

A common question we get here at CHC HQ is whether using the trusted dandruff fighter, Head & Shoulders, is washing hair color away.

We also get asked if it’s any good at getting rid of hair color you no longer want!

So what’s the deal? Does Head & Shoulders shampoo genuinely fade hair color? Or are these mere beauty myths? Let’s dive deep and uncover the truth.

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What is Head & Shoulders shampoo?

Head & Shoulders is a brand of anti-dandruff shampoo that’s been in use for decades.

Head & Shoulders has become a household name in the world of hair care.

Their product range includes everything from shampoos to conditioners, each designed to leave your hair looking and feeling its best. But what sets Head & Shoulders apart is their commitment to addressing a common hair concern: dandruff.

It’s specially formulated based on dermatological expertise and contains ingredients that have been tested for safety and gentleness on your scalp.

It’s known for its anti-dandruff benefits, but has anyone ever wondered whether it can fade hair color?

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Does Head & Shoulders fade hair color?

The truth is, Head & Shoulders CAN fade your hair color, but it’s not strong enough to strip hair color or remove it.

Why? Well, this flake-fighting shampoo contains surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate.

These surfactants are great at cleansing your hair and scalp by attracting oil and dirt, but they can also have a side effect on dyed hair.

When we color our hair, the dye molecules are deposited within the hair shaft. Some of these molecules can be quite big, especially for darker shades like browns and reds.

Now, here’s the thing: the surfactants in many shampoos, by their very nature, can cause a tiny lifting of the hair cuticle – that’s the outermost protective layer of the hair strand.

When this cuticle is lifted, it actually makes it easier for dye molecules, especially the larger ones, to slip out.

So while you might not see immediate results, keep using this product to wash your hair and your color will fade faster.

“If you’re asking if Head & Shoulders shampoo will strip the dye out of your hair, no – but it can fade it quicker due to the sulfates in it. You’ll need to use a color-safe & sulfate free shampoo and conditioner to prolong the hue of colored hair.”

Stevie Ash, Color Wheel & Master Color Correction

What does Head & Shoulders say about this?

Head & Shoulders themselves have this to say about whether their shampoo strips hair color:

“What makes Head & Shoulders special is the addition of dandruff-fighting active ingredients that protect your scalp in-between washes from dandruff-causing irritants. These active ingredients do not strip hair color.”

They claim that it’s hard water that does the most damage to your color. They would!

While they’re right that their products won’t necessarily STRIP your hair color, the general consensus and in our experience of trying it out, is that the ingredients in Head & Shoulders will contribute to color fade over time.

Does Head & Shoulders remove hair color?

No it doesn’t. This potent formula may be tough on dandruff but it does not remove hair color. It just fades your color a touch, much like any harsh shampoo.

The main ingredient in this shampoo is zinc pyrithione or ZPT. It’s an anti-bacterial agent that reduces the spread of dandruff.

It also affects hair color by reducing oxidation, which causes hair to fade. This ingredient removes extra pigment that builds up in your hair.

But these ingredients are no harsher than you’ll find in ordinary shampoos that aren’t color-safe.

What shampoo ingredients fade hair color?

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium laureth sulfate
  • Sodium chloride
  • Zinc pyrithione or ZPT.

Should you avoid using Head & Shoulders if you’ve recently dyed your hair?

Not necessarily. If you’re a brunette or redhead, then it’s best to use a color-friendly shampoo. This will help to preserve your hair dye for longer.

But if you’re a blonde, then using this shampoo is totally fine – in fact, it might even help to keep your locks bright and shiny.

Things like how often you wash your hair, sun, sea and even the hardness of your water all contribute to how long your color will last.

At the end of the day, it’s all about finding what works best for your own hair condition and color.

Does Head & Shoulders fade color – Watch what the experts say.

Does all dandruff shampoo ruin hair color?

Not at all! There are plenty of anti-dandruff products that won’t damage your hair color.

Head & Shoulders is one such brand, but it’s important to read the ingredients list before you buy.

Products that contain zinc pyrithione (ZPT) will fade your hair color over time, so it’s best to avoid them if you’ve just dyed your hair.

There are plenty of other anti-dandruff shampoos on the market that don’t contain this harmful ingredient, so it’s worth doing some research before making a purchase.

Which Head & Shoulders is safe for color-treated hair?

There are many shampoos and products from Head & Shoulders available on the market, and some are specifically designed for color-treated hair.

Color Protect Head and Shoulders is safe to use on dyed hair. It contains a patented formula that helps to protect your hair dye from fading.

This shampoo also strengthens hair fibres to help keep your locks looking healthy and vibrant too.

Head & Shoulders Color Supreme Anti-Dandruff Shampoo & Conditioner set.

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How can I fade permanent hair color naturally?

Of course, there are times when you WANT to fade your hair color.

Head & Shoulders is one way we recommend in our guide, How to remove hair dye at home.

You also have the option of using color remover or bleach which will certainly do the job.

If you’re looking for more natural remedies using ingredients you have at home, try these out below.

How to fade hair dye naturally.

  • Lemon juice – Put some neat lemon juice in strands of your hair where the sunlight naturally hits.
  • Honey and cinnamon – Mix 3 tablespoons of honey and 3 teaspoons of cinnamon together with your usual conditioner and leave it on as a hair mask to develop.
  • Baking soda and warm water – make a paste and apply it to your hair for 30-40 minutes. You can also mix baking soda and peroxide for extra strength.
  • White vinegar – dilute it with a little water than saturate your hair in it for 30 mins. Rinse out throroughly.
  • Dish soap and shampoo – mix together and use in the shower as you would a normal shampoo.
  • Vitamin C – Crush up a Vit C tablet and make a paste with water to apply to your hair for 20 mins then rinse.

Parting words.

As you can see, it’s important to always use a shampoo that is designed for colored hair.

The chemical ingredients in some dandruff shampoos may be too harsh on your precious locks and will fade the colors faster than normal.

If Head and Shoulders (and dandruff) is what you have at home, don’t worry.

Just follow up with a good, color-safe conditioner after washing your hair to keep your hair supple and your color locked in. Good luck!

This article was written by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!