Your Guide To Low-Maintenance Hair Color

Wendy Rodewald

Want to switch up your shade, but scared you’ll doom yourself to twice monthly root touchups from here to eternity? Don’t worry; changing your hair color doesn’t have to be a big, expensive commitment. Here are a few ways to get months of gorgeous, low-maintenance hair color without the upkeep.

Jessica Biel

Darker-on-top highlights like Jessica Biel’s make root regrowth a non-issue.
Photo: Getty Images

No-Touchup Highlights
Harsh, two-toned ombré doesn’t look as fresh as it once did, but a softer version of dark-to-light color not only looks natural, it buys you months between touch-ups. “The softer side of ombré is great for ‘recession highlights,’” says Kim Vō, Schwarzkopf Professional Blonding Ambassador and celebrity colorist who counts Kate Hudson, Katherine Heigl and Britney Spears as clients. “It adds incredible depth and texture.” Highlights that start at hair’s root need to be touched up every 4-6 weeks, subtle ombré color can look great for 4-6 months, Kim says.

Balayage, in which a colorist hand-paints highlights on the hair, is another low-maintenance option Kim recommends. “This special technique gets highlights closer to the root and minimizes the line of demarcation for a more graceful grow out.”

Prefer to take the DIY route? New L’Oréal Paris Féria Wild Ombré ($12.99, features lightening technology that conditions and protects hair, plus a unique applicator brush that makes painting on highlights easy. And since you aren’t lightening your roots, you won’t have to worry about touching them up.

L'Oreal Paris Feria Wild Ombre hair color

Zero Commitment Color
If you’d rather go with all-over color in lieu of (or in addition to) highlights, it’s also possible to adjust your hue without making a permanent change. Choose a demi-permanent color such as Clairol Natural Instincts ($7.99,, which lasts through 28 shampoos — a month to six weeks, depending on how frequently you wash your hair. Since the formula doesn’t contain ammonia, it won’t permanently damage hair, which means you won’t get a harsh grow-out line at the roots.

High-Maintenance Hues To Avoid
If you’re not dedicated to refreshing your color constantly, Kim advises you avoid reds, since they’re prone to fading quickly. “The dye molecule is incredibly small and simply falls out of hair more easily than other colors,” he explains.

Baby blonde is another shade that requires dedication. If you go platinum, you’ve only got about five days of pristine color before your roots start showing, says Christophe Robin, L’Oréal Paris Global Consulting Hair Colorist.

How To Make Color Last Longer
“If hair’s not healthy, the color will fade,” says celebrity colorist Rita Hazan, who works with Katy Perry, Beyoncé and Jessica Simpson. Since color — especially lightening agents — can dry out hair, Rita recommends using conditioning treatments and masks once or twice a week to keep hair in tip-top shape. She suggests using Phytonectar Pre-Shampoo Ultra Nourishing Oil Treatment ($30, on hair and leaving it in overnight.

Products for low-maintenance hair color

“I recommend professional haircare that protects hair from harsh environmental factors like sun, water, minerals, etc,” say Kim Vō. “Schwarzkopf Professional BC Hairtherapy Color Save Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Color Save Conditioner delivers 90% color retention, prolongs color intensity and protects hair against UV rays.”

If you do eventually find your color looking faded or grown-out and can’t make it to your colorist, products can give you a temporary fix. Got roots? Try Rita Hazan Root Concealer For Highlights ($24, to help camouflage regrowth. If you find your shade is fading, try a color-depositing shampoo, such as Davines Alchemic Shampoo ($19.99, to add some oomph back to your hue.