I've been highlighting my naturally light brown/dark blonde hair since I was 16 years old, and all that bleach over 10 years has definitely damaged and dried it out. Thankfully, it hasn't gotten SO bad that I've had hair falling out or anything horrible like that, but I've certainly noticed that it has less lustre, shine and smoothness since I started highlighting it.
About a year ago, I went to a new colorist and when we got to talking about hair products, she mentioned the word "sulfates." Now, sulfates are starting to pop up in the beauty community with L'Oreal's launch of a sulfate-free line, but at the time I had no idea what she was talking about. She explained to me that most hair-care companies use sulfates as filler product to make their shampoos lather and thicken (there are several varieties of it, just look at the back of your shampoo bottle and you should find it as one of the first few ingredients). And since we're so conditioned by commercials and what-not to think that a LATHERING shampoo is a GOOD shampoo, we don't blink or think twice about it. In reality, these sulfates are incredibly DRYING for hair because they strip away the natural moisture of the hair folicle (and for this reason they are extra damaging for color-treated hair). Why then, I asked, do companies use these products? Although I don't know this for sure, my stylist said that it makes the product fill up the bottle with less of the actual good ingredients, so it's a cheaper way to produce.
Once I learned this, I decided that if I ever wanted to repair the damage from years of bleaching my hair while still being able to stay blonde, I'd have to stop using shampoos with these drying agents. I also knew that I didn't want to spend more money than I was currently spending on haircare. Shortly thereafter, during a random trip to my local Sally Beauty Supply store, I discovered the Coloresse line of hair products, and actually tried them completely on a whim. It took less than a week for me to fall in love...and see a difference.
Since then I religiously use the "rescue" line (in the blue bottles), which say they are for severely dry and damaged hair. Honestly, I wouldn't say my hair is SEVERELY dry or damaged, but I still like what this line does and personally prefer it over the "moisture" line which is for normal hair (and which I've also tried). I currently use the Rescue Shampoo, Rescue Conditioner, and Rescue Leave-in Moisturizer with every shampoo/blowdry. I also own the Rescue Smoothing Balm (which compares to Biosilk), but only use that on occasion, and just today I purchased the Rescue Treatment Masque to try, which is their deep conditioner (I'll review it after I've given it a spin). The best part is that these products are less than $10 each, so for the entire Rescue line, it's less than $50. The Coloresse line also comes in varieties for curly hair (green bottles), normal hair (pink bottles) and fine hair (purple bottles). Each of the other varieties has a shampoo and conditioner, and then some different specific products for that hair type (such as a curl creme for curly hair or volume luster creme for fine hair).
If you're going to try a sulfate-free shampoo for the first time, there's a few things you should be aware of in advance. Firstly, the consistency is going to be very different -- because it lacks the thickening agent, it's quite watery, but that just means you'll need to transfer it to the top of your head a little quicker than usual. Secondly, be prepared for less of a lather than you're used to. It will definitely be a bit strange at first, but remind yourself that it's for the benefit of your hair!
Overall, I am so incredibly happy with the entire range of products. I find that the shampoo cleanses my hair thoroughly without it feeling stripped or dry, and the rescue conditioner is like infusing your hair with silk (I leave mine on for about 3 minutes and comb through it in the shower with a wide-tooth comb before rinsing). The leave-in moisturizer prepares your hair for styling (although I do use a separate heat protectant on it as well before blow-drying) and the smoothing lotion is a great finishing product to make hair sleek and shiny (just keep this away from roots to avoid a greasy look, and remember, just 1-2 pumps goes a long way!). Each bottle lasts me between 3-6 months with washing my hair every other day, so if you can stretch it even longer (or if you have really short hair), it'll go even further.
As far as I know, these products are only sold in Sally Beauty Supply stores, but if you don't have one near you, they do sell most of the line on their web site at http://www.sallybeautysupply.com/. Check it out! :)
- All products are sulfate-free, so they are less drying and damaging for hair, especially if it's color treated
- Products are affordable at less than $10 each!
- The line caters to multiple hair types including fine hair, curly hair, damaged hair and normal hair
- Products are only available at Sally Beauty Supply stores, so they may be difficult to find for some
- Shampoos don't lather like you're used to, and the consistency is a bit runny