For quite some time, I felt like I was in a constant battle to keep my hair color looking vibrant and multi-faceted – I would invest in color-protecting shampoos, conditioners, treatments, and everything else under the sun if I thought there was even a slight chance that they would make my hair look as fresh as it did the day I got my color done. I experimented with a lot of brands to that end – most of them helped a bit in extending the longevity of my color, but the entirety of Redken’s Color Extend line wreaked havoc on both the color and overall health of my hair, all in the course of a few months.
When I first began using this line, my hair was neither extremely healthy nor extremely damaged – it was pretty much right in the middle, and, while it wasn’t falling out in clumps, it did have a fair amount of split-ends and product build-up. I had been using a Nexxus shampoo and conditioner with an occasional mask thrown into the mix when I remembered it, but I still found that my color drained within a week of getting a service done. Fed up with expensive treatments washing down the drain every time I used shampoo, I picked up the first “color minded” line I could find, and unfortunately that was Redken Color Extend. This line has all of the typical Redken hallmarks: a shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, and leave-in spray. Since I had been using primarily drugstore hair products up until this point, I automatically assumed Color Extend would work wonders on me since it’s a salon brand. Knowing what I know now about color maintenance (and knowing that oftentimes salon products perform no better than drugstore brands), I can break down exactly what aspects of this line caused my color and hair health to go into a downward spiral:
- Shampoo: The CE shampoo was the main culprit for ruining my color for a whole slew of reasons. First of all, this shampoo contains not one, but two sulphates: sodium lauryl sulphate AND sodium laureth sulphate! Sodium laureth sulphate is bad enough on its own, but when you throw in sodium lauryl sulphate to boot, it’s a recipe for disaster. Both of these detergents are well-known for causing color to rapidly fade (sodium lauryl sulphate especially) and for causing hair to dry out; this is why there’s a whole sulphate-free shampoo market. So, how on earth can a product that contains both of these detergents help to preserve color and not destroy it? Simply put – it can’t. As if this shampoo wasn’t bad enough with those two ingredients on deck, it also includes cranberry oil – this ingredient is also known for its ability to quickly deplete color and dry out the hair with prolonged use. All three of these bad boys are at the top of the ingredient list, so it is literally impossible for this shampoo to protect color – in fact, if you were trying to purposely remove your color, this shampoo would probably be more effective than using Dawn dish soap, which doesn’t contain these stripping ingredients save for sodium laureth sulphate. This shampoo also doesn’t cleanse very well – that means hair becomes weighed down after time and has difficulty holding on to color due to product build-up stopping the color itself from permeating the hair shaft. It took me about two months of using a weekly clarifying shampoo after I stopped using CE to rectify the damage that this shampoo had caused.
- Rich Recovery: Rich Recovery is the deep conditioner of the CE line. It boasts claims of helping to add dimension to color and deeply penetrate the hair with moisture to prevent color from fading. I could see this claim being true – perhaps if it didn’t contain a metric ton of dimethicone and cranberry oil, it actually could be decent. But alas, it contains both of those ingredients, which rewards users with coated hair that looks beyond dull when this product is used regularly. I actually decided to use this mask long after I ditched the shampoo and conditioner, hoping beyond hope that maybe it would live up to its claims, but no dice. Even using this product only once a week caused it to build up rapidly and mercilessly drain my color. I returned it immediately and never looked back.
- Conditioner: The CE conditioner claims to add intense moisture and shine while preserving color. I experienced the exact opposite. I love conditioner, and while most of the Redken conditioners usually work for me, this one wreaked havoc on my hair. Like the Rich Recovery, it also contains cranberry oil and dimethicone, which didn’t do me any favors over the long run. I originally would wash my hair every day and always follow up with this conditioner, but found it to leave my hair dry and tangled. I changed my frequency of washing to be less than daily, but I continued to struggle with dryness and tangles. After a month with no let up from these results, I eventually just gave up on this conditioner and tossed it along with the shampoo. I had a visit with my hairstylist right in the thick of when I was using this – she actually commented on the sudden appearance of a boatload of split-ends that I had developed and asked if I had been using anything new; that signaled to me that this line was the cause as it was the only thing I had changed in my routine, so I knew it was time to discontinue using it.
- Total Recharge: Total Recharge is the leave-in product of the CE line – it is a bit confusing because you can both leave it in without rinsing, or rinse it out after leaving it in for fifteen minutes to an hour. The point of a leave-in (or a good one anyway) is to give hair any extra moisture it may need that a standard rinse-out conditioner missed – all without weighing the hair down. Unfortunately, this product weighed my hair down to high heaven – I tried using it both as a leave-in and as a “treatment” to be rinsed out, and both ways my hair felt greasy, heavy, and flat. I do have to admit that yes, I have fine hair, but given my experience with the other products in this line, I couldn’t chalk the failure of this product up to an “it’s not you, it’s me” experience, so ultimately I ended up tossing it as well.
Looking back on my experience using the Color Extend line, I really wish I had read the reviews before purchasing the liters (without trying them) on a whim when they were on sale at Ulta – other reviewers across boards echo my sentiments about the CE line doing the exact opposite of what it claims. This ended up being a costly mistake – even when the liters were on sale, I ended up spending about $75 on all of the products, and had virtually no success. I usually never throw away products until I’m convinced I have no alternative uses for them – in the case of this line, I tried using all of the products in different ways that wouldn’t waste them, but ultimately I had no luck and did have to throw each and every one away (I couldn’t give any of them away in good conscience because I knew how ineffective they were).
Apparently, Redken has just introduced a sulphate-free version of this line called Color Extend Magnetics, and as much as I enjoy most Redken products, I am not willing to give the new line a shot given how horrendous my experience was with the original.
If you have colored hair and are trying to keep it looking good for as long as possible, I highly recommend doing research before using just any old “color extending” line – always be sure to look for sulphate-free, cranberry oil free, and dimethicone-free products, because those are the ingredients that will be the demise of your fresh new color.