When it comes to selecting your next shampoo, let color be your guide

Choosing shampoo and conditioner formulas can be overwhelming. Is it better to shop based on your hair’s condition or its color? And are those products even that different after all? When it comes to color-specific formulas at least, there is a difference, says Ammon Carver, a Matrix artistic director. “All women can benefit from using color-care products, whether or not they actually use hair color,” he adds.

As a group, “color-specific products are made to concentrate their effects on the condition and health of the hair,” says Carver. “Maintaining healthy hair with a smooth cuticle surface is key to keeping [your mane] looking its best.” In other words, the ranges—like Matrix’s brand-new Total Results Blonde Care—that focus on a specific hair hue not only help maintain that particular tone, but they improve the condition of the hair long term, too. Vice versa, products with styling functions do more short-term, like temporarily plumping up the cuticle for volume or coating the hair with silicone for smoothness.

Each hair color, regardless of whether it’s au naturel or achieved chemically, has its own set of concerns. “Blondes tend to be more sensitized due to either high-lift formulas or highlights that decolorize or shift melanin,” says Carver. Matrix’s Blonde Care products contain chamomile and panthenol that reduce the porosity of the hair fiber, thus making it less vulnerable to going brassy or green. The Blonde Care Flash Filler Sheer Mist, a post-shower spray, also contains UV filters to further fight tonal shifts.

UV protection is actually almost as important for brunettes as blondes, since the sun can do just as much to lighten and discolor a rich brown. And, “reds tend to fade,” says Carter. “Products that prevent fading, such as ones with UV protection, antioxidants and environmental aggressor ingredients, are extremely beneficial.” Pureology recently debuted Reviving Red, a five-product collection (including two color-depositing treatments) that uses encapsulated lycopene to fight oxidation and a blend of five oils (including coconut and jojoba) to seal the hair shaft, preventing pigment loss.

For all hair colors, oil-based formulas make good occasional supplements. Carter recommends Matrix Biolage ExquisiteOil Replenishing Treatment to moisturize and add weightless shine. Pigment-depositing formulas—such as Redken’s Blonde Glam Perfect Platinum and Davines Alchemic Chocolate Conditioner—on the other hand, should be used with a bit more caution. “Never use them on a daily basis as they have the potential to alter hair color with excessive use,” warns Carver, who suggests alternating between favorite shampoos every two weeks. The results of this color-specific care, he adds, “is longer lasting vibrancy and increased integrity of the hair structure, [which equals] more shine and strength.”