I think it's time to finally go over my routine for keeping my hair vibrant! Not sure where to start, so I'll just dive right in.
I have been coloring my hair red since 2008, so I can't speak for how well this will work for any other color, but I do know what works on my hair. I think the most important thing to mention is that red takes awhile to really get in the hair. Apparently, this is because red has the largest color molecule and it is harder to get into the hair shaft. In other words, you will need to do it a few times before it really is in there and starts to stick.
When I decided to go red, I had been coloring my hair jet black for years. Totally terrified of bleach, I went to Sallys and found L'oreal Hi color.
This is an amazing product for lifting to a lighter shade, while also depositing color. There is no bleaching involved, so it is great for hair that has not been previously colored. The first use gave me crazy hot-root, while barely doing anything to the black parts of my hair. I ended up having to use it every month to gradually get my hair to a vibrant red, but I think that is part of the reason why it has stayed so well. If you've ever bleached your hair and then put color over it, you already know that it won't stick. The color has nothing to hang onto, so it just washes right out of your hair.
So, I finally achieved a glorious red that I loved, but I was coming across a problem. Every month, the ends of my hair would end up this AWFUL brown/orange burnt color. Turns out, it was because I was using the hi color every month on my whole head, just damaging and stripping away at the ends. Once you have a nice foundation color, you don't need to be covering your whole head in this product every month! All you really need to do is do roots with hi-color, and then do a nice semi-permanent over the rest.
That is how I accidentally discovered Creative Image Adore. This stuff is amazing. It is completely free of any ammonia, peroxide, and alcohol. It comes in every color imaginable, and you can mix the colors together to get even more options. It sticks in hair like a champ. There is a clear gloss that, on it's own, will make your hair super soft and shiny, and help maintain your color. I can't say enough about this amazing hair color. The best part, is you can get it for cheap on ebay. This particular store had my dye to me in two days: Beauty Faves. They don't always have all of the colors, though, so I would do a search and find out what color you want and then find it on ebay. If you are here in Denver, you can also find this at Beauty Supply Warehouse, which is off of 6th and I-225 (yep, it is the old Skate City!) If you have a specific color you are looking for, I can probably help you out, as I have used every shade of pink, red, and purple in this brand.
I would NOT recommend using manic panic, or color gems for your semi- perm color. They never stay and create an enormous mess.
Now that you have your amazing, vibrant hair color, you need to keep it in there! As mentioned before, only use the semi-perm. hair color on everything but the roots from now on. After a few applications, you will start to see a huge difference in the staying power of the color. Try to wash your hair in only cold water, as cold as you can stand. I don't bother with this step and it lasts a month or so, but if you do this on a regular basis, you can extend that a few months! You can also mix your semi- perm color in with your color-protecting conditioner (I VERY highly recommend Feria conditioner, as I have reviewed in the past. It feels amazing every time and somehow extends the color a bit). You want to put enough to tint the conditioner without staining your shower and hands every time. Use the creative image clear gloss in with your conditioner, too, for split ends and for added shine and protection. I do this every time I wash my hair.
Of course, try not to wash it every day and use a good dry shampoo if you need to. If you need to heat style, use a good protecting gloss, such as This stuff, which smells good and makes your hair super pretty and shiny, without getting gunky. (really great for ladies who straighten their curls!) If you have fine hair that is easily weighed down, Kiwi Blow Silk is amazing, however it seems to be disappearing. Here is a 3 pack, though: Kiwi Blow Silk.