One of the biggest questions people ask before grabbing a bottle of hair dye is, “should I wash my hair before dying it?” In order to answer this question, it’s important to think about the dying process, your hair type, and your daily hair habits.
If you want to find out whether or not you should wash your hair before dying it, keep reading!
How Does Hair Dye Work?
Before we dive into the best washing habits for colored hair, it’s important to understand how hair dye does its job.
Hair dye is made up of a combination of chemicals that work to open up your hair shaft and change your hair color from the inside.
In the case of semi-permanent dyes, the color is simply left on the outside of your hair shaft. This is why semi-permanent dyes fade away after a few shampoos.
The type of dye you use and the amount of damage it will do to your hair will play an important role in deciding whether or not you should wash your hair before having it colored.
Can You Dye Freshly Washed Hair?
Well—yes and no. The answer to this question depends greatly on the type of coloring process you plan to undergo.
If your plan is to lighten your hair, also known as bleaching your hair, then you shouldn’t begin the process on freshly washed hair. This could cause the bleach to come in contact with your scalp and leave you with irritation and potential chemical burns.
However, if you’re dying your hair a darker color, or using a semi-permanent hair dye, you have a bit more wiggle room. While most stylists agree that having some natural oils is best when coloring your hair, there’s nothing stopping you from applying your hair color to freshly washed hair.
The overall consensus is that it’s best to avoid washing your hair in the days leading up to applying your color. This is to ensure that your skin is protected from harsh chemicals, and the color can easily penetrate into your hair strands.
Should I Wash My Hair Before Dying it at Home?
Before moving forward with your at-home dye job, you may want to reconsider going to a salon. Hair experts advise against dying hair at home due to the risk of incorrect application that could leave you with orange, damaged hair.
But, if you’re still intent on coloring your hair yourself, plan to wash your hair 1-2 days before you want to apply your hair dye. This allows the oils on your scalp to protect your skin from the harsh chemicals you’ll be applying.
Washing the day before, or the day of, your dye job means those precious oils won’t be able to act as a barrier between your scalp and the chemicals. However, going too long between your wash and dye job can leave too much build-up on your hair.
Should I Wash My Hair Before Dying it at the Salon?
Similar to dying your hair at home, giving your hair a good wash 1-2 days before your appointment will leave you with the best results.
Having slightly dirty hair will create more friction between your strands and the stylist’s tools, making it easier for them to apply the color correctly. Freshly washed hair is often slick and difficult to work with, making your stylist’s job harder.
However, there are exceptions to every rule, and if your stylist feels your dye would apply better on freshly washed hair, they’ll often wash your hair for you at the salon. Talk to your stylist before your appointment to see what they recommend for your specific hair needs.
Should I Wash My Natural Hair Before Dying it?
When it comes to dying natural hair, you’ll want to find a colorist—someone who works only with hair color. They’ll be better equipped to face the unique challenges that come with dying natural hair.
Much like before, it is recommended that you wash your hair 1-2 days prior to your appointment. Natural hair specifically can easily become dry and damaged, so having excess product to act as a buffer between the hair color and your scalp is even more important.
It’s also recommended that people with natural hair apply a pre-color treatment before heading to the salon. This will strengthen your strands and ensure that your hair will be able to handle the damaging coloring process.
Should I Wash My Hair Before Dying it Semi-Permanent?
Semi-permanent dyes are a great option for someone looking to try something new without making a long-term commitment. These dyes tend to last 6-8 weeks, depending on how often you wash your hair, the color you choose, and the initial health of your hair.
Semi-permanent dyes contain fewer chemicals and are less damaging to your skin and hair. This means that those protective oils we mentioned before are less important when you’re using a semi-permanent dye.
If you’re someone who typically washes their hair daily, you should be safe to wash your hair either the night before or the day of your color. Just be sure your hair is completely dry before applying any color to your hair.
When it comes to semi-permanent dyes, caring for your hair after coloring it is more important than what you do leading up to the dye job. While it’s still recommended that you don’t allow your hair to get too dirty, you can wash it the day before without compromising your color.
Should I Wash My Hair Before Dying it if it Has Product in it?
If you’re a lover of hair products, you may be wondering if you should go product-free on the day of your appointment. This question is a tricky one, so read carefully!
While it is best to arrive at the salon with product-free hair, there are some products that cause fewer problems than others.
Non-oil-based products are typically fine and can be brushed out of your hair before the hair dye is applied. This includes hairspray, gels, and styling creams, as long as they’re non-oily.
Dry shampoos, hair oils, and root cover-up products should all be washed out of your hair prior to applying your color. These products can create a barrier between your hair and the hair dye, preventing the color from absorbing into your hair evenly.
If these products are left on your hair, you could be left with an uneven color. So, if you have any oil-based products in your hair, be sure to wash them out before you go in with your color.
How Can I Make My Hair Color Last Longer?
Prepping your hair before coloring it is only part of the process. It’s also important that you take care of your hair after the color has been applied.
You may be able to get away with applying your color to freshly washed hair, but you should definitely avoid washing your hair for at least 24 hours after your dye job. This will allow the dye to absorb into your hair and prevent any color fading.
You’ll also want to avoid washing your hair with hot water. Using colder water will help maintain the vibrancy of your color and allow you to go longer between dye jobs.
Lastly, you’ll want to limit exposure to heat, sunlight, and chlorine. These can all damage your hair and cause your color to fade quickly.
If you have to use heat on your hair, be sure to invest in a good heat protectant and use your styling tools at a lower temperature. This will limit the amount of damage your styling tools cause and help your color last longer.
If you’re outside in direct sunlight, either wear a hat or take plenty of breaks in shaded areas. Just like our skin, our hair can be damaged by the sun too.
If you love going for a dip in the pool, be sure to wash your hair immediately after and apply a leave-in conditioner to replenish the moisture in your hair. You can also mix a leave-in conditioner and water in a spray bottle and apply that to your hair before and after your time in the pool.
Talk to a Stylist About Your Concerns
If you’re still asking, “should I wash my hair before dying it,” know that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Everyone’s hair health and desired color are unique to them.
For some people, washing their hair a day or two before applying their color will leave them with the best results. For others, applying hair dye to freshly washed hair might give them the outcome they’re looking for.
When in doubt, the best practice is to speak to a hairstylist or color expert about your concerns. They will be able to assess your hair’s health and hair color goals and give you instructions on how to achieve the color you want. They will know best as to whether or not you should wash your hair before dying it.