Can You Dye Freshly Washed Hair?

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Coloring your hair is one thing that will really enhance your style. And depending on where you’re starting from and where you’re going, dyeing can be very easy to do at home. But is there a special way to get the results you want?

Can you dye freshly washed hair?

It’s not a good idea to dye your hair shortly after washing it, nor is it a good idea to wait a really long time to dye it after washing. Wait at least 24 hours to dye your hair after you wash it in order to keep your scalp and hair healthy.

The state of your hair and the type of dye you’re using make a difference as well. For example, henna hair dye works a bit differently than typical permanent or semi-permanent hair dye.

In this article, I’ll go over the relationship between washing hair and dyeing it.


Can You Dye Freshly Washed Hair?

Washing your hair as the first part of your usual hair care routine may be a normal thing to do. But when it comes to dyeing your hair, you’ll need to take a different course. And that’s because when it comes to most hair coloring, box dye should be applied to dry, clean hair.  

Think about it: If you go to a salon, the stylist will apply the color to your hair at the beginning of your appointment, not wash your hair first.

And the same technique applies when you use an at-home hair color kit to color your hair. 

Should You Dye Clean Or Dirty Hair?

You don’t want your hair to be genuinely dirty when you dye it, but a certain level of natural oils will improve the look of a dye job. Natural oils will build up in the hair as long as it has not been shampooed. These oils will protect your hair and scalp from the damaging dye and/or bleach process.

Hair that is really sweaty, greasy, or dirty will not absorb the color very evenly, so you don’t want to push it to an extreme. And if you have a lot of product buildup in your hair, your dye just won’t come out looking good.

Of course, you should always follow the specific instructions for your chosen hair dye.

Always follow the specific instructions for your chosen hair dye.

When Should You Shampoo Before Coloring?

In general, you will need to wait a day or two after you wash your hair before you apply your hair dye. This is because, after this time, the natural oils from your scalp will have built up enough to give both your scalp and hair enough protection for the dyeing process.

If your hair is too clean, like after it has just been freshly washed, then the dye may not work as well as it could. The same thing applies if your hair is too dirty from sweat or excess oil. The dye won’t grab hold as it should.

In order to find a happy medium between your squeaky clean, freshly-washed hair and excessively dirty hair, dye your hair a day or two after you have last washed it. Wait until it’s reasonably dry without becoming brittle, dirty, or greasy.

In order to find a happy medium between your squeaky clean, freshly-washed hair and excessively dirty hair, dye your hair a day or two after you have last washed it. 

What About Bleaching? Should You Wash Your Hair First?

If you’re going to bleach your hair, you almost always want to keep it dry before bleaching. If you decide you want to bleach wet hair, you will alter the effects of the bleach. You can easily damage your hair if you bleach it while wet, but some people use the technique intentionally. For example, wetting just the tips of the hair before a bleaching session can produce a nice result.

But in general, it’s best to not mess around with bleach unless you want to post a Bleach Fail video of your hair strands falling out on Youtube.

What About Henna Hair Color?

Henna hair dye is an exception to the rule I’ve outlined so far. Wash your hair with a gentle shampoo, and thoroughly dry it an hour or so before applying henna dye.

Henna is a very different type of hair dye from the typical permanent and semi-perm hair dyes. Henna dye uses henna powder from the Lawsonia inermis tree. It’s the same dye that makes the famous beautiful tattoo-like designs commonly seen in Indian and Middle-Eastern wedding ceremonies.

Wash your hair with a gentle shampoo, and thoroughly dry it an hour or so before applying henna dye.

Why Shouldn’t I Dye My Hair After Washing It?

Protecting the delicate skin on your scalp is extremely important at all times. This is why you need to allow time between washing your hair and adding chemicals to it.

For most people, after a couple of days, the natural oils produced by your scalp will be enough to help protect the hair and scalp during the dyeing process.

This delay will help ensure that there’s a natural protective layer of oil on your scalp, which will act as a barrier against the harsh chemicals that are contained in the hair dye. It will also help to prevent irritation or an allergic reaction to the hair color.

Protecting Your Hair Before Coloring

If your hair is feeling extra dry and you’re about to apply your dye, then it’s a good idea to do an oil treatment for your scalp before you color it. The oil treatment will keep the scalp and hair strands protected during the coloring process. 

You can massage your scalp with oil to do this. You could even leave it in overnight so that your scalp will be nourished and protected enough for the application of the dye chemicals.

Using a pure and natural oil like Pura D’Or Organic Moroccan Argan Oil  will treat your dry scalp (it’s also great to use for combating dandruff, eczema and psoriasis), and is an amazing product to help keep your hair free of dryness, frizz, and brittleness.

PURA D'OR Organic Moroccan Argan Oil (4oz / 118mL) USDA Certified 100% Pure Cold Pressed Virgin Premium Grade Moisturizer Treatment for Dry, Damaged Skin, Hair, Face, Body, Scalp (Packaging may vary)
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When Can You Wash Your Hair After Dyeing It?

There is debate about this, but you should be able to wash your hair later the same day after dyeing it. It won’t keep absorbing color during that time, so you’re unlikely to damage anything by washing.

However, you usually don’t need to wash it the same day after leaving the salon or completing a dye job at home! Instead, focus on the hair products you’re using throughout the day to keep your hair healthy.

Final Thoughts on the Coloring Process

So, can you dye freshly washed natural hair? If you’re using a permanent hair color, semi-permanent, or temporary hair color, then you should definitely wait for a day or two between washing and coloring.

If you decide to use henna hair dye, as well as some demi-perm and hair gloss dyes, then your hair should be freshly-washed and towel dried before application.

Always follow the instructions on your specific dye box.

Whichever route you choose to experiment in hair color, knowing which technique will suit the look that you want as a result means you’ll be able to rock gorgeous color on your locks to bring you the confidence of good hair days to come.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).