Can You Reuse Hair Dye After Opening It?

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Hair dye allows us to radically change our appearance and the many colors available range from muted to bleach blond to beyond vibrant. However, there are still a few unanswered questions that abound whenever someone considers hair dye, and ensuring that you know how to use it properly may allow you to save money.

Here’s one of the most common questions that we get about hair dye: “Can you reuse hair dye after opening it?” Sometimes you just want a little hint of a highlight, or you just don’t need much. Do you have to through the remainder away?

If you hate the idea of wasting your hair dye, in this article we’ll discuss how you can ensure that it lasts as long as possible and the cases in which you can still use it if you have some leftover.

Can You Reuse Hair Dye After Opening It?

The first thing that you’ll have to determine is the kind of hair dye that you’re using and what condition you have it leftover in. The most common type of hair dye that people may expect to have leftover at home is the kind that comes in a box that you can typically find at pharmacies or on amazon.

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Or you may have some hair dye in a tube that you got from a professional salon.

These both have varying expiration dates.

Be sure to always check the box or tube that your hair dye came in to determine whether you should still be able to use it or not.

If a hair dye is past its expiry date, then it will not penetrate your hair as effectively. And it may even get to the point where it could be harmful if you expose your scalp to it.

If you’ve run into this issue, our article on how to hydrate hair after bleaching may be of some help.

Even though most hair dye is supposed to last for a long time, be sure to check the expiration date for yourself.


So let’s say you’ve opened your hair dye and decided that you don’t need to use all of it to dye your hair. Can you reuse hair dye after opening it? How long will mixed hair dye last?

That’s up to whether or not you mixed the hair dye with peroxide. That is will create a chemical reaction that activates the hair dye. Most types of permanent hair dye will have to be mixed with peroxide (H2O2).

It is the main ingredient in hair bleach.

When mixed with peroxide, hair dye will be able to penetrate the shaft of your hair and alter the color. If you were to apply a hair dye solution without mixing it first, then it wouldn’t even alter the color of your hair.

Unfortunately, the hair dye will also be rendered unusable soon after you mix it with peroxide.

If your leftover hair dye has been mixed with peroxide, then it’s time to throw it out. It will soon start clumping up and eventually be useless anyway.

On the other hand, if you’ve left your hair dye separate from the peroxide, then you should be able to reseal it and use it at a later date.

Can You Reuse Semi-Permanent Hair Dye After Opening It?

Whether or not you’ll be able to reuse semi-permanent hair dye depends on the kind of package that it comes in. Since most semi-permanent hair dye is designed for a single use and not several, you most likely won’t be able to use your semi-permanent dye at a later date.

This is especially true if it comes in an unsealable packet.

However, there are pricier semi-permanent hair dyes that are meant to be used on several occasions, and these will typically come in resealable packs, tubes, or even hairspray cans.

If the packaging of your semi-permanent hair dye has clearly been designed to be used again later, then the dye likely won’t go bad.

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Most semi-permanent dyes and toners aren’t designed to react with peroxide, so you won’t have to worry about mixing it before using it.

Instead, these semi-permanent dyes will react with oxygen in the air, so you’ll typically find this kind of dye stored in containers that are airtight, preventing oxygen from getting in.

If the packet will expose the dye to oxygen before you’ll be able to use it again, then the dye will be activated and it will soon be unable to adhere to your hair.

At this point, you may as well throw it out, as the hair dye is about as useful as a permanent hair dye that has already reacted with peroxide.

How to Save Your Hair Dye for as Long as Possible

You have a few options if you’d like to save some money on your hair dye and reuse your current packet in the future.

Estimating Need

The first thing to consider is that you’ll get better at estimating the amount of hair dye that you need to give your hair the right color over time.

When you can estimate the amount of hair dye that you’ll have to use, you can lay it out and quickly seal away the rest in a container to ensure that it doesn’t react with the oxygen in the air. If you’re working with permanent hair dye that you’re supposed to mix with peroxide, don’t mix all of it.

Leaving a little bit of permanent hair dye in the box or the tube will allow you to save it for the future when you can mix it with peroxide and eventually activate it for use.

Get a Friend to Help

Another great way to ensure that you save as much hair dye as possible is to let someone else dye your hair. Since we can’t exactly see the entirety of our head when we’re dying our hair, it becomes more difficult to measure out the right amount of hair dye for use, and we tend to use too much of it to be safe.

If you have a friend or family member that can apply the dye to your hair for you, you’ll likely be able to use your hair dye more efficiently, saving you money. Getting someone else to dye your hair may also save you time, as it will be easier for them to apply the dye and the task will be done sooner.

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Written by Kayla Young

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