Will Leave-In Conditioner Affect Hair Dye? Does It Screw Up the Color?

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Color-treated hair is more fragile than natural hair. During the coloring process, your strands become drier and more susceptible to damage. It may be a good idea to consider using a leave-in conditioner as a way to combat this. 

Will leave-in conditioner affect hair dye? Will it damage the color or impact the dyeing process?

Yes, using leave-in conditioners incorrectly can screw up your hair coloring process, both before the dye and after.

We’ll explain the interaction between leave-in conditioner and hair dye below.


Will Leave-In Conditioner Affect Hair Dye?

Leave-in conditioner is great to use before dying your hair. And it’s great to use after dying your hair.

It’s just that middle part where things get sketchy.

Leave-in conditioners coat your hair strands, which can make them healthier, shinier, and more resilient. But if you have leave-in conditioner in your hair while you’re dying it, some of the dye may not penetrate the hair shaft.

Consequently, you’ll have a splotchy, messy dye job. Grab a hat, you’ll need one.

If you have leave-in conditioner in your hair while you’re dying it, some of the dye may not penetrate the hair shaft.

This circumstance is the same, whether you’re dying your hair with a dye that doesn’t contain bleach, or if your dye does have bleach. If you have leave-in conditioner in your hair during the hair bleaching or dying process, things will go wrong.

How Does Leave-In Conditioner Work With Hair That Is Already Dyed?

A leave-in conditioner should be applied to color-treated hair after the dye has set. Doing so creates a protective barrier, making your dye less likely to wash out. It will help hydrate your hair, particularly if you lifted your hair color with bleach.

Do You Need Color-Safe Leave-In Conditioners?

It’s essential. Colored hair needs a conditioner specifically designed for absorbing proteins and preventing fading. This is true for both after-shampoo conditioners and leave-in ones.

One example of a color-safe leave-in conditioner is Purology Color-Fanatic Leave-In Conditioner.

Pureology Color Fanatic Leave-in Conditioner Hair Treatment Detangler Spray | Protects Hair Color From Fading | Heat Protectant | Vegan | 6.7 Fl Oz
  • Multi-Benefit Leave-In Spray: Color...
  • Multi-Tasking Formula: This moisturizing...
  • Key Benefits: Moisturizes dry, damaged...
  • Suggested Use: Use as your first styling...
  • Trusted by salons and Professionals,...

What About Bleached Or Lifted Hair?

If you used a semi-permanent dye, you didn’t lift your color. But if you used a permanent dye, your color likely involved a developer, and therefore, bleach and hair damage.

Maximum hydration is very important after bleaching.

This Redkin Bleach Recovery Conditioner  is a good example of a leave-in conditioner for bleached hair.

Redken Extreme Bleach Recovery Cica Cream Leave In Conditioner | For Bleached & Color Treated Hair | Reduces Hair Breakage | 5.1 Fl Oz
  • Redken Extreme Bleach Recovery Cica...
  • Strengthening leave-in treatment for...
  • Provides deep nourishment. Strengthens...
  • Deep conditioning and fortifying...
  • Reduces breakage. Restores a healthy...

Leave-In Conditioner Tips

Here are a few tips to help you learn how to use your leave-in conditioner as effectively as possible.

Not Just Any Conditioner

Just to be clear, leave-in conditioners are different than regular conditioners. You should not leave a regular conditioner in your hair as a substitute. That will just dry out your hair.

Not Too Much

Though it may be tempting to use a leave-in conditioner every day, that’s probably too much. Stick to using it about once a week.

The Dirty Hair Crusade!

Don’t wash your hair every day. It may be tempting, but it’s not a good idea.. It will erase the dye color and wash it out quicker than you want it to. Ideally, a hair dye should last for 20 to 25 days — by that we mean it should look as vibrant as it did on day one. 

We don’t want to start a dirty hair crusade, but it’s best to wash your dyed hair every 3 to 4 days.

Yep, that’s what you should be doing. We know, many don’t like the idea of waiting that long between washes. And lots of us tend to think their hair won’t look hydrated if they are not putting leave-in conditioner on every day after washing. 

Your hair doesn’t need leave-in conditioner every day, nor does it need to be washed every day.

Your hair doesn’t need leave-in conditioner every day, nor does it need to be washed every day.

A cadence of washing and conditioning every few days is good to allow the natural oils to build up and coat your hair. This will also help preserve the color from washing out.

All you have to do is wash your hair, apply a conditioner, then rinse. Detangle your hair with a comb, then apply a good quality leave-in conditioner as the hair is drying.

Can I Dye My Hair With a Conditioner?

This is a trend some people are starting to get on board with. You add some dye to your hair conditioner and let it sit for the time the developer bottle states.

This hasn’t been known to dye as well as the usual way. 

However, it is good for adding some subtle hints of color without dying the whole hair, a sort of peekaboo highlight feel.

The conditioner helps to distribute the dye through the hair evenly. If trying this method, only use semi-permanent dyes. Permanent dyes have developers, and mixed with conditioner, they can cause the dye to not distribute properly.

If trying this method, only use semi-permanent dyes.

Leave-In Conditioner Before Bleaching Hair

As we mentioned above, if you’re just about to bleach your hair, you should wait to use your leave-in conditioner. Using leave-in conditioner right before bleaching may cause the bleaching process to go awry.

Give your hair a few days break before bleaching, and make sure that leave-in conditioner is completely washed from the hair.

If you’re just about to bleach your hair, you should wait to use your leave-in conditioner.

You can resume using the leave-in conditioner after the bleaching process is complete.

Best Leave-in Conditioners to Use on Dyed Hair

Amp Up The Moisture

Hydration and moisturization are extremely important for hair that has been beaten up and battered by bleach and dyes.

BIOLAGE's Color-Safe Leave-In Conditioner  provides tons of moisture while being vegan, paraben, and silicone free. We love it!

Biolage Color Last Conditioner | Color Safe Conditioner | Helps Maintain Depth & Shine | For Color-Treated Hair | Paraben & Silicone-Free | Vegan​ | Cruelty Free | 13.5 Fl. Oz
  • Paraben Free Conditioner: Low pH...
  • Benefits: Color-treated hair often loses...
  • Additional Benefits: This product...
  • Suggested Use: Apply to wet hair and...
  • Color Last Collection: Color Last system...

UV protection is Key!

It is soul-crushing when your color fades just a few after you’ve colored it! Hair with high porosity can leak color when washed. (Learn about the hair porosity test here)

Unless you protect your hair from the sun, your hair color can fade quickly. Leave-In Conditioners with UV protection such as this Sun Bum Leave-In Conditioner  are an excellent option if you’re in a sunny environment.

Sun Bum Revitalizing 3 in 1 Leave-In Conditioner Spray Detangler | Anti Frizz , Paraben and Gluten Free, Vegan, and Color Safe with UV Protection | 4 oz
  • REVITALIZING 3-IN-1. By far the most...
  • EVERYDAY HAIR TREATMENT. This special...
  • HOW TO USE. Spray in wet or dry hair,...
  • PROTECT YOUR HAIR. The key to...
  • TRUST THE BUM. What does that mean. It...

Light-Weight Leave-Ins

Those with hair that is easily weighed down will benefit from lightweight leave-in conditioners. Leave-ins such as Amika Vault Color Lock Leave-In Conditioner usually come as sprays.

It doesn’t matter how lightweight a leave-in is, it should still provide moisture and hydration.

amika vault color-lock leave in conditioner ,6.7 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
  • This leave-in conditioner detangles,...
  • Amino acid complex strengthens the hair...
  • Restores shine and smoothness to hair...
  • Protects stressed hair from keratin...

Protein-Fortifying Conditioners

Leave-ins with protein (such as the Sun Bum mentioned above) are an excellent option for colored hair. A leave-in conditioner is primarily made up of keratin, the protein that forms most of the structure of your hair.

In combination with a leave-in, protein strengthens and fortifies your hair. It protects hair from split ends and breakage in the process.

What You Need to Know About Using a Leave-in Conditioner for Colored Hair

Leave-in conditioners are used on colored hair the same way as other hair types. First, use color-safe products to wash and condition your hair. After that, gently squeeze your hair to remove any excess moisture. 

After you’ve dampened it, apply your favorite leave-in conditioner.

Make sure you distribute it evenly throughout your hair, paying particular attention to the ends. Once you’ve combed it through, you can style it with a wide-toothed comb.


Leave-In conditioners help keep hair shimmering and healthy. But if they’re in your hair while you’re dying it they can ruin your dye job, and your day.

Stop using them a week or so before your dye date, and resume use a few days after it’s done. Your hair will thank you!

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).