Can You Dye Freshly Washed Hair?: Read Before You Start

By: | Last Updated: October 26, 2023

Short answer: Yes, you can dye freshly washed hair. But just because you can does not mean you should. How you prepare your hair for dyeing depends on several factors including the type of hair color you will get and whether your scalp is oily or not.

Getting your hair dyed is a big deal, especially if it is your first time. Understandably, you would want to prepare yourself and your hair in the best way possible to minimize the risk of damaging your crowning glory. This article will help you do just that without giving in to the famous myths about hair care practices before and after getting dyed.

In the following sections, we will explore what happens to the hair when washed, how often one should dye their hair, and whether it is safe to dye freshly washed hair.

What Happens To Your Hair When You Wash It?

To let you have a better judgment on whether it is a good idea to wash your hair right before dyeing it, let us first have a quick run through of what happens to your hair as you wash it.

Your hair shaft has a protective outer layer called the cuticle. The cuticle maintains your hair’s hydration balance. Procedures that involve harsh chemicals or too much heat can damage the cuticle, thereby affecting your hair’s hydration balance. This ultimately results in dry and frizzy hair.

When you wash your hair with shampoo, the chemicals in the shampoo strip your hair and scalp off of its natural oils. As a result, the oil glands in your scalp will produce more oil to compensate for the dryness. Those who have dry scalps, meanwhile, will only have an even drier scalp after shampooing.

In short, your hair is dry and vulnerable after washing. Given this information, is it still wise to put coloring chemicals to your freshly washed hair? The answer is obviously no. However, we also do not recommend dyeing dirty hair. 

As a middle ground, there should be a considerable amount of time between dyeing and your last hair wash. We will talk more about that later. 

Can you dye freshly washed hair?

There are so many myths surrounding practices for dyeing hair. For instance, there is this famous belief that hairstylists encourage clients to not wash their hair three days before their hair dye appointment. This is because, apparently, dirty hair can protect your strands from the harsh chemicals of hair dye.  

Some say that this was true way before when hair colorants are made of harsh ingredients. Now that hair colors are safer and more gentle, it is relatively safe to dye clean hair. Moreover, hairstylists nowadays discourage coloring dirty hair because of its accompanying downsides. 

Dyeing dirty hair might result in uneven color after the dyeing process. If you are light-haired, having dirty locks might make your hair look a few shades darker than it actually is, which may confuse your stylist as they choose the best products to use on you.

For those reasons, it is better to dye clean hair than dirty ones. But clean hair does not mean straight-out-of-the-shower hair. It is still not advisable to dye freshly washed hair because this is when the hair is at its most vulnerable state. 

One of the most important factors that affect hair dye absorption is hair porosity. Hair porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb moisture. The higher the porosity of your hair, the more absorbent it is of external products, and therefore more susceptible to damage. 

Fine, thin, straight hair and curly, textured hair are normally more porous than thick, straight hair. The former textures have thinner hair cuticles which allows for over-absorption. Meanwhile, dryness and damage make your hair even more porous. 

Washing your hair, regardless of its natural porosity, will make it temporarily more porous than its natural porosity. This is why we do not recommend dyeing freshly washed hair. 

High porosity hair allows water to freely flow in and out of the hair. This means that porous hair easily gets wet but gets dry just as quickly because it allows for faster evaporation of water. Hence, if you dye highly porous, freshly washed hair, it will probably over-absorb the product which results in duller color. Highly porous hair is also susceptible to color fading as the cuticles can leak color pigments.

Dyeing freshly washed hair does not have visible dramatic consequences. Much of the consequences happen on a molecular-level where hair colorants enter the inner layers of the hair and damage it from the inside. 

If you dye your freshly washed hair, expect to have increased dryness and frizz. Also, expect that the color will easily fade, especially a few days after the coloring process. Uneven and patchy hair color is another possible consequence. 

Hence, it is best to wash your hair 24 to 48 hours before your hair coloring appointment. This is a fair compromise between dirty hair and fresh-out-of-the-shower hair. This way, your hair is clean from dirt and product build-up. Also, it is not dry and porous because the scalp has had enough time to produce and distribute natural oils along the strands.  

How to prepare your hair for dyeing

Different hair textures require different pre-dyeing preparations. But the universal rule of thumb is to not shampoo right before the coloring sesh. Again, it is best to leave a 24- to 48-hour window between your last wash and your hair dye appointment.

It is also recommended for all hair types to use a clarifying shampoo for your last wash before dyeing. This helps remove dirt and product build-up while also evening out the hair’s porosity.

For those with textured hair, you may also opt to deep condition your hair on your last wash. This helps minimize the damage from ammonia-rich hair dyes. Those with thick hair, meanwhile, may opt for a hot oil treatment one week before the hair dye schedule.

After your last wash, make sure that you do not put other hair products on your hair. Also avoid heating or curling your hair. Keep it in its most natural state possible. Comb from time to time to spread the natural oils from the scalp to the hair shafts.

There are a few things that you should know prior to dyeing your hair for health and safety reasons. 

  1. First, do not forget to patch test the dye 48 hours before dyeing. Simply apply a tiny bit of dye behind your ear and let it sit for 24 to 48 hours to see if your skin reacts to it. 
  2. Second, do not leave the dye on your hair longer than the required amount of time. Making the dye sit longer than it should will not result in better color. Instead, it might even irritate your scalp.
  3. Third, use gloves when mixing and applying the dye. Hair dye has chemicals that can burn or irritate the skin. It is not wise to let your hand be exposed to the dye for too long. Gloves are required when dyeing the hair.
  4. Fourth, if you plan to dye your hair alone and at home, do not mix two different dyes together. Dyes chemically react when mixed. You do not want to put an unknown chemical reaction to your hair and scalp.
  5. Finally, thoroughly rinse your scalp after dyeing. This is to prevent irritation from prolonged exposure to chemicals. Also, rinsing helps remove excess hair color. If excess hair color is not rinsed immediately, it will oxidize. This will result in dry, brittle hair and dull hair color.

Frequently asked questions

1. How often can you dye your hair?

You *can* dye your hair every other week if you want to. But, as mentioned earlier, just because you can doesn’t mean you *should*. 

Surprisingly, hair stylists approve that you can dye your hair every six to eight weeks! But this entirely depends on how healthy your hair is. 

Those with naturally dry hair and scalp might want to take a few months off of hair color before dyeing again. However, as part of hair color maintenance, it is necessary to touch up every few weeks. In this case, those with dry hair should incorporate a moisturizing hair care routine to compensate for the dryness that hair dyes cause.

If you are using bleach, it is best to wait eight to ten weeks before bleaching your hair again. Bleaching strips your hair off of its natural color, so imagine the damage it will do if you do it very often. 

If you notice that your hair has become very dry and brittle after your previous dye job, then it is best to pass up on the next hair dye appointment. It is very tempting to dye your hair again, but considering your hair’s condition, it will not be the best course of action. 

To avoid further regrets, allow your hair to recover before considering another hair coloring appointment.

2. Can you dye your hair after a keratin treatment?

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So, you want smooth and silky hair and also vibrant color? Now you are thinking if it is possible to immediately dye your hair after a keratin treatment or vice versa. The simple answer is no. You cannot dye your hair immediately after a keratin treatment. Similarly, you cannot get a keratin treatment right after dyeing your hair.

The rule is that you should wait two weeks in between your keratin treatment and hair dye process. Whichever comes first does not matter, as long as there is a two-week distance between those two procedures. 

If you dye your hair immediately after getting a keratin treatment, your hair will not reap all of the benefits that the keratin treatment offers. On the other hand, getting a keratin treatment right after dyeing will make your hair color look uneven and patchy. In both cases, you will be wasting money for not maximizing the benefits of the two procedures.

3. Can you dye your hair if it is damaged?

Again, it is not a wise choice to dye damaged hair. Hair dyes cause inevitable damage to healthy hair, making it drier and more brittle, especially when not accompanied by a rigorous and moisture-intensive hair care routine.

If you dye already damaged hair, it is highly likely that you will end up with even drier and frizzier hair. But if the desire is too strong to ignore, you can always opt for a semi-permanent hair dye which is less damaging than permanent ones

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is not advisable to dye freshly washed hair. You should at least wait for 24 to 48 hours after your last wash before dyeing your hair.

Keep in mind that your hair texture greatly impacts how you should dye your hair. 

Those with fine, straight hair or curly, textured hair should focus on moisturizing procedures before dyeing. This is because their hair is porous and will likely be dry after applying hair dye. To minimize these negative effects, deep conditioning 48 hours before dyeing is recommended.

Those with thick, straight hair, meanwhile, may also protect their hair from damage by undergoing a hot oil treatment at least a week before dyeing. 

As for the frequency of hair dyeing, it is generally allowed to dye your hair every six to eight weeks. However, if your hair is not in its optimum condition, it is best to prolong the timeframe in between hair dye appointments. 

Dry and damaged hair should avoid hair coloring. Allow hair to recover first before dyeing it again. If hair dyeing is inevitable for damaged hair, at least maintain a very moisture-intensive hair care routine to compensate for the dryness. Also, use semi-permanent hair dyes instead of permanent ones as they are less harmful for the hair.

People dye their hair for various reasons. It may be for aesthetics or for vibrantly expressing their personality. Whatever the reason is, hair dyeing should be done safely and responsibly. 

Now that you have come to the end of this article, you can proudly say that you have done quite a bit of research on the dos and don’ts of hair dyeing—like a responsible individual would.

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