Should You Wash Your Hair Before Coloring It?

Learn the importance and benefits of hair cleansing before adding hair dye to your mane.

Reviewed by Laura Dale, Licensed Cosmetologist Laura Dale Laura DaleLicensed Cosmetologist linkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
Edited by , BA, MSc Eshna Das BA, MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature) Swathi E MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years

Coloring your hair offers a brand-new look, and it involves many steps. But should you wash your hair before coloring it? This question is common to all who are new to hair coloring techniques. From pre-coloring procedures to after-care tips, each step is important as it can make or break your overall hair appearance. This article discusses when you must wash your hair before coloring it, how to wash it, and what products to use and avoid. Take a look.

Should You Wash Your Hair Before Coloring It?

Woman running her hand through her unwashed hair
Image: Shutterstock

You should not wash your hair right before coloring it. Shampooing right before coloring strips the natural oils, and coloring can further dry out the hair and cause hair breakage.

This does not mean you can dye oily, greasy, and dirty hair. The hair and scalp should be clean but not excessively greasy before dyeing. Excessive oil and grease can affect the color payoff and may give inconsistent results. Laura Dale, a licensed cosmetologist, explains that gray hair may not get covered thoroughly because the hair color cannot break through excess oil.

So, what is the ideal time to wash your hair before coloring? Read on to find out!

When To Wash Your Hair Before Coloring

Woman towel-drying her washed hair one day before coloring it
Image: Shutterstock

Ideally, you should wash your hair 12-24 hours before coloring it. By that time, the scalp will produce some amount of natural oils and sebum to form a thin, protective layer on the strands. This helps prevent excess hair and scalp damage and irritation. Apart from the protective barrier, there will be a healthy friction between the hair that makes it way more manageable and comfortable to section.

Although you know how to wash your hair, there are a few pointers to keep in mind when you are washing it before coloring.

How To Wash The Hair The Right Way Before Coloring It

Woman using a clarifying shampoo one day before coloring her hair
Image: Shutterstock

As a pre-treatment, here is how you can wash your hair:

  1. Use a clarifying shampoo to wash your hair and remove any product buildup from the scalp.
  2. Follow up with a hydrating conditioner.
  3. Wash thoroughly from the roots to the ends.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Scrub your hair before the hair dye appointment if you have light-colored locks, as dirty hair can make your tresses look a shade or two darker, affecting the result.

Some products are ideal if used as a preparation for, and some are a big no-no. In the next section, we have discussed that in detail.

What Products To Use And Avoid Before Coloring

A spread of hair care products to use before coloring your hair
Image: Shutterstock

Products To Use

  • Pre-Color Treatment: A few weeks before coloring, use deep hydrating conditioners (if you are not already) and hair masks, and try oil treatments at home or a hair spa. These products will prep your hair for the coloring session and prevent excessive damage.
  • Clarifying Shampoo: Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo 12-24 hours before coloring. Clarifying shampoo removes product buildup and excessive grease and dirt from the hair and scalp. Always follow up with a conditioner.
  • Non-Oily Products: If you are using serums and sprays, use a lightweight and non-oily product to avoid oil and grease buildup.
  • Dye Removers: Only get a dye removal done if recommended by your hair colorist or stylist. Hair expert and licensed cosmetologist Laura Dale says, “Dye removers should not be used before a salon visit. The stylist can address any issues with the previous color.”

Nika, a beauty and hairstyle YouTuber, demonstrated how she preps her hair before dyeing it. She used coconut oil, shea butter, and glycerine to moisturize her hair so it wouldn’t get damaged easily. She says, “When prepping my hair like this, my main focus is like retaining the moisture and then once I actually dye my hair, my focus is retaining that strength. So I do some sort of protein treatment or deep-condition it (i).”

protip_icon Did You Know?
The Founder of L’Oréal, Eugène Schueller, was the first person to create synthetic hair dye in 1907.

Products To Avoid
  • Oil: Hair care with oil treatments weeks before coloring is reasonable for hair maintenance. However, avoid oiling your hair right before coloring.
  • Heavy Styling Products: Stay away from cosmetics and hair products, such as gels, hairsprays, and serums that may cause scalp buildup. You may style your hair with these products weeks before but not the same day as your color treatment.
  • Dry Shampoo: Dry shampoo, especially on the hair ends, may affect color payoff. Avoid using it right before coloring.

Since the one product you should be using 12-24 hours before coloring is a shampoo, let us determine what kind of shampoo is best for proper hair hygiene.

What To Look For In A Shampoo

Woman looking for the right shampoo before coloring her hair
Image: Shutterstock

Not every shampoo does the job. Some shampoos are too mild to get all the grease and dirt off the hair, making them ineffective in achieving the cleanliness that you desire. A clarifying shampoo is ideal for thorough cleansing.

Unlike your everyday shampoo, a clarifying shampoo contains high SLS levels (a detergent) that can provide deep cleansing to remove the remnants of gels, mousse, hairsprays, and any trace of hair products that stick to the scalp and sebum. Licensed cosmetologist Laura Dale elaborates that clarifying shampoos have a high pH level which opens hair cuticles to provide a deep cleansing process.

However, it is not recommended to use one every day as it may damage your hair. Use it once in two weeks and always follow up with a nourishing conditioner.

Color-treated hair requires careful care and maintenance. Learn in the next section how you can maintain your color-treated hair.

Tips For Maintaining Color-Treated Hair

Here is a list of tips to help maintain your hair color while also keeping it healthy and shiny:

  • Use sulfate-free and color-safe shampoos and conditioners.
  • Use dry shampoo between washes to remove impurities.
  • Use heat protectants to protect your colored hair from heat damage.
  • Wash your hair with lukewarm water instead of hot water.
  • Limit exposure to chlorinated water or wear a swimming cap while swimming.
  • Get regular trims to get rid of split ends and promote healthy hair growth.

Infographic: Dos And Don’ts Before Coloring Your Hair

Coloring your hair can be a great way to transform your look. However, it is important to take the necessary precautions to protect your hair and achieve the best possible results. We have created a comprehensive guide on what you should and shouldn’t do before coloring your hair. Check out the infographic below to know more.

dos and don’ts before coloring your hair (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

For all those new to coloring their hair, you should not wash your hair before coloring it. This is because washing strips your hair of its natural oils and chemicals in the hair color may make your hair drier. It is recommended that you use 12 to 24 hours before coloring to prevent hair damage. Ensure that you use a clarifying shampoo and hydrating conditioners to keep your hair clean and moisturized. Avoid using dry shampoo or oil just before coloring your hair to prevent any issues with coloring.

Key Takeaways

  • It is essential to keep your hair clean and dry before coloring.
  • Washing your hair 12-24 hours before coloring helps maintain the right amount of natural oils to form a protective barrier.
  • Using a clarifying shampoo and pre-color treatment helps enhance the hair dye effects.
Wash Your Hair Before Coloring It

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I wash my hair after coloring?

Wait for two days post-coloring before washing your hair.

Can the color wash out if you wash hair too often after coloring?

Yes, frequent washing may fade the color making your hair lose its beauty.

Why do salons wash your hair before coloring?

Salons usually wash your hair before coloring to ensure that there is no residue that could affect the color tone while your hair is dyed your chosen shade.

Is it better to dye hair wet or dry?

It is better to dye dry hair if you want a permanent hair color job or want to make detailed color changes to your hair. Wet hair works well for demi- and semi-permanent hair dyes. However, it is better to avoid dyeing wet hair if your hair is damaged or dehydrated as it can absorb a lot of water and very less color.

Wondering if you should wash your hair before coloring it? Watch this video to find out the answer!

Personal Experience: Source

Laura Dale

Laura DaleLicensed Cosmetologist

Laura Dale is a Hair Expert and licensed Cosmetologist with over 20 years of experience. Laura has worked as a Global Education Director for Beauty Brands specializing in haircare and as a Beauty Editor she is passionate about sharing her love of beauty products and hair full bio

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