Should You Wash Your Hair Before Coloring It?

Written by Ramona Sinha

If you are reading this article, you must be new to the world of coloring and have this age-old dilemma! Luckily, we have the answer.

Coloring the hair is a big step. Every step taken before, during, and after the session can make or break the look. From pre-coloring hair washing techniques to the products to use or avoid, this article will help you navigate through all your hair dyeing dilemmas. Read on.

Should You Wash Your Hair Before Coloring It?

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.

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

When To Wash Your Hair Before Coloring

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

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.

Some products are ideal if used before coloring, 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

Products To Use

  • Pre-Color Treatment: A few weeks before coloring,  use deep hydrating conditioners (if you are not already) and hair masks, get oil treatments and go for hair spas. 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: This is not mandatory. If you have dyed your hair before and want to remove the traces of the previous color, use a dye remover.

Products To Avoid

  • Oil: Oil treatments weeks before coloring is reasonable. However, avoid oiling your hair right before coloring.
  • Heavy Styling Products: Stay away from products like gels, hairsprays, and serums that may cause scalp buildup. You may use these weeks before but not a few days before coloring.
  • 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 the job.

What To Look For In A Shampoo

Not every shampoo does the job. Some shampoos are too mild to get all the grease and dirt off the hair. 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.

Look for shampoos that have sodium lauryl sulfate. 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.


Be it a basic brown for gray coverage or popping purple highlights, hair coloring is a daring task. You must get all the steps right, including the prep. Washing the hair just before coloring may damage the hair. That is why you should always wash your hair at least 24-hours before coloring. Well-prepped hair is easily manageable and will give a rich color payoff.

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.

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