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Is It Better to Dye Your Hair Clean or Dirty? Truth Revealed

Is It Better to Dye Your Hair Clean or Dirty - a girl dyeing her hair
a girl dyeing her hair

Hair is your fashion statement; you carry your style daily! When it comes to styling your hair, you have endless options; from highlights to hair dyes and whatnot! If you decide to dye your hair, you may wonder about the hair care, steps, and precautions involved.

Yes, there are a lot of things to consider generally about mixing the ingredients, applying them, and also what condition your hair needs to be in before dyeing. Can you dye freshly washed hair? Or should the hair be dirty?

If you’re a newbie and still unsure whether to dye your hair dirty or clean, we’re here to help you.

Should I Dye Dirty or Clean Hair?

a girl dyeing her hair
a girl dyeing her hair

While it’s never convenient to go for a hair dye with dirty hair, you may be doing your hair a great favor. Hair stylists recommend that your hair be a bit dirty before dyeing because your scalp’s natural oil protects against the harmful chemicals present in the dye.

As an extra coating, the grease on your scalp reduces the break and damage to the hair when the cuticle is broken down during dyeing, thereby reducing irritation as well—the more the hair oil, the greater the protection of your hair during hair coloring.

Yet, this doesn’t mean your hair should be too dirty before dyeing; it shouldn’t be squeaky clean. How dirty should my hair be when I dye it? Whether your hair should be clean or dirty depends on what type of dye you’re using.

Clean Hair for Semi-Permanent Dyes

For using a semi-permanent or temporary dye, your hair needs to be as clean as you can keep them. These dyes don’t contain hydrogen peroxide or ammonia to cross the hair cuticles and leave off the color. They only stain the outermost coating of your hair.

Semi-permanent dyes need a clean canvas since they don’t move through the hair shaft, and the oil coating, in this case, will only make it harder for the dye to stick to the shaft. So, for semi-permanent dyes, wash your hair immediately or at least 24 hours earlier.

Permanent Dyes for Not-so-Clean Hair

According to research, permanent hair dyes often have ammonia for opening the hair cuticles. This potent ingredient can bypass your scalp’s natural oils, so your hair need not be squeaky clean for the dye to work. If you freshly washed your hair with this dye, you may experience burning or scalp irritation when the shade sits.

Yet, your hair shouldn’t be too dirty, either. Stylists recommend washing the hair 48 hours before you use a permanent dye to achieve the best results. Neither freshly washed nor very dirty hair is the best for this dye.

Should you Wash Your Hair Before Coloring?

closeup of a girl washing her hair
closeup of a girl washing her hair

While the myth has it that you don’t need to wash your hair before dying, stylists recommend that your hair should be washed 1 or 2 days before dying.

You see, freshly washed and clean hair increases the difficulty of dyeing, primarily if your stylist uses a paint-on technique. Since freshly washed hair offers more flyaways, it is harder to deal with them, especially baby hair.

You can read about How Long to Wait to Wash Hair After Coloring for more information!

Can You Wash Your Hair the Same Day as You Dye It?

a girl having a hair wash at a salon
a girl having a hair wash at a salon

While it is possible to wash your hair the same day as dyeing it, it’s recommended by experts that you don’t do that. What happens is that cleaning on the same day poses multiple risks to your scalp and also your hair color results.

If you want the best dye results with your hair protection, you should refrain from washing your hair on the same day as dyeing it.

Washing Hair Before Dyeing; A Few Tips

a girl washing her hair
a girl washing her hair before dyeing

It isn’t always about when to wash your hair; you must also think about the right way to clean it. Here are a few tips for washing hair before dying it.

Using Clarified Shampoo

You need to clean your hair well, so instead of using a regular shampoo, opt for a clarified one with cleansing ingredients.

Don’t Condition the Hair

Once your hair is washed, try not to apply a conditioner as the ingredients, and silicon in it can affect the working of your dye.

Rub Your Scalp with Care

Try not to rub your scalp too vigorously or harshly when cleaning or massaging it. Some people use their nails during shampooing or massaging; please don’t do that. If you get scratches or abrasions during the wash, your dye may cause a burning sensation.

The Verdict

Should I wash my hair before foil highlights or dyeing? Ultimately, we can say that a quick wash isn’t the best idea. But do wash your hair 1 or 2 days before dyeing them for the best results. For a permanent dye, 1 to 2 days are good, but it’s best to wash immediately earlier for a semi-permanent one. We hope you got all your answers here!


Can I dye my hair when it’s greasy?

Yes, you can conveniently apply the dye to your greasy hair, but you should still be careful. If your hair is greasy, the dye color may become too diluted. Just take care of that, and you’re good to go.

Do hair stylists prefer clean or dirty hair for coloring?

As is expected, most stylists would prefer not very freshly washed hair. Most dyes work better on hair that isn’t very newly washed. You can easily skip a day for the wash to let the oils build up to protect against the hair dye chemicals.

Is it better to have clean or dirty hair before getting highlights?

If you’re coming for hair highlights, it’s best to let your hair be dirty. The second or third day of the wash may work fine. Slightly dirty hair makes it easier for the stylist to set the hair foils, and dirty hair holds the hair color better.

Is it bad to wash your hair the day you get highlights?

Yes, it’s not the best option because if you wash your hair on the same day, it may wash away all the beautiful colors before your hair can absorb them.

Why do salons wash your hair after coloring?

Salons usually wash the hair after dying because it rids the hair of any extra color and also distributes the color evenly among your hair, leaving your hair salon fresh and natural. Since your hair will be washed at the salon, you don’t need to wash them at home.

How long before highlights should I wash my hair?

If you’re planning on getting highlights or color dye at the salon or at home, it’s best to wash your hair 1 or 2 days before. This gives your hair enough time to make natural oil to protect your hair against the dye chemicals.

How soon can you wash your hair after highlights?

After you’re done with the highlights, it’s better to let your hair be unwashed for 48 or 72 hours. Usually, you should wait for 48 ot 72 hours before you wash.

I haven’t washed my hair in 4 days. Can I dye it?

Yes, even if you haven’t washed your hair for four days, you can still dye it. But before dying, rinse your hair with water, and don’t use a conditioner or shampoo.


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