Is it better to dye your hair wet or dry? How to prepare your hair before Dying?

Suppose you’re new to this bandwagon of coloring your hair. In that case, you must have many questions, from the type of color to choose, to wash or not to wash your hair before getting the hair colored.

Applying color to wet or dry hair is a detail that people rarely give too much attention to.

When you are dying your hair at your home, you might have read the instructions that say that the color needs to be applied on wet hair, but when you go to a salon, they apply the color on dry hair. There might be some times when you are left wondering, why is that? 

Today we’re going to tell you the answer. Honestly, it all depends on the kind of hair color that you are using, whether it is a permanent hair color or a semi or demi-permanent hair color. So let’s explore more about this, whether dying your hair is better with dry hair or wet hair.

Is it better to dye your hair wet or dry?

should you dye your hair wet or dry?

As we mentioned earlier, hair dye can be used on both dry and wet hair. What makes the difference is the type of hair color that is being used to color your hair.

Generally, a semi-permanent dye can be applied to either dry hair or wet hair.

However, it is better with wet hair if it is ammonia and peroxide-free.

It works better for toners and some pastel colors too. But permanent dye should only be applied to dry hair so that the hair’s natural oil can lessen peroxide’s damaging effects.

Dry hair also helps in maximum lifting and depositing results. When your hair is wet, water in the hair acts as a filler and dilutes the pigments, making the shade of the color weak.

Fresh lifted hair is porous. It can soak the dominant stain in color formation, giving undesirable results, which is why the hair is generally toned when damp.

Applying the hair color to dry hair also ensures that hair is evenly colored. That’s because wet hair could give splotchy results, as some areas might be damper than others.

Furthermore, to be clear, when we say wet, we mean uniformly damp hair. The hair should not be dripping wet.

Is it better to wash your hair before you dye it?

It is an age-old myth that you should not wash hair before coloring it, but honestly, hair color is best absorbed when the hair is clean.

Not washing your hair before coloring used to be recommended when the hair color products were full of chemicals and were harsh on your hair.

But now the products are comparatively gentle, and although the oil and dirt in the hair might protect your scalp from the irritation of chemicals, it could also turn off your stylist. 

You should also keep a few points in mind while washing your hair, like do not scratch your scalp aggressively as it might tingle or burn due to the application of bleach and color.

If you work out, wash your hair before coloring service as excess oil in the hair lifts poorly and processes slowly and doesn’t color well.

You should also shampoo well before your coloring service if you apply oil to your hair. Oils are heavy products that render the color ineffective and make the highlights bleed everywhere.

It would be best if you tried dyeing on wet hair when you want a subtle dimension. Wet balayage is a new technique that colors on damp hair and gives impressive results. If you have thick and coarse hair, then also wet dyeing can help.

How long do you have to wait to dye your hair after you wash it?

It would be best if you never shampooed right before your coloring service because it removes the natural oils that protect the scalp from the coloring process.

It also does not give your hair the time to dry completely, leaving a few parts damper than others, which might cause uneven coloring of hair.

So, the best solution is always to wash your hair 12-24 hours before your coloring service, as then the hair is not freshly washed, which would devoid the hair of its natural oils. The hair is not very greasy too.

The hair would have the right amount of dirt and oil particles to create a barrier against the hair color’s harmful chemicals.

Suppose you are coloring with a semi-permanent color; in that case, the recommended period for washing is 12-24 hours prior. At the same time, if it is a Demi-permanent product, shampooing 24 hours prior is recommended.

Can I dye hair that hasn’t been washed in a week?

You can dye hair that hasn’t been washed in a week and is greasy. But if you should dye your greasy hair, it depends on the amount of grease in your hair.

Suppose you’re someone whose hair gets greasy after just 1-2 days of washing. In that case, you should really consider washing hair a day before the appointment.

But, if your scalp doesn’t get oily even after a few days of washing, then you can go ahead and dye your hair even if it hasn’t been washed in a week. It won’t matter.

Washing greasy hair is also conditional on the kind of hair dye that you’re using. If you are using semi-permanent hair color, then a lot of product build-up or grease is not recommended.

But if you’re bleaching, then natural oils in the hair will cover up for the lack of moisture and won’t ruin your hair further.

And suppose you are using a permanent hair dye; in that case, it damages the hair, so if you have natural oils present in your scalp, it acts as a protector from the dye’s chemicals.

Also, if you plan on going a shade lighter, it’s good to have some natural oil on the scalp, you can apply some oil on the mid-lengths and ends to make it feel soft, but it shouldn’t be too oily.

But if you aren’t planning on going lighter, you should shampoo your hair the day before your coloring service.

Can I color my hair the same day I wash it?

It is generally better to wash your hair a day before the coloring appointment. A gap of a minimum of 12 hours should be there between the time you shampoo and your salon appointment.

If you wash your hair the same day you get it colored, the hair would still be unevenly damp. Because the hair would be wet, the color will not stay properly, and the result will be an uneven head of hair color.

If you wash your hair the same day you color it, your hair won’t get enough time to get that natural oily build-up. The oil build-up also helps to keep the hair moisturized as coloring renders your hair parched and damaged.

How should you prepare your hair before dying it?

Instead of just counting down the days to your coloring session, you can start prepping your hair for the color so that it lasts longer, takes better, and has more shine. A few things that you can do to prepare your hair are:

  • If you have a lot of time before your session, you can apply a clarifying treatment on your hair to get rid of all the build-up and oil. You can use any clarifying shampoo, or you can mix baking soda in your shampoo. After the clarifying treatment, you can condition your hair as usual.
  • If your hair is damaged, then coloring your hair would add to the damage. Instead, you can regularly get a protein treatment for a few weeks to add some strength to the hair. It is generally helpful to get the damaged hair trimmed before the appointment so that there are no split ends. You should make sure that your hair is healthy enough to sustain the harmful effects of chemicals from the hair color.
  • Since coloring your hair would eliminate all the oils, it is good to get your hair deep conditioning treatment. It helps in retaining moisture and balances your hair’s pH. If your hair is moisturized well, the color also covers the hair evenly.
  • Save a few ideas of how you want your hair color to turn out so that you can discuss them with your colorist. They can tell you what would look good on you, and it can save you from that unwanted final hair result. But it would be best if you give your stylist the creative freedom to work on your hair in the way they want to. You never know; you might end up with something even better.


You should always remember to check your color box, no matter what kind of dye you are using. Read all the ingredients and make sure that you know what you are applying to your hair.

Hair color can be applied on both wet and dry hair; just the difference is in the kind of hair dye you are using. And even then, you should double-check the labels to make sure that there is no ammonia or peroxides in the formula.

Also, make sure to only wash with a shampoo and don’t condition, as that will give you the best pigmentation. Getting your hair colored is something that everyone looks forward to, and everyone wants the process to be error-free. So keep these tips in mind to get a smooth and gorgeous result.