Can you box dye dirty hair? It depends on how dirty your hair is…

woman looks at her dirty hair before applying box dye

  • If your hair is dirty because you haven’t washed it for 48 hours and you haven’t used hair products like gels, spray, leave-in conditioner, or dry shampoo, you can use box dye. Because the dye will penetrate each hair without any problems.
  • You shouldn’t use box dye if your hair is dirty because you haven’t washed it for more than three days or used hair-styling products or oils. Because residues from hair products or excess dirt will prevent the dye from changing your hair color.


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Can You Put Semi-Permanent Dye On Dirty Hair? I don’t recommend it…


 It’s hard for me to describe my clients’ faces when I ask them to come to the salon with dirty hair for dyeing it. 


It’s a face with mixed shock and astonishment, as if I were asking them to walk on water. But the truth is that all stylists agree it’s better to dye your hair when it’s dirty.

Now,   I want to clarify something. When I ask my clients to come to the salon with dirty hair before coloring, I’m not asking them to stop washing their hair for a week.  No one in their right mind would ask something like that.


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When we stylists refer to the fact that it’s always better to apply a dye to dirty hair, whether it’s a box or professional dye, what we’re talking about is dirty hair because it hasn’t been washed for two days.

It’s as simple as that.

woman washed her hair to dye it 48 hours later

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Therefore,  ideally, you should wash your hair, then wait 48 hours to use box dye. And it’s also important that during those 48 hours, you don’t use any hair products.  Why?

That’s what I’ll talk about shortly.


Why you should use box hair dye on dirty hair

Palette box dye should be applied on dirty hair

We already explained that  if you want to use a box dye, it’s best if your hair is dirty because you haven’t washed it for 48 hours. 


Why? Because the natural oil your scalp expels during those 48 hours will protect your hair from the harsh dye chemicals.


That’s why  we stylists always recommend our clients don’t wash their hair between 48 and 72 hours beforehand if they’re renewing the dye or using a hair dye for the first time. 



  • The natural oil prevents scalp irritation and protects three centimeters of hair growth.
  • The color won’t turn out uneven.
  • The texture and condition of the hair can be fully evaluated.


Now,  if your hair is dirty because you use several hair products, e.g. styling creams, the answer changes radically. 


You shouldn’t use box dye on hair with traces of hair products

woman applies box dye on dirty hair

 Hair product residues can alter the color result, even ruining it completely. 



Because box dyes are permanent and contain developer, or hydrogen peroxide. This chemical opens the hair cuticles so the color can penetrate your hair fiber and change your hair’s color.

What will happen if the hair cuticles open but your hair has traces of hair products?


 Those hair product residues will also penetrate inside the hair along with the dye. The color won’t stick evenly. 
  •  At best , the color will turn out faded.
  •  Worst case scenario , your hair will be streaked with color, like a Dalmatian’s fur.


Therefore, what do you do if you use styling products daily? Before using the box dye, wash your hair with your usual shampoo, then wait 48 hours to dye it. You should also remove any dry shampoo residue before coloring your hair.


Another option is to wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo, then wait 72 hours to apply the dye from your box. That way the oil from your scalp will rehydrate your hair naturally.



Wash your hair, then wait between 48 and 72 hours to box dye your hair. This way, the oil from your scalp will protect your hair without interfering with the dye.

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