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

blonde woman wrapped in a towel as if waiting for an answer

  • Your hair must be clean and dry to apply the semi-permanent hair dye.
  • The semi-permanent hair dye doesn’t penetrate the hair. It’s simply deposited on the outer layer, like a film of color.
  • If your hair is even slightly dirty, the color particles won’t adhere to your hair.
  • I’ll tell you how to properly wash your hair before applying the semi-permanent hair dye.


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Now you know.

 You shouldn’t apply semi-permanent hair dye to your dirty hair because it should be applied to perfectly clean and dry hair. 


And I think I can guess where the confusion comes from.

You’ve probably read that you should not wash your hair before coloring it. And it’s true.

But it’s true if you use a permanent hair dye.


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Permanent hair dye contains ammonia and is applied with a developer. You shouldn’t wash your hair before applying it because the natural scalp oil protects it from the aggression of the chemicals.


But the process changes with semi-permanent hair dye.

Do you want to know why?

Let’s see!


Why should you apply semi-permanent hair dye to clean, dry hair?

hairdresser applies semi-permanent dye to clean hair

Unlike permanent hair dye, semi-permanent hair dye doesn’t contain ammonia and is not applied with a developer. And it has another unique feature.

Semi-permanent hair color doesn’t penetrate the hair.


Instead, it works by depositing the color particles on the outermost layer of the hair. That’s why your hair must not be dirty if you want to dye it with a semi-permanent hair dye.

 If you want the semi-permanent dye to color your hair evenly, your hair must be clean and dry. 
  • If your hair is dry, the dye won’t drip. You’ll be able to notice the areas of your hair without dye. This is a personal advice from my experience, even though some brands of semi-permanent hair dyes claim that you can apply them on wet and dry hair.
  • The dye won’t adhere to the outer layer if your hair is dirty or has traces of hair products. Therefore, your color will be uneven, or you may not even be able to change your hair color.


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Can you imagine what would happen if you applied semi-permanent hair color to your dirty hair?


Imagine that you used a mouse to shape your curls or you dry-washed your hair the previous day. The following day, you apply a fuchsia semi-permanent hair dye.

What will happen to the color?


  • Residue from the dry shampoo would prevent the dye pigments from adhering to your hair. Therefore,  instead of fuchsia hair, you would hopefully get a pastel, uneven pink. 
  • Also, as the dye pigments didn’t fully adhere to the hair, the color would last only hours.

color de pelo rubio desparejo con mechas rosas

Therefore, your hair has to be COMPLETELY CLEAN before applying the semi-permanent hair color for perfect and even coverage.

Now, how do you wash your hair correctly?


How to wash your hair properly before applying a semi-permanent hair dye

hair wash only with shampoo

 The secret for the color to be even and adhere perfectly to your hair is that there is no dirt or residue from hair products. 

Therefore, you shouldn’t use a conditioner or natural oils. And of course,  you shouldn’t use dry shampoo. 


Any of these three products leave residues that will interfere with the color of the dye.

Therefore, to wash your hair properly before coloring it with semi-permanent hair dye, you only need your usual shampoo and warm water:

  • Wet your hair for three minutes.
  • Apply the shampoo and massage it all over your hair.
  • Rinse the shampoo with warm water.
  • Drain excess with a towel.
  • FULLY blow-dry your hair.
  • Apply the semi-permanent hair dye.

Most semi-permanent hair dyes have a creamy consistency, so they moisturize your hair like a conditioner.



Semi-permanent hair dyes are applied to completely clean and dry hair. This way, you ensure that the color settles and lasts longer.

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