Clean or dirty hair before highlights? Short answer: Dirty

applying dye to dirty hair

  • Your hair should be DIRTY before highlights, whether you do them yourself or at a salon.
  • Allow two days after washing your hair to get your highlights done. For example, if you plan to do your highlights on Thursday, wash your hair on Tuesday. Alternatively, if you plan to do your highlights on Friday, wash your hair on Wednesday.
  • I’ll tell you why it’s best to have your hair dirty before this coloring process, and I’ll also give you 2 other super-tips for your highlights.


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If you’re planning a makeover, you already know that highlights are a great option to look amazing.

You may be wondering how dirty your hair should be before having highlights done. Let’s look for the answer and all the  secrets you need to know before getting highlights. 


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Homemade highlights

hair dye two days after dyeing

You may be planning to do your highlights yourself. Remember to stop washing your hair for two days. Do you know why this is so important?


The natural oils in your hair help protect it against the harsh chemicals of the hair dyes or bleach.

Also, that grease helps the hair dye take properly.

 Remember, your hair should be “dirty” for at most two days. In other words, you can't get a good highlighting job if it’s dirtier than that. 


If you usually use styling products, such as styling cream or moisturizing serum, don't worry. There's no need to rinse them out.

Bleach powder and hair dyes are alkaline products with similar procedures. They open the cuticle and deposit the color in the hair even if you applied styling products a few days before.


Professional highlights in the salon

If your idea is to visit a hairdresser, your hair should be as dirty as if you were having your highlights done at home. In other words, stop washing your hair two days before visiting the salon.


If you visit a  professional hairdresser for your highlights, avoid washing your hair before.  As I mentioned before, the natural oils in your hair will protect your hair from harsh chemicals like a shield.


Trusting a hairdresser isn’t only the right decision, but it’ll also mean the success of your highlights.

Salons have all the necessary elements to make you look stunning. Besides, if you're not an expert, you won’t get the desired results with such a complex technique.

While it may be expensive to visit a professional hairdresser, it’ll be worth the result.


Other tricks you can apply before you get highlights

Moisturizing Shock

Now that you know how dirty your hair needs to be for highlights, you should consider other conditions before getting your highlights done.


Before a coloring process, whether you do it yourself or go to the salon, you should give your hair a moisture shock.

What is a moisture shock?


It prevents your hair from drying excessively after the highlights.

Hair dye chemicals are harsh and dehydrate the hair. However, if your hair is prepared beforehand for them, the risks can be minimized.

It’s like the difference between going to the gym having drunk enough water or being thirsty. Can you imagine how you would end up in either case?

Your hair is the same. It needs hydration before any chemical process.


 The best way to prepare hair for highlights is by applying moisturizing masks.  There are so many options to choose from on the market!

But if you can afford it, get one that contains hyaluronic acid. This is the quintessential component that will help retain moisture in your hair.


Once you buy the mask, apply it twice a week. If possible,  start this treatment at least 15 days before doing your hair highlights. 

This way, you make sure your hair is prepared for the new coloring process.


The haircut

cut ends before dyeing

Another thing to do before getting highlights is to trim your hair.

 Although people usually get a haircut after the coloring or highlighting job, you should do the opposite. 


Of course, trimming your hair after the coloring process won’t do any damage. I think it’s just a habit.


It's often said that it's better to cut your hair after coloring or highlighting if the ends dry out. However, this is not really true. If your hair is ready for highlights, you have nothing to worry about.


However, if you already have porous or split ends, imagine what they will look like after applying harsh chemicals!

I'm sure they will be even worse.


So, with this in mind, isn't it better to cut your hair before getting your highlights?

Make the most of it and get a complete makeover. That way, you won't waste the hair dye or bleach if you trim it later.


Conclusion: successful highlights depend on hair preparation

In this article, we've seen that you should stop washing your hair two days before getting highlights.

I also mentioned other tricks: moisturizing shock and haircutting.


As you know, getting amazing highlights doesn't only depend on the professional hairdresser or your own ability to do them.

While getting highlights on dirty hair helps, you also need to apply the tips I've recommended. That way, it’ll be perfect!

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