Should You Cut or Color Short Hair First? Dye it first and then cut it, here’s why

Haircut and dye order on short hair

  • If you’re going to make a radical color change in your short hair, it’s always a good idea to dye it first and then cut it.
  • Because for a radical color change, you’ll have to bleach your hair first, and your hair will be damaged. So when you cut your hair you can remove the damaged parts so it looks better.
  • If your short hair is healthy and you just want to keep the same style, you can cut your hair first and then apply the dye.


At least, that’s my professional opinion.

Of course, each short haircut is different and each hairdresser manages that cut however they want.

What do I mean by this?


Some professionals prefer not to waste supplies.

And that’s why they cut hair first. You can imagine it’s not the same to dye short hair as it is to dye hair that reaches your waist.

Obviously, short hair uses less dye.


Personally, on short hair, I prefer to look at the dye’s results before I cut it. Because if you cut the hair first and then the dyeing goes wrong, it will be much more difficult to fix because a lot of hair was already lost in the haircut.

But if the haircut goes wrong, you can fix it by styling it differently or even disguising it with dye.


It will also depend on what you want to achieve in your short hair with the color and cut. And that’s what we’ll delve into below.


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When to cut short hair before coloring

Haircut and color on short hair

You already know what I think. In my opinion, you should always apply the color first and then cut the hair.

But there are some exceptions when it’s not necessary to respect that order.

What are they?


  •  When there’s little difference between the new color you want and your current color , you can cut your hair first and then apply the color. Because you don’t need to bleach your hair.
  •  When your short hair is healthy , it’s not likely to get damaged after you dye it.
  •  When you want to keep the same haircut , there won’t be any difference in style before or after dyeing.

Why is it that in these cases, you can first cut your hair short and then apply the new color?


It’s because the haircut will give strength to your hair fibers. The dye will also penetrate and fix better inside the hair. Therefore, your new color will last longer.

And here’s another reason. Once you see how the cut turns out, you can choose different coloring techniques that look fantastic on short hair.

For example, localized highlights, mid-lengths, or framing your face. Even if your hair is so short it just reaches to the back of your neck, you can bleach the ends of your hair to create more depth.

What’s the main benefit of cutting your hair short before coloring it? You can choose the new color based on what you want to highlight with that cut.

For example:

  • You can cut your hair short first and then dye your fringe in lighter colors.
  • You can go for a pixie cut if you have an oval-shaped face and then choose some localized highlights to give the cut more volume.


When to cut short hair after coloring

bleached short hair after haircut

 If your change of look is going to be radical, I recommend you cut your hair after you dye it. 


Because obviously you’ll have to bleach your hair, and with the haircut, you can remove dry and damaged hair and get rid of split ends.

So I recommend you cut your hair after coloring it in the following cases:

  •  When you bleach your short hair , either all of your hair or just certain sections for highlights.
  •  When you make a radical color change , for example, if you’re going black after being blonde.
  •  When your hair is damaged already before you dye it , because after dyeing your short hair it will be even drier. So the haircut will allow you to remove the damaged parts after dyeing.


All these recommendations are just starting points. That is to say, they’re just a guide you can follow to know if you should first cut or color your short hair.


For example, some of my clients come to my salon with the idea of cutting their hair short first and then changing the color. But after evaluating their hair, I decide to change the order. Otherwise, they won’t get the results they were looking for.

A lot of people’s hair can’t handle bleaching, and that’s even more so with short hair. Because if your hair is damaged during bleaching, you should always have a safety margin to be able to trim the damaged part afterward.

But in short hair, the margin for error shrinks considerably. That’s why in these instances it’s always best to apply the color before cutting the hair. That way you can see how the hair reacts to a process as aggressive as bleaching.


Let’s look at another example.

Let’s say you use a hair straightener regularly and your ends feel dry. You decide to go to the hairdresser’s to change your color and remove the ends.

The stylist cuts off all your damaged hair and applies the color. Then when they rinse the dye out, they notice it has dried out even more parts of your hair than what was already damaged.

What do you think will happen?


You’ll have to cut your hair again. And on short hair, two or three centimeters less makes a huge difference.



Cutting and coloring short hair is a challenge because there is almost no margin for error. That’s why, as a professional, when I’m working on short hair, I prefer to apply the color first and then cut the hair.

Cutting short hair requires a lot of experience. So I recommend you look for a stylist who has plenty of experience and can decide what is best for your short hair.

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