Does hair dye get darker the longer you leave it in?

toning brassy hair at home

  • Does hair dye get darker the longer you leave it in the hair? Short answer: it depends on the hair dye you use.
  • If you use a permanent hair dye, it won’t get darker the longer you leave it in your hair. However, it could dry it out and damage it. In other words, you can leave the hair dye in as long as instructed, or you can leave it in longer. The resulting color will be the same.
  • Alternatively, if you use a temporary hair dye, the longer you leave it in, the darker your hair will be.


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As a rule, I recommend that you always leave the hair dye in according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

You should read the instructions on the box dye, especially if you’re used to changing brands.

 Generally, all dyes are applied in the same way, but waiting times may vary from one brand to another.  


Still, there are some issues to consider.

I’m going to tell you all about what can happen if you leave the hair dye in longer than indicated.


Many women use hair dyes to color their gray hair or because they want a change of look. Some decide to dye their hair in the comfort of home.

This is a great way to save a few bucks at the salon.


There’re many types of hair dyes.

Today, we’ll talk about the most used ones, which are permanent and temporary hair dyes.


Permanent hair dyes

box dye after bleaching

  • Permanent hair dyes deposit pigments deeper in the hair fiber than the temporary ones. When we prepare the permanent hair dye mixture and apply it, the cuticle opens to welcome the new color. Then, the desired shade is revealed along with potential undertones.


  • Most permanent hair dyes develop during a certain time. It is as if they magically stopped working.


  • Leaving it longer than necessary would serve no purpose because they stop lightening or darkening your hair.


  • Be careful because they will still damage your hair. Remember that permanent hair dyes are chemical products. Applying them for longer than the manufacturer’s instructions could dry out your hair.


Temporary hair dyes

coloring over uneven hair to match it

  • Temporary hair dyes act at the surface level. They deposit color in the hair cuticle. They only deposit color and activate pigments. So, they need a shorter time to develop.


  •   ]If you leave a temporary hair dye on longer than indicated, it’ll continue to darken your hair.  As I told you before, they deposit the color in the most superficial layer of the hair.


  • Be careful not to exceed the exposure time. Otherwise, your hair will be darker, because the hair dye will continue to deposit pigments.


In all cases, respect the corresponding exposure times

If you rinse the hair dye too soon, you won’t get the tone you were looking for. By shortening the exposure time, the color won’t be revealed.


Let’s look at some other usual situations

hair coloring gloves

Do you respect the times, but the hair dye still turns dark?

There’s a reason for that.

The hair dye acts and reveals the selected shade by depositing more pigment on damaged or porous hair. So, pay attention to this because you might see some parts of your hair darker.

Are you just looking for a color touch-up?

In that case, only apply the hair dye at the roots and leave it in as instructed by the manufacturer.


Avoid saturating your hair with each application.  Just ten minutes before rinsing, you should spread the remaining product to the rest of the hair and brighten the color throughout your hair. 

This is the right way to avoid pigment build-up and hair darkening.

Is your problem gray hair?

Remember that gray hair won’t get darker or more covered by leaving the hair dye in your hair longer. In fact, if you leave it on longer than indicated, you’ll only ruin and dry out your hair.


Extra tips

  • When you color your hair, take your time. Take it as a ritual to look more beautiful.
  • If you find it hard to respect the exposure times, use a clock or an alarm to remind you when to rinse it out.
  • Remember the difference between the two hair dyes we talked about earlier and what could happen if you overdo it.
  • Temporary and permanent hair dyes have different exposure times and act differently.
  • Never forget to read the manufacturer’s instructions.

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