Can I dye my hair 12 hours after washing it? A hair colorist tells you the truth

wash the hair after 12 hours of dyeing it

  • Yes, you can dye your hair 12 hours after washing it.
  • Now, if you have a sensitive scalp or your hair is weak and prone to breaking, it’s better to wait 48 hours to use the dye because the chemicals in the dye can cause irritation to your scalp and damage your hair even more.
  • And if you are planning to use a semi-permanent dye on your hair, it’s best to use the dye on recently washed hair. And I’ll tell you why soon.


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Can you guess why I mentioned I’m a real hair colorist here to tell you the whole truth of the matter?

Because these days there’s a lot of sketchy information out there online.


And all that conflicting information can give you more questions than answers.

And I’m guess that one of those questions is  if you can dye your hair 12 hours after washing it. 


Hmm, let’s play a game, dear readers.

  • Raise your hand if you think that dye works better on dirty hair. Okay, got it, you can put your hands down.
  • Now, raise your hand if you think you can use dye on recently washed hair. Noted. Hands down.
  • Raise your hand if you think that you can wash your hair 48 hours after washing it.
  • Now, raise your hand if you think you can wash your hair 12 hours after washing it.


Drum roll, please. The winners are…


Everyone whose hand went up is a winner because all of those answers are correct.

Want to know why?


  •  If you raised your hand because you think that you should use dye on dirty hair or 48 hours after washing it , you’re right.
  •  But, you’re also right if you think it’s correct to dye recently washed hair or hair that was washed 12 hours ago. 


And I haven’t gone crazy.

Everyone is right, but there are some rules around this. And that’s why I decided to go into depth about each of those guidelines today.


So that way, you can know for sure if you should dye your hair 12 hours after washing it, instead of listening to the guesswork of internet searches or your friend’s friend’s friend.

Ready to get into it?

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If your hair is damaged or you have a sensitive scalp, don’t dye your hair 12 hours after washing it

wait 12 hours to color damaged hair

Because permanent dye is used with developer and contains ammonia.

  •  And if you have a sensitive scalp , the dye can cause irritation or an allergic reaction.
  •  And if your hair is weak , the dye will make it drier and more prone to breaking.

So, in this case, it’s best not to wash your hair for at least 48 hours or even 72 hours before using the dye.



Because the human body is a perfect, marvelous machine. And during those 48 hours, your scalp will produce sebum, natural oils that will protect it.

And those natural oils will also protect your damaged hair.


Now, of course, this is a recommendation.

What do I mean by that?

 That if your hair is damaged and you washed it 12 hours ago, you can dye it. But you’ll be taking the risk that the chemicals in the dye will damage it even more. 


What I want to say is that we all have free will. And you’ll need to face the consequences if you decide to dye your hair, ignoring these recommendations. Keep that in mind, because if you dye your hair and your scalp itches, you’re dealing with irritation.


On the other hand, if you don’t have a sensitive scalp and your hair isn’t damaged, you can use the dye even if you washed your hair 12 hours ago, no problem.

Because these days most color kits come with pre- and post- color treatments that minimize the corrosive effect of the chemicals in the dye.


Now, do you remember when I told you about those guidelines?

Well, in this case, we haven’t talked about another exception yet.


If you’re going to dye your hair with semi-permanent dye, you should have recently washed your hair

freshly washed dyed hair

Yes,  you should wash your hair before using semi-permanent dye. 

Even if it’s only been 12 hours since the last time you washed your hair.


 You should use semi-permanent dye on clean and dry hair , so the pigments are able to completely adhere to the outer part of your hair.

Because, unlike permanent dye, this kind of dye doesn’t open your hair cuticles and doesn’t penetrate into your hair’s medulla to change your hair color.


YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN: Should I wash my hair before dying it semi-permanent?


That’s why it fades as you wash it.

Now, why should you wash your hair again if you just washed it 12 hours ago?


Because it’s likely that during those 12 hours, some dirt from your environment has deposited in your hair. It’s also important to wash your hair before dyeing it if you used any kind of product on it, like mousse or leave-in conditioner.


If you use semi-permanent dye over residue from hair products or even on dust particles, the dye won’t stick to the outer layer of your hair.


You can dye your hair 12 hours after washing it; however, as a stylist, I recommend that if your scalp is sensitive or your hair is damaged, you wait 48 hours to use the dye.

Because that way, the sebum your scalp has produced will help prevent irritation or worse damage to your hair.

And if you’re going to use a semi-permanent dye, it’s always a good idea to wash your hair right before using the dye. That way the pigments will completely adhere to your hair.

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