How Dirty Should My Hair Be Before I Dye it? 4 myths debunked by a hairdresser

  • Hair doesn’t need to be very dirty or freshly washed for you to color it.
  • Washing it 48 hours before coloring it is more than enough, unless your hairdresser tells you otherwise.
  • Before coloring your hair, you should avoid styling products such as gels, sprays, or masks because they could prevent the dye from working.
  • After coloring your hair, you should wait at least 48 hours to wash it to make sure that your hair absorbs the pigments in the dye.


blonde hair

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You’re about to color your hair, but you have no idea how clean or dirty it should be!

Don’t lose any sleep over it, as it’s one of the most common doubts women face before they color their hair.


There are so many urban legends in the hairdressing world that it would take us several pages to analyze them all.

Let’s start with one because it’ll be a good starting point to debunk them.


As I told you, several women ask me about washing their hair before going to the salon.

Some come with wet hair, others with hair washed the night before, and a low percentage with quite dirty hair. So, who is right?


I’ll now explain the correct way to go to the salon and debunk some beliefs that are not entirely true.

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Myth or truth?

Let’s consider some myths about clean or dirty hair before coloring it and see what’s true about each one.


Myth #1: “Color settles better on dirty hair.”

gray hair

Many women believe that they should go to the salon with dirty hair because it’ll take the dye better.

How about we analyze this myth?


It’s not so crazy to think that it’s better to go to the salon with dirty hair because the scalp and hair, over time,release a natural oil that could protect the hair from damage. Imagine the oil amount we would have on our hair after several days!

Consider the sweat from the gym, the smoke from a barbecue with friends plus the environmental pollution…


Now, if you’re wondering if that oil could protect your hair or have any benefit for your color, the answer is none!

 Therefore, you shouldn’t go to the salon with several days’ worth of dirty hair under any circumstances. 


  • Firstly, because it doesn’t benefit coloring.
  • Secondly, and more importantly, your stylist really doesn’t have to take the blame for your beliefs and doesn’t have to put up with the smell and oiliness of your dirty hair.


Keep in mind that the scalp is a mass of dead cells. So, wash your hair!


Myth #2: “You should wash your hair 24-48 hours before you color it.”

a while after cutting it

That is true, and there are reasons for it. If you want to prepare your hair well before coloring at a salon or even if you want to dye it at home, the steps will always be the same.


 Wash your hair 24-48 hours before, as the color settles better when the hair is neither too clean nor too dirty. 


Hair must be free of products or waste. The natural oil that releases your scalp will be enough to protect the hair from a chemical process and avoid the burning or discomfort in sensitive scalp.

Avoid washing your hair a few hours before coloring it because it’ll be totally unprotected from natural oils.


Myth #3: “You don’t have to apply styling products before coloring.”

how to know if expired

That is also true. Why should you try to avoid styling products, serums, or styling gels the day before coloring?

Because they’ll form a layer between the hair and the dye that will prevent the dye from fully developing.


Myth #4: “After applying color, you can wash your hair anytime.”

shampoo and conditioner

Although your question was how to care for your hair before a coloring session, aftercare matters too!

You should wash your hair 48 hours after coloring it so that you allow the dye to settle well in the cuticle. Why should you wait at least 48 hours to wash it again?


 Because the color will integrate well with the cuticle and you’ll prevent it from washing out and oxidizing prematurely. 


You can help yourself with a special shampoo, as it’ll protect you and extend the color. Ideally, you should try to use a shampoo for color and sun protection because colored hair needs extra care.

before bleaching hair

I also advise you not to wash your hair every day. Try to space out the washings by helping yourself with some dry shampoo. Do you know what it is?

It’s a powder-spray to absorb the excess of oil from the hair. It also has a spectacular aroma and volume. Use it in-between washes.

All these tips will help you keep your color looking great.



We reviewed some of the myths that many women hold about coloring their hair, but don’t let the popular stories of the hairdressing world guide you!

Always get advice from your trusted stylist. Remember that the scientific basis will always be the best source of reference.


 So if you’re thinking of going to the salon to dye your hair, you know you don’t have to have it too dirty nor freshly washed. 

There is a saying: “going to extremes is not always good.” We’ll follow it this time.


So, remember to wash your hair 24-48 hours before coloring it. And don’t forget the other great aftercare tips to make your color last much longer. There’s no doubt that your next color will be dazzling!

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