How long do you leave brown hair dye in? 30-45 minutes

woman dyes her hair brown at home

  • In order to know how long you should leave brown dye in your hair, you need to take into account the level brown you choose. There are three possibilities: dark brown 3, brown 4 and light brown 5.
  • If you use a dark brown 3, you should leave it in for your hair 30 minutes.
  • If you choose a brown 4, you should leave it in for between 30 and 45 minutes.
  • And if you choose a light brown 5, you should leave it in for 45 minutes.


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As you can see,  the darker the brown dye, the less time you should leave it in your hair. 

Because the darker brown dyes contain stronger, more intense pigments that penetrate into your hair quicker, changing your base color.


the browner the dye, the longer you should let it act

Now,  it’s also important to keep your base color in mind . Because, for example, a light brown 5 is not going to be able to cover black hair.

I’ll give you a rule for knowing if the brown dye you choose will cover your base color in a few minutes.

For now, I want to concentrate on how long you need to leave brown dye in your hair.

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The darker the brown dye, the less time you should leave it in your hair

brown dye exposure time

Like I said at the beginning of this article,  you should leave brown dye in for 30-45 minutes max.  Because that’s how long it will take for your hair to finish absorbing the dye and color.

What does that mean?


That you can’t rinse the dye before 30 minutes have gone by, because if you do, the process won’t finish and the brown will end up uneven.

And it’s also important to know if you should use shampoo to rinse the dye or not.


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And, you also shouldn’t leave it in your hair for longer than 45 minutes, because that will ruin your hair.



Once you use the brown dye on your hair, a chemical reaction starts to change the color. That chemical reaction has a start and an end.

At 45 minutes, the chemical reaction that changes your hair color finishes. But the other chemicals, meaning the peroxide and ammonia, keep working on your hair.


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So, if you leave brown dye in your hair more than 45 minutes, your hair will be brown.

But, two very unpleasant things will happen:

  •  Your hair will be brown, but also dry, weak and prone to breaking. 
  • And that might cause your hair to break at the roots.

That’s why it’s very important to follow the amount of time indicated for brown dye.


And, depending on the level brown you choose, the minimum is 30 minutes to finish the color process, and the maximum is 45 minutes to avoid damaging your hair.

  •  If you use dark brown 3 , you should leave it in for 30 minutes.
  •  If you use brown 4 , you can leave it in for 30-45 minutes.
  •  If you use light brown 5 , you should leave it in for 45 minutes.


And you should start timing how long you leave it in when you’ve finished applying the color mixture to all of your hair.

And when you finish applying the dye, wrap your hair in a shower cap to conserve the heat of the chemical reaction and start counting the minutes.


Use an alarm clock or the alarm on your phone, and that is the exact moment you should start counting down to when you need to rinse the brown dye and get all the dye out of your hair.

And don’t get distracted. Because although five or ten minutes in a lifetime doesn’t seem like much, when it comes to chemicals in your hair, that amount of time makes a difference.


That could be the difference between a good dye job and a bad dye job. Or, the difference between healthy hair and damaged hair.

And now, the time has come to talk about something else very important.


If you want to use a brown dye, you need to take into account your base color

before applying brown dye take into account base color

Why do you want to dye your hair brown?

Let’s see, I can think of two possible reasons:

  • You got tired of maintaining your blonde hair and you think a darker color will help reduce the time you spend in the salon.
  • You think a really dark color isn’t for you.


Either one of these options are totally valid reasons for using a brown dye on your hair.


But, you need to be realistic.

  •  Because if your hair is black , you can’t use a light brown 5 dye right away. Before using the dye, you need to bleach your hair.
  • Now, what you can do is use a dark brown 3 dye on your black hair, which will give you a warmer brown color.
  • And  if you have blonde 7 or dark blonde 6 hair , you can use a light brown 5, which will darken your color without being a huge change.


So, before you use the brown dye, you need to keep in mind two big rules for coloring your hair:

  • As a hair colorist, when you want to change your hair color with a dye, I’d recommend choosing a dye that is two colors more or two colors less than your current hair color.


Because that way, you can be sure that the brown dye you’ve chosen completely covers your current color.

And, you should keep in mind that in order to  darken your hair or lower the level, if you have light hair, you can choose any color brown. 

The problem occurs when you want to lift your hair more than two levels on the color scale, because in that case, you’ll need to bleach your hair before using the dye.


For example:

  • Light brown 5 won’t cover your black hair. In that case, you should bleach or use a dark brown 3.


Lastly, if you want to use a brown dye on red or orange hair, I’d recommend going to a professional.

Because it’s likely that before using a dye, the professional suggests bleaching your hair to get rid of those pigments.

Because those colors always come back in hair that’s been dyed brown as you wash it.



You should always leave brown dye in your hair for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 45. It all depends on the color brown you choose and your base color.

You should also keep in mind that since brown is in the middle of the color scale, it’s also a great option for highlights or balayage.

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