How long do I leave the BOX hair dye in my hair? It depends on the color

woman thinking

  • The darker box hair dyes, which are black 1, dark brown 3, and chestnut, are left in the hair for thirty minutes.
  • The medium-colored dyes, namely light brown 5, dark blonde 6, and blonde 7, are left on for 40 to 45 minutes.
  • The light-colored dyes, blonde 8 and very light blonde 9, are left on for 45 to 60 minutes according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • My advice is to read the instructions. Some dyes work with stronger or more intense pigments, which act faster on the hair.


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How long does it take to box dye hair? Between and hour and an hour and a half


A key topic here is   how long to leave box dye in the hair.  

Everyone talks about it, but few people know about it.


One of the first things we learn in hairdressing school is that, apart from the dye brand we use to change the client’s hair color, you need to consider the color you’ll choose.


  Dark and light colors have different exposure times.   But we’ll go into this topic in more detail later.

Also, before you start coloring your hair, you need to calculate correctly correctly the box dye kits you’ll need to get an even color.


Now, I want to emphasize the brands.

In hairdressing school, we are also taught not to ignore the recommendations made by the manufacturers of the products we use. And hair dyes are no exception.

If we take into account the instructions of the manufacturers of box dyes, we’ll see that   some brands recommend leaving the dye for 30 minutes and others recommend 60 minutes.   Of course, the difference between 30 and 60 minutes is very big.


Apart from that, all brands agree on one very important point: you should never leave the dye in for less than thirty minutes or more than sixty minutes.

  If you leave it for less than thirty minutes, the dye won’t change the color of your hair.   If you leave it longer than sixty minutes, you’ll damage your hair.


Each brand will recommend a different exposure time.

L’ORÉAL for example, indicates that the exposure time is 45 minutes while CLAIROL indicates that the exposure time is 60 minutes.
So,   when you buy your dye box, the first thing you need to do is read the manufacturer’s instructions,   especially the part where they talk about exposure times.

Once you know what the manufacturer recommends about timings, you can play with those times according to the color you apply.


  Dark-colored dyes set faster on the hair than light-colored ones.  

But remember to always start with the exposure time recommended by the dye brand you have chosen.


By the way, while we’re on the subject of box dyes, I want to make something very clear: hairdressers don’t hate box dyes.

That’s a myth. Most professionals think that   coloring kits are an interesting alternative if used correctly.  

They also let you choose the color according to your facial features.


Why you should never leave the box dye on for less than thirty minutes

box hair dye brands

Coloring isn’t a magical process. The color doesn’t change like in a magic trick.

  Instead, the dye needs time to act   to modify the hair color.

Have you ever thought about the work of the color molecules in the dye?


I can assure you that they work hard. To change the color of your hair, they go through three layers.

  • Outer part or cuticles: this layer protects the hair fiber and makes your hair shiny and soft.   It’s the first layer that the box dye has to go through when you apply it.  
  • Middle part or hair fiber: it defines whether your hair is straight or curly. It also retains the moisture and nourishment of the hair. Of course, the hair dye must also pass through it.
  • Inner part or core: this is where the color molecules of the dye come to stay after a long journey.


Therefore, when you apply the box dye, the color molecules will go through the cuticles, penetrate the hair fiber, and lodge in the core.

This doesn’t happen in a few minutes.   The coloring process needs at least 30 minutes to achieve an even and long-lasting color.  


So, we already established that you should always leave the box dye on for a minimum of thirty minutes. What’s the maximum time? How is it determined?

The maximum time you should leave the box dye to act will be determined by the color you choose. I’ll talk about it below.

The dark colors of box dyes need thirty minutes on the hair

Dark hair

  The dark pigments of box dyes take less time to reach the core and settle   because their color molecules are smaller. Therefore, they penetrate faster.

Therefore, thirty minutes after applying the dye all over your hair, you can rinse it out.

What are the dark colors of the hair dye boxes?

  • Black 1
  • Dark brown 3
  • Brown 4

Remember, even though dark-colored dyes work faster than light-colored dyes, you shouldn’t rinse them out before thirty minutes.


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Medium box dye colors are left for at least 40 to 45 minutes

These dye colors are the most commonly used by women who dye their hair at home.

What are they?

  • Light brown 5
  • Dark blonde 6
  • Blonde 7


I recommend you carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions and respect the times indicated.

  • If it recommends leaving the dye on for 45 minutes,   you can rinse it off after 40 minutes.  
  • If he recommends you leave it on for 60 minutes,   you can rinse it off after 45 minutes.  

Keep in mind that these colors reach the core quickly, but take longer to set.


Box dyes light colors are left to act for the exact time indicated by the manufacturer

light hair dye

Light hair dye colors are a very different story. As they must cover a previous color in the hair, they must be left to act for the maximum time indicated by the manufacturer.

This means:

  • If the brand of box dye you purchased recommends 45 minutes,   you should rinse it out after 45 minutes.  
  • If the dye brand recommends 60 minutes,   you should leave it on for 60 minutes.  


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If your hair color is darker than the color you want to apply, you should leave it on for the maximum time indicated by the manufacturer.

If your hair is extra light blonde and you want to go down a few levels, you should also leave it on for the maximum time for your core to fully absorb the new color.

What are the light colors?


  • Light blonde 8
  • Very light blonde 9

The extra light blonde and super light blonde colors can only be applied with bleach. So, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully because the light colors often increase the number of developer volumes or the exposure time.



If you color your hair at home using a hair coloring kit, you should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding exposure times.

Now you also know that you can leave the dye for more or less time than what’s indicated by the manufacturer according to the color you apply.

In all cases, the minimum exposure time of the box dye will always be thirty minutes.

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