How long should I wait to wash my hair after highlights?

touching up roots of highlighted hair

  • You should wait for 72 hours to wash your hair after highlights.
  • That’s how long it takes for the cuticles to seal and trap the pigments.
  • If you wash your highlighted hair before 72 hours, the color highlights will disappear.
  • You should also use a sulfate-free shampoo and a violet shampoo to protect the color. Later on, I’ll give you other recommendations to take care of your highlights.


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Have you ever seen a cartoon that drops its jaw to the floor in the face of an unexpected event?

I think I became that cartoon for a few moments today. Do you want me to tell you why?


I was astonished when I saw Malena at the salon today. I had highlighted her hair 24 hours before.

Why was I surprised by her visit?


Because Malena arrived so angry that she looked like part of Attila’s army of Huns. The reason?


Her highlights were gone. At least, most of them.

And there was no need for me to ask her anything. I knew what had happened.  Malena had washed her hair without following my warning: don’t wash your hair for 72 hours. 


However, she ignored my instructions and washed her hair.

Then, good-bye highlights! But, what happens to the clients?


 If your stylist recommends not washing your hair for 72 hours after spending a good amount of money on highlights, why is that the first thing you do when you get home? 


Evidently, because you didn’t hear your stylist’s care instructions.

Sure, that’s what I thought. Of course, I didn’t say that to Malena.

I didn’t need to make wood from the fallen tree.


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At that moment, Malena needed my understanding, and I needed more patience than a sweet grandma storyteller has.

In short, all the highlights work had been lost. Malena hadn’t given enough time to the color pigments to penetrate into the deeper layers of her hair.


So, now that we’ve stated that you should wait 72 hours to wash your hair after highlights, let’s move on to another key factor.

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How to wash highlighted hair after 72 hours

shampoo wears out hair color

By now, you know that your stylist bleached sections of your hair. Then, she applied a toner or hair dye to achieve highlights.

It’ll take 72 hours for your hair to absorb the pigments.

 If you wash it before, your highlights will look dull, and the color will be washed out. 


After 72 hours, you’ll have to wash it for the first time. And you no longer have to be afraid because nothing bad will happen to your highlights.


Nothing bad will happen to them as long as you use a sulfate-free shampoo. That’s very important!

shampoo to wash hair with highlights

Sulfate-free shampoos don’t contain detergents, which are corrosive to the color. Also, you can find some inexpensive brands on the market because they’re popular products nowadays.

 If you want your highlights to last longer, replace your usual shampoo. If you were using one with sulfates, replace it with a sulfate-free one. 


How can you tell that a shampoo is sulfate-free?

By looking at the label. There should be no phrases like “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate,” or “Sodium Laureth Sulfate”. An extra tip: read both the back label and the front label.

I’m already imagining your question.


Can I wash my highlighted hair every day if I use a sulfate-free shampoo?

The answer is no. You shouldn’t wash your highlighted hair every day, even if you use a sulfate-free shampoo. 

To keep your hair clean, you don’t need to wash it every day. Also, because you’ll dry out your hair by eliminating the sebum that your scalp produces to moisturize your hair.


 So, ideally, you should wash your highlighted hair every two or three days. 

Also, you should have another product in your bathroom.


Once a week, wash your hair with a purple shampoo.

no yellow fanola

This shampoo deposits violet pigments in your highlights to keep them as ashy as the day you left the salon. But don’t overdo it.


 If  you wash your highlights every day with violet shampoo, you’ll end up with violet tones. 

My advice is that you start using it once a week, but only 15 days after you got your highlights.

One last piece of advice?


Don’t abuse heat tools on your colored hair. High temperatures also fade the pigments of the highlights.



Do you want to know what happened to Malena and her faded highlights?


Well, she obviously acknowledged her responsibility.

After all, she had washed her hair without waiting for 72 hours for the pigments to settle.

So, even though she arrived as an Attila’s Hun, she was transformed into an angelic being who asked me for a new appointment at the salon to get her highlights done.


If you don’t want to suffer the same fate as Malena, take care of your highlights. The best way to do this is to not wash your hair for 72 hours after getting them. Also, use a sulfate-free shampoo every time you wash your hair.

You should also add violet shampoo into your hair care routine by using it once a week.

This way, you won’t have to touch up your highlights too often.

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