How long to wait to wash hair after semi-permanent color?

toning yellow hair

  • After semi-permanent color, you should wait at least three days to wash your hair. Also, you should use a sulfate-free shampoo.
  • This will allow the color to fully adhere to the outside of your hair like a protective film.
  • After semi-permanent color, rinse your hair with plenty of warm to cold water and don’t shampoo it.


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I know that, right off the bat, having to wait three days to wash your newly colored hair with semi-permanent hair dye may seem like a long time.

However, as with all things in life, it’ll seem like a long time or a short time according to the benefits it may entail.


Let’s look at the big picture.

If it’s been two days since you applied a semi-permanent hair dye, you can’t wait to see your hair clean. And you can only do that by washing it.

So, here’s the situation. You feel frustrated. In the end, it seems that to show off your new color, you have to pay a high price.


But is it really too high a price?


Well, before you make a hasty decision, let me tell you the stories of two of my clients with shared love. And I don’t mean the love of a man.

I’m talking about a passion for bubblegum pink hair.

When you know the whole story, you’ll be able to make the best decision.


Maria and Eugenia are two friends who have known each other for many years. They decided to celebrate their friendship’s anniversary by dyeing their hair pink.

They both chose a bubblegum pink that looked fantastic on them.


 During the application of the hair dye, I told them about the care they should take, especially when washing their hair. 

As you know, and they also did, the semi-permanent hair dye fades with washes.



Unlike permanent hair dyes, they don’t deposit inside the hair to change the color.

Instead, semi-permanent hair dye is actually a kind of pigment film that covers the hair surface. This is why the color film disappears with each wash.


Going back to the story of our two friends, I gave them two precise instructions:

  • Don’t wash your hair for three days
  • Use sulfate-free shampoo from the first wash


Believe me, I understand why people get excited about a change of look.

And in the case of these two friends, I understand the excitement even more. They shared the joy of the hair color change and the celebration of a new anniversary of their friendship.


I only asked them to pay attention to two simple things:  don’t wash the newly semi-permanent hair color for at least seventy-two hours, and always use sulfate-free shampoo. 


However, it seems that their excitement blocked their memory.

Two days later, one of them returned to the salon, and not to thank me for her change of look.

She wanted to reapply the semi-permanent hair dye. Do you know why?


Because the color was completely gone. By now, you’re probably trying to guess which of the two friends came back to touch up the hair dye.

Still, focus. You need to focus on the essential aspects of the story.

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You should always wait at least 72 hours to wash your hair after coloring it with a semi-permanent hair dye

wash with sulfate-free shampoo

There are no exceptions, no excuses, and no hearts bursting with excitement.

If you want your semi-permanent hair dye to last longer, you shouldn’t wash your hair for at least the first three days.

Have you ever thought about why semi-permanent hair dye is applied to dry hair?


  • If you applied it on wet hair, the humidity would cause the hair dye to slide off. Then, the pigments wouldn’t adhere to the surface of the hair.
  • Also,  after rinsing the hair dye out, the pigments continue to work in your hair to achieve a stronger hold. If you wash your hair before three days, you interrupt that process.  Therefore, the color will fade.


You may be lucky, and it may not disappear completely.

But, chances are that after washing, you’ll get an uneven color that’s very different from the one you chose.

Now that you know this, does waiting three days still seem like a long time?


Then, you won’t make Eugenia’s mistake, one of the friends in our story. Do you remember her?

And as you’ve probably guessed, she’s the person who returned to the salon two days after coloring her hair with a semi-permanent hair dye.

But why had she washed her hair?


Because she paid more attention to the color than to my directions. So, hours after leaving the salon, she washed her hair. The friends would celebrate the change of look and, of course, their friendship.

But she was not prepared for the disaster that would occur in her shower. As she wet her hair, she saw that the water was getting pinker and pinker. The same was happening with the shampoo lather.


And as if she wasn’t desperate enough, both the towel and the collar of her white shirt were stained pink.

It was a result of not waiting three days to wash hair dyed with a semi-permanent hair dye.

But Eugenia’s mistakes didn’t end there.

And that’s what I’ll tell you about next.



How to wash your hair for the first time, and in the following washes, after semi-permanent hair color

Remember the second recommendation I made to our two friends?


 I repeat it: wash your hair with sulfate-free shampoo from the first wash. 

Sulfates are chemicals that clean the hair. That is, they remove grease, dirt, and any other element that is deposited in your mane.

But, they also remove the semi-permanent hair dye because the color is simply deposited on the outer layer of the hair.


In this case, Eugenia had used a shampoo with sulfates. Water and shampoo with sulfates are a bomb for semi-permanent hair dye.

That’s why the bubblegum pink was almost completely gone.


 Once you apply the semi-permanent hair dye, your hair beauty routine should change. 

You should discard all products containing sulfates such as shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizing masks.


I’ll tell you how to wash your hair the first time after semi-permanent hair color

This procedure should be repeated every time you wash your hair.

  • In the shower, wet your hair with lukewarm, almost cold water.
  • In the palm of your hand, apply as much sulfate-free shampoo as needed. Keep in mind that this type of shampoo doesn’t lather because it doesn’t contain sulfates. But don’t worry, it’ll still leave your hair clean and won’t remove the color in one go.
  • Start washing your hair from roots to ends by massaging it gently. Don’t rub or comb it under the water to avoid hair breakage. Remember that wet hair is weaker.
  • Rinse your hair with lukewarm to cold water, and apply a sulfate-free conditioner.



So now, tell me, do you think that not washing your hair for three days after coloring it with a semi-permanent hair dye is too high a price to pay?


Of course, it’s not.

Use those three days to get used to your new hair color, choose fun accessories that match, and look in your closet for the look that goes with your new color.

After three days, you can wash your hair. Use a sulfate-free shampoo, and you can go out and eat the world with your vibrant, bold hair color.

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