How soon can you dye over highlights?

woman with highlighted hair very anxious begs for speed

  • If your hair is in good condition, you can dye over your highlights after a week. And I’ll tell you why you should wait that week below.
  • If you can’t wait a week to dye over your highlights, you can use a semi-permanent dye.


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What happens if you box dye over highlights? Nothing good, and I’ll tell you why


Now you know.  If for some reason, you’ve applied highlights and you don’t like the way they turned out, the earliest you can dye over highlights is one week. 


That’s the earliest I recommend you go from highlights to full dye in case you don’t like how they turned out.

Now, before I delve into why you should wait at least a week to dye over your highlights, let me ask you a question:

Why do you want to dye over your highlights so quickly?


Were you unhappy with the colorist’s work? Did you want your highlights to be lighter or darker?


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If you answer yes to any of these questions, my professional advice after dealing with hundreds of clients who apply highlights is to go back to the salon and tell your colorist what’s going on with your highlights.

Because as a professional, I am sure they will find a solution without compromising the health or color of your hair.


For example, if you don’t like the highlights because they’re too light, your colorist may be able to bring down some numbers with a darker dye. But I want to warn you. Your colorist will also give you an appointment to apply the dye a week after the highlights.

Why a week? Here’s why.


Why the earliest you can dye over highlights is one week

colorist applies highlights in salon

Because to do your highlights, you went through a bleach, which is applied with 30-volume developer and bleach powder.

 If you apply a permanent dye on the highlights without waiting a week , your hair will go through another chemical process. The dye mixture contains 20-volume developer and ammonia.

In other words, if you don’t wait a week to color over your highlights, your hair will be affected by the action of 50 volumes of developer and huge amounts of ammonia.   This can irreversibly damage your hair. 


Also, remember that your hair is getting used to the process the first few days after getting highlights. The inner layer of your hair is still absorbing the color, and the outer layer, the hair cuticles, are still open.

That’s why  the earliest you can dye over your highlights is seven days.  Because:

  • It takes three days for hair cuticles to close completely.
  • It takes two days for your hair to absorb all the color.
  • It takes two days for your hair to regain some of the moisture it lost during bleaching.


This is why it’s vital you wait at least a week to dye over highlights with a box dye.


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What options you have if you can’t wait a week to dye over highlights

Clairol Semi-Permanent Tint Over Highlights

 Your only option is to use a semi-permanent dye . These don’t contain ammonia, and you don’t apply them with developer. Therefore, you won’t be running the risk of damaging your hair irreversibly.


This type of hair dye is recommended for damaged, dry, and brittle hair. In addition, the range of colors is very wide. You can find anything from fantasy tones to more traditional ones.

If you had your highlights done yesterday and can’t stand the color, you could apply a semi-permanent hair dye today. Most semi-permanent hair color brands use formulas enriched with moisturizing agents, such as natural oils or keratin.



If you want to dye over highlights, the earliest you can apply a permanent dye is one week. And if you can’t wait a week, my professional advice is to use a semi-permanent dye. Choose a color that is two numbers less than the color of your highlights.

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