How to pretreat gray hair before coloring it: 3 professional secrets

dyed tips

There are three simple things that you can do to pretreat gray hair before you dye it:

  • Apply coconut oil to it
  • Don’t wash your hair for 48 hours before you dye it
  • Use a hydrating mask

Why should you protect gray hair when you color it?


That’s the same question that Sarah asked me when she came to my salon with her gray hair that had clearly been mistreated.

Can you believe that Sarah thought that gray hair was dead hair, so it didn’t need to be cared for?


There’s nothing further from the truth!

The reality is pretty much the opposite of what she thought. Gray hair is definitely alive, but its quality of life is worse than normal hair, which is why it’s drier, more prone to breaking and can even seem lifeless.


 So, that’s why you need to take even better care of your gray hair than you ever did your hair before. Gray hair is just like the rest of your hair, except that the melanin-producing cells, called melanocytes, which give your hair color, are worn out so they’ve stopped producing melanin. 

That’s why they can’t give your hair color anymore.

But, gray hair is as alive as any other hair, and that’s why it needs as much moisture as we can give it.


Sarah had been dyeing her hair for a long time, ever since she first started getting gray hair.

We’ve got to be honest with ourselves, ladies. There are a few things in life that we can’t escape from: taxes, wrinkles and gray hair.


The first time I took a look at Sarah’s hair, I noticed it was very dry, so dry I thought it might break at my touch.

When I asked her what her dye-routine was, her answer literally left me speechless.


She told me that she just mixed the ingredients in the kit and put them on her hair.

What?! What made her think that was okay?

  • Didn’t she know that dyes contain peroxide and ammonia, are two chemicals that dry out hair?
  • Didn’t she know that you have to hydrate and protect your hair before dyeing it, whether it’s gray or not?


That’s the most basic step to protecting your hair.

 It doesn’t matter if you use the best dye out there to cover your gray hair. You still need to protect it from the dye’s effects. 


So, that day, Sarah went home with very specific instructions in hand, telling her everything she needed to do before dyeing her hair again.

And that’s what I’m going to tell you, too, because I think there are a lot of Sarahs out there who treat their gray hair like dead hair that doesn’t need any care.

So, are you worried about your gray hair’s health?


If your answer is “yes,” then keep reading because I’m going to tell you the three best ways to pretreat gray hair before you dye it.

So, push up your sleeves and get to work, because your gray hair still needs your attention, just like it did when it was younger.


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3 secrets for pretreating gray hair before you dye it

Gray hair is a lot more delicate than not-gray hair, so you should always take a little extra time to take care of it before you dye it.

Any little extra steps you can take won’t be too much.

What to know why?


  • Because, unfortunately, you’re probably going to need to touch up your color every three weeks to be able to hide your hair’s growth at your roots.

Your gray hair is always going to re-emerge no matter what, because your hair will keep growing, even if it doesn’t have color.


  • Permanent dyes contain ammonia and peroxide which dry out your hair, especially when you use those chemicals often.

That’s why there are a few products you can use and steps you can take to help protect your gray hair from the dye’s aggressivity.

Let’s start with a product that in my opinion deserves a monument in its name.

Do you know which one I’m talking about?


Let me give you a few clues.

It’s more or less white in color. It can change from a solid to a liquid from exposure to heat. We associate it with a fruit that’s interior has a very similar flavor to almond.

Did you guess it?


Exactly! I’m talking about coconut oil!

You can use it to nurture the dry parts of your skin, like your knees and elbows.

Some people even like it in their salads.

But in this case, it’s going to help you moisturize your gray hair.

Want to know how you should use it?


That’s what I’m going to tell you that right now!


Using coconut oil to protect gray hair from dye

does not change the color of dyed hair

It’s so easy you could probably do it with your eyes closed.

I’d recommend that you use a good, organic coconut oil, because after all, your gray hair deserves it.


When you buy coconut oil, you’ll see that it’s solid in consistency. To use it, you should put a few spoons into a bowl and heat it in water bath. You also can just take it between the palms of your hands and rub back and forth until it melts.


  • Apply a few drops to your entire head, leaving a few centimeters between your roots and where you start to apply it.
  • When you’ve finished applying it, wrap your hair in a shower cap, which will intensify the coconut oil’s effects and will also help to make sure you don’t stain your pillowcase with oil.
  • Leave it in all night.
  • The next morning, rinse your hair with lukewarm water so the dye doesn’t just slip over your oily hair.
  • Then you can dry your hair with a blow dryer or just wait until it air dries, then you’ll be ready to use the dye.

What will you accomplish by doing this?


 Your hair will be protected throughout the whole process of dyeing it since the oil creates a protective film over your hair fibers so the process doesn’t damage them. 

You can use coconut oil every time you dye your hair and you’ll soon see how your hair starts to feel better hydrated and healthier.

Do you wash your hair before you dye it?


From this moment onward, that is completely and totally prohibited.

Why? Because our own bodies are a like perfect machine. And in their infinite wisdom, our scalps produce their own natural oils that serve as protective barriers against the chemicals in hair dyes.


Don’t wash your gray hair before you dye it

chemicals and gummy hair

Tell me the truth, have you ever gone a few days without washing your hair?

What did you notice?

You probably noticed that your hair got sticky, oily and heavy.

Do you know why that happens?


Because your scalp is skin and like the rest of the skin on your body, it sweats. And when you sweat, your body forms oils and fats which you can use to protect your hair during the chemical coloring process.

Don’t be afraid. I’m not asking you to skip washing your hair for ten days or something crazy like that. All you have to do is this:

  • Stop washing your hair 48 hours before you dye it, since the natural oils in your hair won’t affect the chemical process of dyeing your hair.
  • Use the dye on your unwashed hair the same way you always do. The only thing that will be different this time is that the chemicals in the dye won’t damage your gray hair.


 If you pretreat your hair this way every single time you touch up your dye, you won’t need to worry about the damage that your hair might suffer from dyeing it, since it will be protected by the natural oils in your hair.  


And for ladies that might be more meticulous, I have one more alterative that you can use to treat your gray hair before your dye it.

The secret comes like a genie in a lamp, but instead of a little lamp, it’s a small, but powerful mask.


Hydrating mask to protect your gray hair from dye

argan oil

Hydrating masks are an excellent tool for pre and post color treatments.

You can choose your favorite one: keratin, hydrating, moisturizing, for dry hair or for dyed hair.


 You should use it three days before you dye your hair. Yes, you might need to use your calendar or phone alarm to make sure you don’t forget.  


  • Use the mask on damp hair, starting at your roots and applying all the way to your ends.
  • Let sit for 20 minutes and then rinse well without using either shampoo or conditioner.
  • After that process, wait three days and then you can use the dye. If you dye your hair before three days have gone by, the chemicals in the dye process might eliminate the leftovers from the mask that your hair still hasn’t been able to absorb and it would be like you never used the mask in the first place.

You can also try this as a post-color mask, using it on your hair two or three washes after you’ve dyed your hair.


Now you know that your gray hair needs to be well-taken-care-of and you don’t even need to spend a fortune to do it.

Tell me, which of the three methods will you try on your gray hair the next time your color it? Coconut oil, skipping a wash before you dye or a hydrating mask?


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