I washed My Hair After Highlights. Did I ruin them? A hairdresser tells you about it

Woman with wet blond hair looks in the mirror

  • It isn’t good to wash your hair after highlights.
  • Instead, you should wait at least 72 hours for the color to set before washing your freshly highlighted hair.
  • However, if you washed your hair after highlights, you should assess it and ask your hairdresser if necessary.
  • In this article, I’ll tell you how serious it is to wash your hair 24 and 48 hours after getting highlights.
  • You’ll also find the best tips for extending the duration of the color for your highlights to look their best.


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


You’ve had highlights, washed your hair, and are afraid you’ve ruined them?


Don’t worry, everything has a solution.

When you choose to highlight your hair, it’s probably because it’s the best way to brighten up your face.

As a colorist, I can assure you that getting highlights takes time and effort.


 It requires some care to make them last like the first day you left the salon. 

Do you really know how to take care of those highlights when you leave the salon?

Do you know how long to wait between freshly done highlights and the first hair wash?


Below,  I’m going to tell you when you should wash your hair after highlights  so they don’t get ruined and last long.

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If you washed your highlights as soon as you left the salon, this is for you

Woman with highlights covers her mouth worried

If this is your case, I’m sorry to tell you that washing your hair after highlights isn’t the best decision you could have made.

Probably, by washing your hair so soon, you lost  the color that your hairdresser prepared to tone the bleached highlights. 


Your colorist tones your highlights with hair dye.

 When highlights fade, they always need to be toned down. So, the hairdresser chooses a color for you to show off that perfect highlight job. 

Did you know that the color needs a few days to settle in your hair?


Yes, you should wait at least 72 hours before washing your hair after highlights.

So if you have washed your hair and it hasn’t even been 24 hours, some of the toner may have lost pigment.


Why should I wait 72 hours to wash my hair after highlights? I explain it here

Woman dyeing her hair with highlights

When I do a highlighting job, I almost always have to bleach the hair.

In the bleaching process,  the cuticle is opened so that the old color can be removed and a new color applied. 

That cuticle remains open for approximately 72 hours, although this isn’t exact.


I always advise my clients to wait a few days to wash their hair.

And yes,  72 hours is a reasonable waiting time for the pigment to fully penetrate  and for the hair to retain the new highlight color.


Did you wash your hair too soon and want to know if the color of your highlights has faded?

That answer is yours.

I can’t see what color has been left in your highlights after that wash.

However, I can advise you to take a close look at your hair.

 Compare the tone of your washed hair to what it looked like when you left the salon   a few hours ago.


I’m sure you’ll be able to tell if there’s a difference.

If the color of your highlights is different, go back to the salon and talk to your stylist. Tell him you washed your hair too soon. They’ll know what to do to remedy the situation.

Don’t panic!


There is a solution: A new toner application will make your highlights look radiant again.  Have courage.


Did you wash your hair more than 24 hours after highlights?

Although I advise you to wait 72 hours to wash your hair after highlights it’s also suitable to allow at least 24 hours before washing your hair. 


Therefore, you should evaluate your hair and its color.  If you notice colors you don’t like or find your hair different  from when you left the salon, talk to your stylist.

A new toner application may be the solution. Don’t worry.


Did you wash your hair 48 hours after your highlights?

I would say with some certainty that your highlights won’t have any change in tone unless your hair is too porous.  Then, the color might fade faster.  As I discussed above, look at your hair and its tone. If it’s fine, go ahead with the necessary care required for highlighted hair.


If you notice a difference, talk to your stylist. One of the characteristics of porous hair is that it doesn’t dry out after washing.


What should I do from now on? 5 basic care steps for your highlights

Care for blonde or bleached hair

From now on, you’ll have to follow basic care steps to extend the duration of your highlights.


  • Shampoo: Did you know that shampoo is key in extending the duration of hair color?

That’s how important it is. Of course, if you also use specific products, it’s even better. They all work together to protect your hair.


You should use a good  shampoo free of parabens and sulfates because they contain salt and make your hair color fade much faster. 


  • Conditioner: Use a suitable conditioner after each wash. Always choose good products that enhance the action of the shampoo.


  • Mask:  Apply a nourishing or moisturizing mask to your highlighted hair every 10 days according to your hair health. 



  • If you usually use a flat iron or hair dryer, apply a heat protectant. This way, you’ll take care of the color of your strands and protect your hair from dehydration.


Your color will stay radiant in your hair longer.


Conclusion: If you had highlights and washed your hair right away, you may have ruined them. However, there is a solution

In this article, we have seen how bad it is to wash your hair after highlights.  As I said, you should evaluate how different your hair looks after washing and go to the salon to have it fixed with a new toner application if necessary.


You have also learned how to take care of your highlights to extend the duration of the color. I hope you’ll put my advice into practice.

If you do, you’ll have the most beautiful highlights in the world. I’m sure!

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