Should you apply semi-permanent dye to wet or dry hair? How does it work best?

  • Semi-permanent dye can be applied to both wet and dry hair, depending on the brand you choose.
  • The most important thing is that your hair is completely clean and freshly washed before you start coloring it. That way, the pigments in the dye will adhere completely to the hair fiber.
  • Today, I’m going to tell you which brands of semi-permanent hair color can be applied to dry hair, and which ones to wet hair.



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There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and it applies to semi-permanent dyes. Why?

 Even the biggest brands can’t agree on whether it’s better to apply the dye to wet or dry hair. 

So, how will you know how to proceed in your case?


It’s very easy. First, you need to choose the brand of semi-permanent hair color. Then, you’ll know if you can apply it on your wet or dry hair.

Some brands recommend coloring when it’s dry. Others advise it’s wet, and Punky Color, for example, leaves it entirely up to you.


 However, there’s one thing most manufacturers agree on your hair should be completely clean. That means you should wash it just before you dye it. 

In this way, the semi-permanent dye will adhere to the hair fiber forming a color film.

If your hair isn’t freshly washed, the dye can stick to the grease and dirt in your hair fiber. Then, when you rinse it out, you’ll lose all the pigment.

In other words, your hair won’t take on semi-permanent color properly.
Do you want to look your best?


Then, stick with me, because I’ll tell you:

  • Why you should pre-wash your hair before applying semi-permanent dye
  • Simple application of the dye: dry or wet hair according to each brand

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Why you should pre-wash your hair before applying semi-permanent dye


Before applying the semi-permanent dye, you must wash your hair with a shampoo that cleanses your hair fiber well. That’s actually the secret to semi-permanent hair color’s success. Why?


Semi-permanent hair dye doesn’t contain ammonia or peroxide. Therefore, there’s no chemical reaction that allows the peroxide to open the cuticles for the pigment to penetrate the hair fiber, permanently changing the hair’s structure.

Therefore, the pigment is deposited on the hair fiber and adheres to it. If you don’t wash your hair before applying it, the pigment will be deposited on the grease and dirt of your hair fiber. Then, in just two washes, the color will disappear.

What kind of shampoo should you use to wash your hair before applying hair dye?


My advice is to use a ph-balanced shampoo (it contains a large number of sulfates) or a clarifying shampoo. That will clean your hair thoroughly.

However, you should only shampoo your hair. That means: avoid using a conditioner or any kind of mask afterward because those products contain oils that will only make your hair dirty again.


Now that you know how to wash your hair to apply the semi-permanent dye, it’s time to choose the brand. Then, you’ll know if you should apply it to wet or dry hair.


Applying semi-permanent hair dye: wet or dry hair depending on the brand

Some of the most popular brands of semi-permanent dyes are Manic Panic, Arctic Fox, and Punky Colour.

Each of them recommends different techniques for the application of the dye. Let’s analyze each of them in-depth.


  • Manic Panic: semi-permanent dye for wet hair.

various light and dark shades

After washing your hair, remove excess water with a towel, but  don’t use a hairdryer to dry your hair. 

Always apply the dye from roots to ends, leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes, and finally rinse with plenty of warm water, without using shampoo or conditioner.


  • Arctic Fox: semi-permanent hair color for dry hair.

peroxide and ammonia free

Once you finish washing your hair with neutral shampoo, you should dry your hair with a hairdryer at medium temperature.

Applying hair dye on warm hair can irritate your scalp. To avoid that, when your hair cools, apply the dye from the roots to the ends and leave it on for 20-30 minutes.

After that, rinse your hair without shampooing or conditioning.


  • Punky Colour: semi-permanent dye for dry or wet hair.

semi permanent color

Do you know why this brand lets you choose to apply the dye on dry or wet hair?

Because that will determine the intensity you are looking for in the color.

  • If you want a more intense and strong color, you should apply it on dry hair. That is ideal for colors such as blue, violet, and fuchsia.
  • If you want a softer color, apply it to wet hair. That is great for pastel colors such as pink, green, or light blue.


Once you apply it, either on wet or dry hair, you must leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes for the pigment to settle properly. After the indicated time, rinse your hair without using shampoo or conditioner.



The decision to apply semi-permanent dye on wet or dry hair always depends on the brand you choose.

Some of these hair dyes are for wet hair and others are for dry hair.


If you want to control the intensity of the color, choose a brand like Punky Colour. In this case, if you want a more intense color, you should apply the color on dry hair. Conversely, if you’re looking for a pastel color, you should apply it on wet hair.

Most importantly, always wash your hair with a neutral shampoo to remove completely dirt and oils before applying the dye.

Now tell me, does the color you’ve chosen have to be applied to wet or dry hair?

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