Should I wash my oily hair before coloring? Yes, 24 hours before

Woman with long wavy hair with a gesture of doubt

  • Yes, you should wash your oily hair 24 hours before coloring.
  • You may have heard that your hair must be dirty before applying the dye.
  • However, that is a myth. If you have too much sebum in your hair before coloring, the hair color product may not penetrate your hair properly.
  • In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at why you should wash your oily hair before coloring and the best ways to do it.


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This is one of the questions I get the most in my salon.

Sometimes, a few minutes before their appointment, my clients call me asking what to do: Do I wash or not wash my hair before coloring it?

Do you wash my hair in the salon? (Yes, sometimes they sound desperate)


As I said, you should wash your oily hair 24 hours before applying any hair color.

In this article, I’ll tell you why this is so and we’ll see many other tips. Let’s go!

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If you have an oily scalp, this will interest you

disheveled girl, with greasy hair

The scalp produces a substance called sebum, which is a natural oil that keeps the hair healthy and protected.

Also, sebum helps to maintain proper hydration of the hair and scalp.

When you don’t wash your hair,   sebum builds up and causes a heavy, sticky film that looks like “dirty hair.”  


Sebum production increases in some people. In fact, the “dirty hair” feeling may appear a few hours after washing your hair.

People who produce sebum as soon as they wash their hair have an oily scalp.

Now that you know what oily hair looks like, let’s get down to business: should you wash your oily hair before coloring it?


Is it better to have dirty hair before coloring?

You may have heard that, “The dirtier your hair before coloring, the better.”

However, please stop the myths!


  To penetrate the hair strand, your hair has to go through different layers.  

If you add 7 days of sebum to that… the dye will never be able to do its job!


If your hair is too dirty, the dye has to do twice as much work to penetrate your hair.   As a result, it may not color your hair properly.  


In oily hair, those layers of sebum are produced faster, even some hours after washing.

So, again: yes, you should wash your oily hair before coloring.

But there’s a maximum time and a specific way to do it. You should also wash your oily hair before coloring it.


When and how to wash oily hair before coloring it in the salon?

Hairdresser dyes greasy hair

When hair is oily, as the hours go by, layers and layers of sebum build up on your head.

That’s why   it’s best to wash your hair 24 hours before coloring it.  


This way, the oil build-up will protect your hair and also allow a proper coloring process.

Why should my hair be a little dirty before coloring?


If your hair doesn’t have that natural protective oil, it’s more prone to allergies, irritations, and other conditions.

So: wash your oily hair one day before applying the dye. It’s not necessary to do it before!


7 tips for washing your oily hair before coloring

greasy-haired blonde girl in the bathroom

  • Wash your hair one day before coloring it.


  • Use an oily shampoo (avoid shampoos that are too creamy).

Apply the shampoo by gently massaging with your fingertips. Friction, instead, increases sebum production in the scalp.


  • After shampooing, apply a light conditioner.

It contains mint, eucalyptus, or lavender, for example.

Apply it from mid-lengths to ends.   Never put it on your scalp   because you’ll only worsen the oiliness of your hair.


  • Use lukewarm water to wash your hair and remove oil, shampoo, conditioner, and any other product residue you may have used.
  Very hot water will open the cuticle  
and damage your hair.

Conversely, cold water won’t deep clean your oily hair.


  • After washing, don’t apply styling creams, oils, or any other products. They could become a barrier and prevent the dye from penetrating your hair.


  • Try not to touch your hair: the more you touch it, the more sebum you produce.

Remember that certain bad habits can make your hair oily.


YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:  Should I wash my hair before dyeing it if it has product in it?


If I want to color my hair at home and not in a salon, should I also wash it a day before?


Yes. If you plan to color your oily hair at home with box dyes, you should wash it 24 hours before.

What’s more, if you color your oily hair at home, you should pay more attention.

In the salon, however, the hairdresser has the proper tools to correct sebum problems.    


It’s not the same at home. So, to avoid problems, follow all instructions!

Finally, remember the most common mistakes when coloring your hair at home.


What could happen if I don’t wash my oily hair the day before applying the dye?

Dirty-haired girl holds her nose

If I don’t wash my greasy hair before applying the dye, could the color be bad?


Not necessarily.

But if you haven’t washed your hair for many days, I’m guessing you’ve accumulated too much sebum.

If you add environmental pollution to that,   the dye may not be able to deposit the color at all.  


Let’s look at it this way: the dye has an action time of approximately 35 minutes.

For the first 15 minutes, it works by penetrating the hair cortex. The remaining time it deposits the color.

  If the dye has too much sebum to get through, then it may not penetrate your hair enough.  

As a result, it may not be able to deposit the color properly.


Did you know that dye is beneficial for your oily hair?

Happy girl with thumbs up

Before we finish, to top it all off, there’s a great advantage to coloring your oily hair.

Hair dye can be an ally for oily hair. Why?


The dye contains ammonia, which makes the hair structure more porous and dehydrates the hair.

Thus,   it delays the appearance of dirt.  

However, it doesn’t mean that hair dye solves oily hair problems. Instead, if you have greasy hair and are not sure about coloring it, don’t think twice and go for it!

Do I have to use a special hair dye if I have oily hair?


It’s not necessary.   You should use the same dye as people with dry hair.  

You should only use a different one if you have a sensitive scalp. In that case, you should analyze which dye is best for you. But let’s leave that topic for another article!


In this article, we’ve seen that the best thing to do is to wash your oily hair 24 before coloring it.

You already know that if you arrive at the salon with very dirty hair, the dye won’t be able to penetrate the sebum barrier and the results won’t be what you expect.

But if you follow my advice, I’m sure your new color will look great.

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