What happens if you put hair dye on wet hair? 4 really bad things

woman with wet hair

  • If you put hair dye on wet hair several things could happen and none of them will be very good.
  • Right from the first moment you start to apply hair dye to wet hair, you could damage the hair cuticles. Therefore, your hair will be weakened.
  • Then, the moisture in your hair would detract from the strength of the dye’s chemical reaction. Therefore, it would interrupt the coloring process.
  • Finally, when it’s time to rinse the dye out, you’ll notice an uneven color.
  • And that color would also have less intensity.


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As you can see,  it’s not a good idea to dye your hair when it’s wet .

I really don’t know why you thought applying dye to wet hair would be a good idea.

I can guess two reasons, though:

  • The first reason might be that you have unruly hair and it’s hard to detangle it when it’s dry. So you thought that if you apply the dye on wet hair, you’ll be able to distribute it more evenly, without having to tug at it so hard.
  • The second reason might be that you want to save dye. And you think that if you apply it on wet hair, the dye will perform better.


Well, if you’ve thought of any of these reasons, you should know they’re not correct. And if you think of any other reason, it’s not correct either.


Because putting hair dye in wet hair is never a good idea.

And here’s what would happen if you put hair dye in wet hair.


If you put hair dye on wet hair you could damage your hair

hair break when brushing
Why? For the simple reason that when hair is wet, it’s weaker and more prone to damage.


We all know that water is very important for hair. Because in addition to cleaning it, it moisturizes and nourishes it. When you wet your hair, the cuticles of your hair fibers open to absorb moisture.

Now let’s think a moment. You wet your hair and put the dye in.

But, you’ve forgotten one small detail. The dye contains developer and ammonia. Therefore, since water keeps the hair cuticles open, the chemicals will penetrate quicker and more easily into the inner layer of the hair.


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And these chemicals will lodge in the hair core of your wet hair. This can result in  dry and brittle hair. 

To avoid this extra hair damage, hairdressers always put hair color on dry hair.


If you put dye in wet hair the moisture could disrupt the dyeing process

When you dye your hair, a chemical reaction happens in your hair.

When you apply the dye, the developer opens your cuticles and the ammonia sets the color. And  that whole process, opening the cuticles and setting the color, generates heat. 


And that heat makes the dyeing process work. If you put the dye on wet hair, the temperature of the reaction won’t get as high.

Therefore,  your hair won’t absorb the color evenly. 

two color hair


The roots are the only place on your head that maintains the temperature even if it’s wet. So all you’ll achieve is that your roots will be one color and the rest of your hair will be another color.

Also, if the reaction stops, the damage to your hair can be more severe. The first time you wash your hair, you’ll lose the color you applied.


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If you put dye on wet hair your color will turn out uneven

Really, the resulting color of dye on wet hair is a bit chancy. But chances are the color will be localized to certain sections of your hair.

Why would this happen?


Mainly for two reasons:

  • The water your hair absorbs takes up space, so the dye can’t penetrate the hair fiber properly and will only settle on the outside, i.e. on the cuticles. So when you rinse the dye out, you’ll lose part of the color.
  • If your cuticles are open because of the water that holds the wet hair, the dye will penetrate the core directly and lodge in the free space. So if parts of your hair are drier, like the ends, the color will be more intense there.

When you rinse your hair, you’ll notice parts of your hair have lots of color and other parts only have color.


If you put dye on wet hair, the color won’t be as intense

faded and uneven dye in dyed hair
When you dye your hair you want to achieve an intense color. That’s why it’s very important you apply the dye to dry hair.

Let’s go back in history and remember what school was like for a moment.

In art class, when you wanted to get a deep red, did you mix it with water?


Of course not. Because the color would be diluted and less intense.

The same thing happens with dye. If you put dye on wet hair, the water in the hair will mix with the color.

And that will result in a faded, diluted, and dull hair color.



You should always apply hair dye to dry hair. Because if you apply it on wet hair, you’ll get an uneven and faded color.

But, even more seriously, you’ll damage your hair, leaving it brittle and weak.

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