When to Wash Hair Before Color or Highlights? (don’t miss these pro tips)

  • If you’re going to dye and highlight your hair all on the same day, it’s best not to wash your hair for a day or two beforehand. That way, you’ll make sure that the chemicals in the dye don’t hurt your scalp.
  • Now, if all you’re going to do are highlights, you should have clean hair. Wash it the same day you go to the salon so your hair can slide through the cap easier when your stylist pulls it through the holes.



with shampoo and conditioner

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When I bake with my grandma, she always tells me that measuring and following the right steps are key to making the cake turn out perfect. She’s right, but her wisdom goes beyond baking. This is true when it comes to hair coloring too. Do you know why?



Because if you try to color your hair without following the right steps and using the exact measurements of peroxide you needed, then the job is doomed to fail.

Now, let’s move on from grandmother’s wisdom to talk about some basic truths you need to keep in mind if you’re going to dye your hair and highlight it on the same day.


We need to talk about how to know exactly when to wash your hair in the process.

 Take notes, because this is going to help you for the rest of your life, just like knowing your multiplication tables. 
  • First, wash your hair.
  • Second, use the dye.
  • Third, do the highlights.


If all you’re doing is touching up your highlights, things change completely because you need to have completely clean hair.


Are you still unsure about when you wash your hair?


Stick with me, because I’ll tell you a few secrets you won’t find anywhere else.

  • When to wash your hair before dyeing and highlighting it
  • How to wash your hair the last time before you color it
  • When to wash your hair if all you’re doing is highlights


When to wash your hair before dyeing and highlighting it

in the shower

As I told you initially, it is key that you don’t wash your hair for at least one or two days before you dye and highlight your hair.


But, use your head!


 Your hair shouldn’t touch shampoo for a day or two.  So, don’t go overboard and go into the salon with hair that you haven’t washed for 10 days because that would be unhygienic, and they will not like that at the salon.

Why is it important not to wash your hair for two days before dyeing and highlighting it?


 Because during that time, your scalp with produce natural oils or sebum that are ultra-important for protecting it from the damage of dye chemicals. 

Remember that dyes contain peroxide and ammonia that can irritate your scalp, especially if you have a sensitive scalp. The sebum that your scalp produces forms a kind of protective film that works against the chemicals that could damage your hair.


And it won’t interfere with the dye color’s processing.


How to wash your hair the last time before you color it

from monat

Another good idea is to use a clarifying shampoo to wash your hair before coloring it.

Do you know what clarifying shampoo is?



It’s a kind of shampoo that eliminates the accumulation of other kinds of hair products, like gels and sprays, and even can help make your hair more porous, so it takes on an even color from the dye.

Make sure you use a nutritive treatment on your hair after using a clarifying shampoo to replace the moisture your hair loses because of the shampoo.


So, the idea is to use the dye on your unwashed hair and leave it in for the necessary amount of time. Obviously, once that time has gone by, you should rinse your hair.

And you can highlight clean, dyed hair no problem because, in this case, you’ll just bleach certain areas so that the chemicals won’t come into contact with your scalp.

Why? Because you never highlight hair directly from the roots.



Now, what happens if all you’re doing are highlights?

Should you also avoid washing your hair for two days beforehand?

We shall see. We shall see.


When to wash your hair if all you’re doing is highlights

If all you’re going to do is highlight your hair, your hair must be completely clean.


I mean that if you can wash your hair a few hours before going to the salon, that would be best. Do you know why?


 Because when you highlight your hair, you are only going to bleach some areas. And those areas aren’t in direct contact with your scalp. 

As such, it’s not possible that the bleach mix with irritate your scalp. But, there’s another thing: Clean hair is easier to manage, and as such, it is easier to detangle.

Can you imagine what would happen if your hair were dirty? It would be tough to pull each strand of hair through the little holes in the cap for highlighting it.


But, do be sure to wash your hair very carefully to avoid hurting your scalp in any way. You don’t want to have any lesions on it, since after all, you just need your hair to be clean, not as shiny as recently polished silver.


It would be a true hell if you had to go through the stylist brushing out your hair if you had hurt your scalp, and it would be uncomfortable for the stylist, too, to have to see your teary eyes as she works on it.


So, if you’re just going to do highlights, your hair should be washed and clean, and if you can do that the same day you’re getting the highlights, even better.



  • If you’re going to dye and highlight your hair the same day, it’s best not to wash your hair for 24-48 hours beforehand. That way, your scalp can produce the sebum necessary to protect it from the harmful effects of dye.
  • Now, if you’re just getting highlights, then your hair should be clean and washed the same day as when you’re getting the highlights to make it easier to manage when it comes time to do the highlights.

Follow the steps. Take the right measurements. Just as my grandma said, that’s what it takes to make a good cake. And that’s also what it takes to make your color turn out perfectly.

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