When should you wash your hair, before color or before highlights?

wash hair before color and highlights

  • You should always wash your hair 72 hours before applying color and highlights. Because this way, the sebum secreted by your scalp will protect your hair from the aggressive chemicals in the dye and bleach.
  • And once you’ve applied the color and highlights, you should also wait 72 hours to wash your hair. And later I’ll tell you how to do it and which products to use.


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What should you do first, color or highlights? Can you do it all on the same day?


Yes, believe it or not,  if you’re going to apply color and/or highlights, your hair must be “dirty” .


In other words, you should wash your hair 72 hours before getting a color and highlights. That way the natural oil secreted by your scalp will protect both your hair and your scalp.

Why is that?


I’ll explain it in a very simple way.

  • The color you’ll apply to your hair contains chemicals, so the skin on your scalp will be sensitive.
  • Highlighting techniques also require bleaching your hair. If you wash your hair before getting highlights, you’ll remove the natural moisture from your scalp. Therefore, the bleaching mixture can cause injury or irritation.


When you arrive at the salon, the first thing they will do is apply the color. Then they will rinse it out and apply the highlight bleach, and rinse again.

After that rinse, they will wash your hair with shampoo and moisturize it with conditioner, so the hair can regain some of the nutrients it lost during the two chemical processes.

wash hair before color and highlights


Now,  when should you wash your hair if you apply the color one day and the highlights several days later? 

Very simple. This would be the correct order of washes before and after doing the color and highlights.

  • You wash your hair 72 hours before doing the color.
  • You do the color and don’t wash your hair for 72 hours.
  • You wash your hair and wait 72 hours to do the highlights.
  • You do the highlights and wait 72 hours to wash your hair.

And I’ll show you this same order with an example.


Let’s suppose that on Monday, you go to the salon to have your color and highlights done.

But since time is short and you have other obligations, you decide to have just the color done. You’ll return to the salon in a few days to have the highlights done.

When you get home, you will have to wait until Thursday to wash it, so your hair can finish absorbing the color. If you wash it before three days, some of the color will fade.

So you wash your hair on Thursday and wait three days to go to the salon for your highlights.

Once you leave the salon with your new color and highlights, it’s time to wash your hair. And that’s what I’ll talk about next.


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When is the best time to wash your hair after color and highlights?

washing hair after highlights

I’m mentioning those sacred hours again. Because in this case,  after applying color and highlights, you should also wait 72 hours to wash your hair. 

Why is that?


Because your hair needs time to absorb the color. Once the color has set, it will start to expel the excess. But remember, you’ve also bleached your hair.

And since your hair lost a lot of moisture, it will absorb everything you apply to your hair.

 If 72 hours haven’t passed since you did the color and highlights and you wash your hair , the cuticles will open to absorb the water. But, because they are open, they will also expel a large part of the color.

And the result will be dull, lackluster hair and faded highlights. And then I can assure you that you’ll scream from the rooftops that you don’t like your highlights.


That’s why it’s essential that you wait 72 hours to wash your hair after getting color and highlights.


How to wash your hair for the first time after doing color and highlights

The first thing I have to tell you is to  choose a shampoo that doesn’t contain sulfates or mineral salts . These ingredients will fade and dull the color.

And I recommend you use a shampoo that contains moisturizers such as coconut oil, keratin, or silk proteins.


Regarding the conditioner, opt for a conditioner with a creamy rather than watery consistency, as this will be an indicator of the quality of the product. The creamier the consistency, the more it will moisturize your hair.

Now  if your hair is damaged by chemical processes , I recommend using repairing shampoos, such as Olaplex 4 and OLAPLEX 5 or products from the WELLAPLEX line.


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How should you wash your highlighted hair like a real pro?

  • In the shower, wet your hair with warm water. Put the shampoo in the palm of your hand and rub it with the other palm to activate its moisturizing agents.
  • Gently massage the shampoo into the lengths and ends of your hair first then work it into the scalp, rubbing it in with your fingertips.
  • Rinse your hair with lukewarm water and  apply the conditioner to the lengths and ends only. 
  • Leave it on for 3 to 5 minutes and rinse it out with plenty of warm water.
  • Before getting out of the shower, give your hair a cold water rinse to close the hair cuticles.

I recommend that you wash your hair every 48 to 72 hours, to protect the health of your hair and prolong the life of the color.



You should wash your hair 72 hours before color and highlights. This way the natural oil from your scalp will protect your hair from the chemicals in the process and prevent scalp injury and irritation.

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