Why won’t my hair take color? 5 possible causes and when to dye your hair again

gummy texture

If your hair won’t take color, the first thing you need to do is find out why. There are 5 possible reasons.


 All 5 of these problems have solutions, so don’t freak out. I promise that within a few minutes, you’ll know exactly why the dye didn’t take to your hair, and you’ll also know how to fix it.  

I imagine that your end goal is to dye your hair again, so I also want to tell you when you can do that.


I ordered the possible causes for dye not taking to hair from most frequent to least frequent, so I’d recommend you read through them in order until you’ve found the possible reason why the hair dye didn’t take to your hair.

Let’s start with the most frequent reason.


Tabla de Contenidos


The color dye you chose isn’t right

shampoos and conditioners

You see incredible colors in posts on social media often, and you’d love to have a color like that in your hair.

But, do you know if you really can get that color?


Your hair’s base tone is very important when it comes time to choose a new color since that is what determines if your hair will absorb the new color or not.

Did you know that there is a saying that goes, “color on color doesn’t lighten hair?”

Do you know what it means?


 If you have a really dark base tone, your hair will stay dark even if you use the lightest color out there. 

For example:

If you have level 3 dark brown hair and use a lighter blonde 9 on it, you won’t see any difference. Your hair will keep on being dark.

If your hair is a brown 4 and you use a blonde 8 on it, it’ll be the same thing: you won’t see a difference.

How can you fix that?


To be able to see the color, you need to choose shades that are closer together.

For example:

  • If you have dark brown 3 hair, you can use a medium brown 5 dye.
  • If your hair is brown 4, then you can use light brown 6 dye on it.


 The maximum number of shades you can lighten your hair and still be able to see a difference is 2. So, take your base tone number and add 2 to it. 

If you do that, then you’ll always be able to see a difference.


Not choosing the right color dye is the most common reason why hair dye didn’t take in your hair.


When can I dye my hair again if I chose the wrong color dye?

If you respect the two-shade rule, then you can dye your hair again immediately.

If you used one color and didn’t see a difference, you can go to a haircare store or pharmacy to get the right color.



You didn’t leave the dye in your hair for the right amount of time

color kits for home use

This happens way more than you think it does.

Many women think that when they use dye on their hair and have already seen the color in their hair, they can go ahead and rinse their hair.

The time that the directions indicate to leave the dye in your hair is very important, and you need to do exactly what it says.

Do you know why?


When you use dye that includes a developer, you’ll see that within 10-20 minutes, your hair has already changed color.

That’s because of the chemical process mixing the developer with the dye causes in your hair.

The developer opens your hair cuticles so your hair can absorb the color.

That takes about 30 minutes.

That’s why you’ll often see that in the instructions that come with the hair dye, it says to leave the dye in your hair for 30-45 minutes.



If you do, then the color won’t settle in your hair.


How to fix it?

It’s easy, all you need to do is use the dye again and leave it in your hair for the amount of time the instructions indicate.

You should always follow the rules provided by the manufacturer.

When you use the color mix in your hair, you’ll need to leave it in for 30-45 minutes if you’re using a medium or dark dye.

If you’re using a lighter dye, you need to leave it in your hair for 45-50 minutes.

That way, the color will perfectly settle into your hair, and you won’t have any issues.


When can I dye my hair again?

This is the same as the previous issue.

You can dye your hair again immediately; all you need to do is go to the store and buy another kit.


That way, the color will settle perfectly into your hair, and you’ll end up with long-lasting and bright color.


You didn’t consider your hair’s color history

This is an error that many women commit.

Do you know what your color history is?

It’s like your clinical history, but of the dyes you’ve used in the past. And you always need to keep it in mind.

What do I mean by that?


 If you used a permanent dye on your hair, and then you decide that you want to get a new color using a semi-permanent dye, it won’t work.  

You should always keep in mind the kind of dye that you last used.

  • If it was a permanent dye, you should use a permanent dye.
  • If it was a semi-permanent dye, you should use a semi-permanent dye.


I have a client that loves to play around with her hair color.

She used a permanent blue-black color in her hair.

But, then, she decided it was too dark, so she wanted to use a semi-permanent purple dye instead.

Do you know what happened when she used the purple dye?


Exactly, her hair was the same blue-black it had been. It was like she’d never even used the new dye.

That’s because permanent dye is stronger than semi-permanent dye.

So, you always need to respect the rule of which is stronger when it comes to dyeing your hair.


For example:

  • If you want to use permanent dye over semi-permanent dye, it’s no problem; you can do it.


The real problem is when you want to use weaker dyes over stronger dyes.

For example:

  • If you want to use semi-permanent dye over permanent dye, it won’t work.




How can you fix it?

If you used a permanent dye last and now you want to use a semi-permanent dye, you need to wait until your color fades and then use the new dye.

To use a new kind of dye, you should always wait until the dye you had before fades.

That works best with semi-permanent dyes since they last less time than permanent dyes.

Now, I should clarify one very important thing.


If you have a very dark color that you used a permanent dye to get, you might need to slowly remove the color to be able to use a new kind of dye.

You can do that using a clarifying shampoo. It’s easy to use and will give excellent results.

The other option is to bleach your hair. With just simple bleach, you’ll be able to use the new semi-permanent dye in the color you’ve chosen.


When can I dye my hair again?

In this case, you’re going to need to wait until your base color fades, or you’ll need to remove the color.

That depends on the base tone you have in your hair now.


If it’s a medium or light color, all you need to do is wait until the color fades.

That will happen after about 3-5 weeks, and once that time has gone by, you can use the new dye.

If your color is dark or very dark, you’re going to need to remove the color, after which you can immediately use the new dye you’ve chosen.


Your hair isn’t used to these kinds of processes, or it’s very thick

If this is what you think happened to you, I recommend going to a salon for help about what steps you need to take.


Many women decide to use a certain color on their hair, then keep it for years.

That means that their hair doesn’t have the necessary porosity to absorb dye when trying to use a new one.

Since they always have the same color, they only use new dye on their roots, and they don’t touch up the rest of their hair.


When hair has little porosity, it’s more difficult for the dye’s developer to break your hair fiber’s cuticles to allow it to absorb the pigment.

 The same thing happens to women with thick, dark hair.  I’ll tell you a short little story.


A client came to my salon wanting to use a red dye on her hair.

Since her base color was black, I need to bleach her hair lightly.

I used a 30 volume developer when I bleached her hair because her hair was very dark.

You would not believe my surprise when after 30 minutes, her hair hadn’t changed color at all!


She had the same color as before, and it was like I hadn’t even used the bleach.

That usually happens with thick, dark hair since thicker hair tends not to be so porous, making it so the developer can’t do its job.

But of course, if you want to change your hair color, you’ll need to do something more extreme.


How to fix it

In this particular case, your only option is to use a stronger developer on your hair.

I recommend going to a salon to get a professional’s help instead of doing it at home.


Your hair needs to be more porous for it to be able to absorb the new color, and you accomplish that by bleaching your hair.

The bleach mix should use a 40 volume developer so you can be sure your hair cuticles open.


You need to carefully control this process:

  • 40 volume developer is dangerous for your hair since it might burn it or dry it out, and then the only solution would be to cut it.
  • Once you’ve started to use the mix, check on your hair color every 5 minutes.
  • You’ll have to decide what color you want to get to by bleaching your hair based on what color you want to use on it eventually. When you start to see your base color disappearing, you can rinse your hair.
  • It’s normal for you to feel the heat, but if it starts to itch or burn, you need to rinse your hair immediately with cold water. 


When can I dye my hair again?

Once you’ve finished with the bleaching process, your hair will be porous enough to absorb a new color.

You can use the new dye immediately after bleaching your hair.


Keep the two-shade rule and your color history in mind, so your final color looks perfect.

I’d recommend doing everything all in the same day, so be sure to have the new color kit you’re going to use before you bleach your hair.


Your hair is burned or extremely dry

hair damaged by chemicals and dyes

If this is your case, your hair definitely won’t take color.

When hair burns, it turns gummy and there’s nothing you can do.

You’ll need to cut your hair, getting rid of all of the dry and burned parts, then moisturize it until you reach at least mediumly-healthy hair.

Burned hair is lifeless hair, since it doesn’t have any proteins or vitamins.

Do you know why?


 When hair burns, its cuticles open and the hair fiber underneath is exposed. When your hair fiber deteriorates, there’s nothing you can do to save it.  


How can you fix it?

First off, you’re going to need to cut your hair to get rid of the damaged areas.

That way, you’ll only have healthy hair left and it will be strong.

You’ll need to moisturize your hair to then be able to use the dye.

  • Use a keratin mask 2 times a week
  • Use cuticle repairing oils every 2 days
  • Use essential oils every day on your ends to keep up constant moisture


This process should last for 2 months.

You’ll see that your hair will be stronger and healthier after a few weeks of the treatment.


When can I dye my hair again?

You shouldn’t use any dye while you’re trying to moisturize your hair.

If you do, you might end up further damaging your hair.

When you finish moisturizing your hair, you can use a new color of dye.


 So, now you know, this process should take about 8 weeks, and after that, you’ll be able to dye your hair again.  

Try to choose a color similar to your base color, no more than two shades different from it.

That way, you won’t have to bleach your hair.



If your hair won’t take color, I’m almost 100% sure it’s because of one of the 5 reasons we went through above.

If you couldn’t find one for why your hair won’t take color after going through all of these possible causes, I recommend going to a salon where a professional can help you figure out what steps to take next.

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