When to Wash Your Hair After Coloring to Prevent Fading, According to Pros

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Experimenting with your hair color can be a fun way to change up your look or get through a stifled style period. (Finding the specific shade you want can also be a source of stress, but once you land on a decision you're happy with, it's pretty close to the best feeling.) While it's often much cheaper than shelling out for a new wardrobe, coloring your hair is still an investment, and you want to make sure it lasts as long as possible, which means knowing when to wash your hair after coloring, and if you should wash your hair before dyeing it.

Proper maintenance is the number one way to ensure your color stays looking fresh, so it's important to know which color-safe products to buy, how often to go in for touch-ups, and the rules of washing to prevent fading. That's right, washing your hair is often framed as a key cause of fading color, but as it turns out, the answer to your burning question, "When can I wash my hair after dyeing it?" is less about when and more about how.

To help explain, we asked a colorist for everything you need to know.

How Long to Wait to Wash Hair After Coloring

"Lots of people believe that the color needs to set in your hair for a few days after coloring — that's actually just a myth," Sydney Palmer, a hair-color specialist at Estetica Salon & Spa in St. Paul, MN, tells PS. "The hair color doesn't set in any more than it already has if you wait to wash it."

So if you've ever wondered, "Can I wash my hair 24 hours after dyeing it?" you have your answer, once and for all. Jade Kromer, a hair-color specialist at Juut Salon Spa in Minneapolis, adds that you can wash your hair as soon as you need to (although you likely won't need to that day if you're coming fresh from the salon). "Washing your hair right after you color it really isn't the problem," she says. "Focus more on what products you're using rather than time in between shampoos."

You might wonder why salons wash your hair after coloring, and the answer is simple: they want to make sure all the dye is out of your hair before getting you styled. They might even double-wash your hair: once to get rid of the dye, and a second time to fully cleanse your hair.

Why Is My Color Fading?

When it comes to hair dye, it's much more important to prevent the dye from leaching out than it is to let it "set" in your hair initially. Each strand of hair is surrounded by the cuticle, which is what traps the color in. When you wash your hair, particularly in hot water, you risk opening up the cuticle and letting the color bleed out. Palmer recommended washing colored hair in cooler water: "That makes your hair cuticle stay closed and keeps your hair color trapped inside the strands of hair. Warm water makes the cuticle more likely to open and let the color out, which is why color fades so fast."

Then comes the question of how to keep your hair color vibrant. If a cold shower doesn't sound appealing to you, you can also wash your hair less frequently and try to avoid water that's steaming hot. If you choose what's known as a "fashion color" for your hair, such as bright pink, orange, or purple, Kromer recommends washing just once a week and using dry shampoo in the meantime. These colors typically require bleaching the hair, which can make cuticles more porous and, therefore, more likely to leak color in the shower.

If you just have highlights or lowlights instead of full hair color, you can be a little more lax about water temperature, Palmer says. Less pigment in the hair means that the temperature of the water matters less. In addition to how frequently you wash your hair and the temperature, what you wash it with can make a big difference in how long your color lasts.

"The type of shampoo, conditioner, and products you use at home are the ultimate reason why your color is going to last or fade," Kromer says. "Drugstore shampoos may feel like they're getting your hair and scalp really clean, but they can have chemicals in them that are linked to fading of professional hair color. If you invest in your products, you'll realize how much more life you'll get from your color."

Some drugstore brands of shampoo and conditioner can contain synthetic ingredients like sulfates, parabens, silicone, and other ingredients that can strip the hair of its color. When you invest in high-quality hair care, you're investing in your hair color and overall hair health. Palmer also recommends watching out for clarifying shampoos, which are "great for getting your scalp clean, but more likely to strip hair of its color." As such, it's best to use those sparingly.

Should You Wash Your Hair Before Dying It?

The short answer: "Yes, but there's really no need," Palmer says. Your colorist will have done that for you. If you head straight from the salon to the gym and need to wash your hair afterward, don't fret — just use cooler water and quality products for your hair type. Palmer recommended washing no more than three times per week with cooler water and the right products. Another tip for avoiding dullness is to regularly use a hair-color mask like the Olaplex No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Hair Mask ($30) or Shu Uemura's Color Lustre Treatment Mask for Color Treated Hair ($72).

Do You Need Shampoo to Rinse Out Hair Dye?

If you're dyeing your hair at home, when it's time to rinse it out, simply use cold water. You should continue rinsing your hair until the water runs completely clear, which signifies that all the dye has been washed out. From there, feel free to shampoo with your typical product and then follow up with a conditioner. Some manufacturers' instructions require forgoing shampoo after dyeing your hair, so make sure to read the instructions on the product you're using.

— Additional reporting by Renee Rodriguez

Kaley Rohlinger Kaley Rohlinger is a freelance writer for POPSUGAR who focuses on health, fitness, food, and lifestyle content. She has a background in the marketing and communications industry and has written for POPSUGAR for over four years.

Renee Rodriguez is a staff writer and social producer for POPSUGAR. She writes across all verticals, but her main areas of expertise focus on fashion and beauty content with an emphasis on reviews and editor experiments. She also produces social content for POPSUGAR's TikTok and Instagram accounts.