Should You Wash Your Hair Before You Color It? We Asked An Expert

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Written by Rachel Miller

Updated: January 9, 2024

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the question: should I wash my hair before I color it? Like most things when it comes to our hair, it depends. Depends on what, you ask? Mostly, it depends on what condition your hair is in, and what type of coloring you have.

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty details.

Pros and Cons of Washing Hair Before Coloring

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Can greasy hair really help hair dye application? Yes.

Your hair’s natural oils can provide a protective layer against scalp irritation that might occur during the coloring process. This is an advantage if you have sensitive skin, but it’s not just about the scalp.

These oils can also reduce potential hair damage caused by the dye’s ingredients. They create a natural barrier, limiting direct contact between your hair strands and the harsh dye substances. So, it turns out that going a day or two without washing your hair could actually be part of optimal hair dye prep.

However, it’s not all grease and glory. There’s a flip side to coloring unwashed hair and it’s related to dye uptake.

If your hair is excessively oily, the dye may not adhere properly to your strands. The resultant color might be unevenly distributed or less vibrant than expected. While it’s rare for this to happen, it’s something to keep in mind. If you prefer washing your hair just before dyeing, you’re not doomed. Just make sure to use an ammonia-free dye and safeguard your strands with a heat protectant.

Our Take on Pre-Color Hair Washing

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For us, days-old hair laden with natural oils offers the best hair environment for coloring. Why?

The scalp’s natural oils act as a protective barrier against potential irritation. In fact, we recommend washing your hair a day or two before dyeing, using sulfate-free shampoo for optimal results. This timeline can certainly help if you’re using ammonia-free dyes, which are friendly to freshly-washed hair too.

However, the waiting time between washing and dyeing isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. Depending on the specific hair dye you’re using, the recommended timeframe might vary.

For instance, using an at-home hair dye kit like L’Oréal Paris’s Féria or Colorista may require specific hair preparation steps.

The main take-away here? When deciding to wash or not to wash before coloring, always adhere to the instructions and expert advice related to your chosen hair dye.

Do so, and you’re sure to achieve a fabulous, vibrant color every time.

Types of Hair Colors Products

Breathing life into lackluster locks begins with understanding which hair color products suit your specific needs and how to use them effectively.

Consider L’Oréal Paris Féria, a revolutionary permanent hair color known for its multi-faceted, shimmering effects. This triple protection system deeply cares for hair, delivering 100 percent gray coverage, even on stubborn grays.

Its designing cream formula, with its caring complex, not only protects your hair while coloring but also helps minimize drips and spills during the process. This product generously allows for application on both freshly washed and greasy hair.

On the other hand, L’Oréal Paris Colorista Hair Makeup Temporary 1-Day Hair Color Spray offers a pigment pick-me-up that boosts shine and enhances your color—ideal for those in-between color sessions. This in-shower gloss is flexible, working on all hair colors and textures. Plus, it offers a clear formula for virgin tresses needing deep conditioning and a brightness boost.

In both cases, hair cleanliness is less of a concern. However, for best results, always adhere to the product-specific instructions and recommendations.

How Your Hair Type Influences Washing Decision

Copper Hair

You’re not alone if you’ve ever questioned the decision to wash or wait before a hair dye session. The truth lies not just in the dye you’re using, but also in what your hair is like.

Think of your hair type as a key determining factor in this equation. Is your hair naturally dry or oily? Coarse or fine? Straight or curly? These characteristics play a vital role in deciding when to wash your hair before dyeing.

If you’ve been blessed with thick, coarse hair or curly locks, then a golden rule is to avoid washing your hair just before coloring. With the extra layer of natural oils to protect your strands, these hair types can handle dyes better when not freshly washed.

On the contrary, fine hair or straight hair lacks this natural barrier and might benefit from being clean before applying color, especially if you’re using an ammonia-free dye.

Why is this crucial you may wonder? Greasy hair can sometimes cause uneven color distribution, particularly if your locks are fine or straight. This can result in a patchy, less vibrant color. It’s all about striking a balance and letting your hair type and condition guide you in your decisions about hair wash schedules before taking the color plunge.

What to Do Right Before Coloring


If you’ve meticulously timed your hair washing, it’s now time to think about your final, pre-color preparations. In the hours leading up to applying your L’Oréal Paris or Féria hair dye, you may be tempted to whip out your favorite serum or texturizing spray.

However, don’t use any styling products at this phase. Their residues can hinder the dye’s optimal uptake, leading to uneven color results.

Next, while you may equate a blow-dry with priming your hair for a major change, here’s where a rule exception surfaces. Instead of blasting heat for faster drying, pat your hair dry with a towel, then let it air dry. Should you absolutely need to use a heat tool, then guard your strands.

To that end, make the L’Oreal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Weightless Heat Protectant your ultimate pre-coloring partner. Its protective prowess ensures your heat styling doesn’t compromise your hair, providing a solid foundation for your new color to shine.

By taking such calculated last-minute steps, you create a conducive environment on your hair for the dye. This, in turn, bolsters the chances of a successful at-home coloring result bursting with vibrancy, just as you imagined.

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