hair color application Is It Okay To Dye Your Hair While It’s Wet?

The answers to your most pressing hair color questions.

July 01, 2020
Dying Wet Hair CMS Bmag (3)

When you’re trying to make a hair dye decision, it can seem like there are more questions to ask than colors to choose from. That’s why we’re constantly addressing the common and unusual hair color queries, like what's your best type of hair dye and how often you can dye your hair. However, with all the new hair hacks and hair color trends, there’s always a fresh lesson to learn on your quest to achieve and maintain the perfect color-treated hair. If you’re currently looking to change up your hair hue, one hair color concern that may be top of mind is whether or not you can dye your hair while it’s wet. While the cardinal rules of hair school suggest that dye should only be applied to dry hair, we’re sharing a few exceptions where coloring your strands while still damp could actually be a benefit. 

Can You Dye Your Hair If It’s Wet?

Under the right circumstances, it is absolutely possible to color your hair while it’s still wet. The method of applying hair dye to wet hair is typically used to achieve subtle results or recommended for certain hair highlighting techniques.  

However, your hair is at its most fragile state when wet, so if not done properly the coloring process could result in breakage and damaged hair. Since most
at-home hair color kits aren’t meant to be used on wet hair, it's best to leave wet hair coloring to the pros. Furthermore, if you’re coloring your hair at home with a kit, always follow the directions included inside for the best results.

Should You Wash Your Hair Before Coloring It?

Most hair dyes are formulated to work best on hair that isn’t freshly washed, so it’s best to skip the shampoo directly before your coloring session. Instead, clean your hair the day before with then simply wet your hair with lukewarm water beforehand if you plan to dye it wet.

If you’re headed to the salon, there is no need to show up with wet strands. Your colorist will decide whether it’s best to color your hair dry or wet based on your desired outcome and take things from there.

Editor’s note: It’s also suggested that you avoid washing your hair directly after you dye it since shampoo could strip the color just applied. Instead, rinse out the dye with lukewarm water and wait 48 hours before reaching for shampoo. If you’re dyeing your hair at home, take a look at the instructions included with your at-home color kit — some may recommend shampooing after while others will advise against it. 

3 Reasons To Dye Your Hair While Wet

Depending on the type of hair dye and your desired hair color outcome, applying dye to wet hair can have its benefits. Here are some of the most common hair coloring conditions that call for damp strands. 

1. To Add Subtle Dimension

One of the most popular ways to color wet hair is the wet balayage technique. This low-maintenance highlighting method creates beautiful brightened ends that give hair a subtle pop of dimension. This process requires a keen eye placement and instead of hair dye it actually uses bleach, so it’s best to visit a seasoned colorist for your wet balayage rather than trying it at home.

2. Better Coverage For Coarse Or Thick Hair Texture

For those with thick or coarse hair, sometimes dyeing your hair when damp — not wet — can help to distribute the color more evenly. Depending on the length and density of your hair, along with the type of hair dye being used, the added moisture can make sure every inch of your beautiful hair is fully saturated with the color that you choose.

3. You’re Using A Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Since semi-permanent hair dye isn’t formulated with peroxide or ammonia, it can be beneficial to use it on wet hair. This will open up the cuticles of the hair shaft and allow the color to absorb better into wet strands. However, this depends on the semi-permanent hair dye being used so always follow the directions included to get the best results and prevent any damage to your hair.

Next: Is It Okay To Bleach Wet Hair?

Edited by: Lauren Paige Richeson, Photo Credit: Matthew Kelly, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Creative Producer: Becca Solovay