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We’ve covered popular hair queries from how often you should wash your hair to how often you can color it. Next on our list? Coloring wet hair! Yes, you read that right. While applying hair dye to dry hair may be what comes to mind when you think of getting your hair dyed, lately, there has been quite a bit of buzz around if you can dye wet hair. With techniques like wet balayage, in particular, gaining attention, we’re sure you have some questions. So, can you dye wet hair? We’re detailing everything you need to know below.
The short answer: yes! Of course, with the wet balayage technique taking over the beauty scene, it should come as no surprise that you can dye your hair when it’s wet. That being said, your hair is at its most fragile state when wet, so putting hair dye on wet hair can result in damaged hair and breakage.
Hoping to make a drastic color change? You’ll want to stick with dyeing your strands while they’re dry. Coloring your hair while it’s wet is best for subtle results and looks that are less likely to cause damage. Some people choose to apply semi-permanent hair dye to wet hair, as opposed to dry since some ammonia-free formulas like semi-permanent hair color can better absorb into wet strands. But, this can still damage your strands! As a rule of thumb, always follow the directions of the specific product you’re using.
If you plan to dye wet hair, you may be wondering if you should wash your hair before you color it. Even if you don’t plan to dye wet hair, you might be curious if you can dye your hair right after washing it. Most hair dyes are formulated to work best on hair that isn’t freshly washed, so it’s a good idea not to use shampoo prior to coloring your mane (that said, you don’t want to dye your hair when it’s overly greasy, as this can affect the outcome of your hair color). Instead, simply wet your hair with lukewarm water beforehand if you plan to dye it wet.
If you’re headed to the salon, however, there is no need to show up with wet hair. 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: Speaking of washing your hair and hair coloring, you also shouldn’t wash your hair directly after coloring it. This is because your shampoo can strip the color you just applied. No thanks! Instead, simply rinse out the dye with lukewarm water, as instructed, 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. Either way, it’s best to follow those directions!
You may be wondering, why would anyone dye wet hair in the first place? Well, there are actually a few reasons...
Reason #1: Try wet dyeing if…you want subtle dimension. Wet balayage is one of the most popular ways to color wet hair, and that’s because it creates absolutely beautiful results. If you want a bit of subtle, low-maintenance dimension, this is a great option. Keep in mind, wet balayage actually veers outside of using hair dye on damp strands and is largely about bleaching wet hair.
Reason #2: Try wet dyeing if…you have coarse, thick hair. Sometimes, those with thick, coarse hair can benefit from dyeing damp—not wet—hair. This, of course, depends on the individual coloring their hair and the hair dye being used.
Reason #3: Try wet dyeing if…you’re using semi-permanent hair dye. Since semi-permanent hair dye isn’t formulated with peroxide, 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, though it depends on the hair dye being used. Always follow the included directions!
We’d advise against it. Most at-home hair color kits aren’t meant to be used on wet hair, so it’s best to leave wet hair coloring to the pros. You don’t want to end up damaging your mane in an attempt to try this trend!
Next up: Speaking of coloring your hair at home, perhaps you’d like to learn more about how to do so. Head on over to our articles, How to Highlight Your Hair at Home and How to Bleach Your Hair at Home, to get the scoop.
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