Washing hair after colouring: The dos and don’ts of colour hair care

Sporting a new hue? Learn how to care for colour-treated hair with our post-dye top tips.  

Is there a better feeling than walking out of the salon with a freshly-dyed ‘do? We thought not. Whether you’ve opted to lighten, brighten or darken your hair, newly-coloured tresses always put us in a good mood. Despite this, most people can question what products and techniques they should use when caring for coloured hair. Often wondering: “Should you wash your hair before you colour it?” Or, how to long to wait when washing hair after colouring.

Ultimately, the goal when looking after dyed hair is to keep your colour looking as fresh as possible. Francesca Rapolla, an expert from the Research and Development team at Unilever weighs in on the topic. “The best way to do this is by using specialist products formulated for your specific hair colour and needs,” she recommends.

So, whether you’ve bleached your hair blonde or are sporting a rich hue, there are some universal after-care ‘no-nos’ and product go-tos. Want to know more? ATH reveals what techniques you should be using when washing hair after colouring…

Washing hair after colouring: Woman in salon with hair in sink being washed
Want to know how long to wait to wash hair after colouring?

How long should I wait to wash my hair after colouring it?

As Francesca points out, your tresses will usually be washed as part of the dyeing process, so, if possible, don’t re-wash them as soon as you get home.

Despite this, she does state that “at what point you do end up washing your hair after colouring will not impact the longevity of the colour.” Translation = if you do have to jump in the shower asap, it won’t make an impact on the vibrancy of your colour. Phew!

So it really doesn’t matter when we wash our hair after dying it? “There is no specific time you should wait to wash your hair after getting it coloured,” confirms Francesca.

How often should you wash coloured hair?

If this is the first time you’ve dyed your locks, you might need to adjust your weekly washing routine. This is to make sure you’re not over-washing your hair. Hair that’s dyed with a lot of pigment can look more faded, the more you wash it. So, if possible, try to only wash it every other day at most, or, ideally every 2-3 days.

So, should you actually wash your hair before colouring? If you’re bleaching your roots, the answer is no. The natural oils in your hair can actually protect the scalp during the dying process. In general though, as Francesca points out, “you should always follow the set instructions of whatever particular dye you are using.”

Whatever colour you’ve opted for, it’s important to think about your hair texture when creating a washing schedule. Natural hair tends to be dryer than other types so if you have dyed your natural locks, it may be best to only wash them once a week.

Fine hair, on the other hand, may need to be washed up to every other day. This is due to the natural build up of sebum and oils in the hair that can weigh it down and make it appear flat.

Make sure you’re using the right products for the job

Step away from your regular shampoo! Coloured hair needs to be washed with formulas that are up for the task. During the dyeing process the hair is damaged and the cuticle (the surface of the hair) can be chipped making it appear rough or dull. Francesca adds, “as the natural protective barrier of the hair is damaged during this process, it allows hair colour to leach out, fading with time.” Ultimately, leaving you will less vibrant locks.

Products like the TRESemmé Colour Shineplex Shampoo and Conditioner are great for coloured tresses. This sulphate free shampoo will gently cleanse the hair without stripping colour and shine, while the conditioner is designed to visibly repair the surface of the hair. And, by replenishing the protective barrier that has been broken down during the dyeing process, this will mean your hair will be smoother, shiny and more vibrant-looking.

If you’re a new (or seasoned) blonde, add an illuminating or toning shampoo and conditioner into your shower routine to help keep your shade on point. Whether you’ve opted for a subtle balayage or a bold, bleached look, pick products that are tailored to your tone.

We suggest using the TRESemmé Violet Blonde Shine Shampoo and Conditioner to nourish the hair to add shine and enhance the vibrancy of lighter locks.

Washing hair after colouring: Woman in the shower with wet soapy hair close up
Time for a cold shower? Washing hair after colouring requires less hot water than you think.

Do hot showers make your hair colour less vibrant?

They can do. According to Francesca, “hot water opens up the hair cuticle possibly making more colour leach out.” In contrast, cold water tends to ‘seal’ the cuticle. That might be the case but, let’s be honest, we’re not all going to swap our hot showers in favour of an ice bath anytime soon.

It’s best to simply be aware that the more time your rinse coloured hair under a hot water, the more it can loose its vibrancy. As such, giving the hair a quick blast of cold water or placing a shower cap over your hair after it’s been washed are two much easier (and less chilly) ways to protect coloured hair.

Add a moisturising mask into the mix when washing hair after colouring

As colouring is a chemical process, it can leave your hair feeling and looking a little dry. This can also affect the overall vibrancy as more moisturised hair will reflect light better, giving you a high-shine colour.  Keep your hair in its best condition by using a deep conditioning hair mask at least once a week. Tackling dryness as well as helping your colour stay bright and fresh, we suggest using the Love Beauty And Planet Blooming Strength & Shine 2 Minute Magic Masque.

With Amazonian Muru Muru Butter and rose absolute, this miracle masque will help moisturise your coloured hair and also leave it with a healthy-looking gleam. Making it ideal to use the first time you wash your hair after colouring and at least once a week, after.

Fight the fade with a few of these hair hacks

Bad news, beach worshippers: spending too much time in direct sunlight can cause your colour to fade. Your best course of action? The next time you’re reclining poolside, make sure to cover your head with a hat or scarf to keep your hair as shaded as possible. It’s also important to wash your hair post-swim with a shampoo that is formulated to help nourish the hair. Chemicals found in most pools like chlorine can leave the hair feeling, and looking brittle. (Remember: dryer locks = duller-looking colour.)

As coloured hair can be more vulnerable to heat, protecting your tresses when using styling products is also a key step. Do this by including a heat protectant spray in your styling routine if you’re using any kind of heated tool. This will help stop coloured hair feeling dry or damaged. Both of which can lead to your colour looking more dull over time.

Washing hair after colouring: Rear view of women with long purple hair styled into a ponytail, wearing blazer and posing for an All Things Hair street style shot
Spruce up your tresses with dry shampoo. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Want a break from washing hair after colouring? Use a dry shampoo or try co-washing

While dry shampoo shouldn’t replace any steps in your usual washing schedule, it can leave your hair feeling fresher, without water. A spritz of dry shampoo will give you an extra day between washes, meaning you won’t have to subject your coloured to hot water as much. Protecting not only the cuticle, but the colour and condition.

If you’re struggling to skip out on washing your hair because you worry about grease, you should try using a co-washing (AKA cleansing your hair with a conditioner instead of a shampoo) with the TRESemmé Colour Shineplex Cleansing Conditioner.

This will gently refresh your mane and roots without stripping it of its natural oils, helping protect your hue and also improving its vibrancy and shine.