Skip to content
October, 19 2018

Is it better to dye hair dirty or clean?


Jeanette @JdeV Prestwick store

Dyeing your hair can be an exciting experience if you’re a novice but it can also be quite nerve-wracking. Have you really picked the right shade? Do you really need to do a strand test first? However, one of the biggest debates out there concerns whether or not you should be dyeing your hair after you’ve washed it or before. That’s why today I’ll be attempting to address this common query as well as how you can look after your newly coloured hair. 

Can I dye my hair if I haven’t washed it?

When it comes to dyeing your hair, surprisingly dirty hair can be at an advantage. A lot of this comes down to the chemicals that are used in conventional hair dyes – ammonia, peroxide and alcohol can all be extremely abrasive for healthy hair, irritating your scalp and making your hair more prone to damage and breakages. However, your hair has its own natural defence mechanism – sebum oil.

Sebum is produced by your sebaceous glands which are present on your skin and scalp. The main function of sebum is to keep your hair and scalp nice and moisturised, protecting these areas from oxidative stress, bacterial infections and yes, you guessed it, those harmful toxins that could be lurking in your hair dye!

However, despite all the wonderful benefits that sebum oil can offer, if can build up, making your hair appear greasy and increasing your risk of experiencing dandruff. This is where washing your hair comes into the picture as shampoo can help to rid your hair of excess oil, keeping it looking healthy and lustrous.

If you’re about to dye your hair though, this level of cleanliness can be problematic. Your hair may look healthier but, once you’ve added hair dye into the equation, the lack of sebum oil can leave your hair even more exposed to damage and dryness.

When can you wash your hair after dyeing it?

Okay, so not washing your hair for a couple of days before dyeing it might be a good idea but what about once you’ve dyed your hair? When is it a good idea to wash your hair then? Well, generally, most experts would advise that you leave your newly coloured hair for at least 72 hours before attempting to wash it.

This is because rinsing your hair with warm or hot water can open your hair follicles (the protective layer that defends your hair shaft) allowing colour to bleed out of your hair which then makes your new do appear dull and faded.

My colleague Jenny talks more about this in her blog, ‘How long should I wait to wash my hair after dyeing it?’ Here she also talks about the importance of picking your shampoo and conditioner carefully. This is because, as I’ve mentioned, shampoo by its design is formulated to strip oil away from your scalp and, if you’re using a particularly harsh shampoo, this can easily upset or damage colour treated hair.

Jenny recommends John Masters’ Organic Lavender Shampoo and I have to agree with her. This shampoo is incredibly gentle and contains no abrasive ingredients. Instead it relies on natural, plant-based components such as rosemary and chamomile, soothing and strengthening your hair without irritating your scalp or contributing to dryness.

How can I protect my colour-treated hair going forwards?

Hair that has been dyed will definitely need a lot of TLC going forwards so it’s really important you consider how you’re treating your hair and what types of products you’re using on it. Here at Jan de Vries we advise being as natural as possible as most high-street shampoos, conditioners and serums are loaded with harsh chemicals and toxins.

This is a good approach to adapt, especially if your hair has received some colour treatment. I’ve already espoused the benefits of choosing a gentle, nourishing shampoo but you should try and translate this into all of your hair care products. John Masters’ don’t just deal with shampoos and conditioners, they also offer nutrient-rich oils that can help to treat your hair, easing frizz and preventing breakages.

Our favourite is definitely their 100% Argan Oil, which is extremely dense in omega-6 fatty acids which can help to soften your hair, enriching your hair with plenty of free-radical fighting antioxidants. You can use it to condition your hair after washing or you can apply a small amount to dry hair to help tame any frizz, giving you a smoother, silkier look.

If you want to learn more about how to keep your coloured hair from fading, I’d highly recommend reading Sam’s blog, ‘How do I keep my dyed hair from fading?