Home Salon FAQ: Can You Dye Wet Hair?

In general, dyeing dry hair is definitely preferable, and in many ways, it is also easier.

You’ve sworn off the salon and colorists and have decided that you can totally dye your own hair. Good, great for you, you little adventurer.

However, as you’re getting ready to begin… you start to doubt yourself.

  • Is this what the hairstylist does first?
  • Is this how she parts it?
  • Can you dye wet hair?

While there are many methods of dyeing hair, permanent dye is usually applied to dry hair in the salon. That’s not to say it can’t be done another way.

Before you get your hands all messy, read this guide.

Can You Put Permanent Hair Color on Wet Hair?

You can… but the color will be muted, and if you’re not doing a full-head application, it will definitely bleed into other areas you didn’t plan to color.

When your hair is slick, the color doesn’t have the opportunity to stick to it as well as it does when it is wet. This can also cause an uneven deposit of color on the hair. 

If you think about a wet sponge – you can’t really get it any wetter; you can not force it to absorb more water. It’s the same with your hair… if it is wet, it can not easily absorb anything else. 

Additionally, your hair is fragile when it’s wet. Applying permanent color to wet hair is more likely to damage it. 

Perhaps the only benefits of dyeing wet hair are that it creates less of a mess – you can lather the dye into your hair right there in the shower and need less dye because the water dilutes the dye and stretches further.

Is It Better to Dye Your Hair When It Is Wet or Dry?

In general, dyeing dry hair is definitely preferable, and in many ways, it is also easier.

Can you put hair dye on damp hair?

Yes, but we don’t recommend it when dealing with permanent hair dye. 

When your hair is dry, you can see exactly where you have deposited the color pigments. It also gives your precision if you aren’t coloring all of your hair. 

Can You Get Your Hair Wet the Day You Dye It?

Experts say that it is best to keep your hair dry the day of and after, and possibly even a third day after the dyeing process.

The hair cuticle will fully close in about 72 hours after the color application. Wetting the hair prematurely could cause the color to fade faster. 

Should I Shampoo My Hair After Dying It?

Please don’t! Wetting your hair and washing it after dyeing is very different. 

Let’s start from the beginning. There’s a long-standing myth that you shouldn’t wash your hair before dyeing it. While this may have been true in the past, when products were harsher, it is not true today. 

You should wash your hair about 12 to 24 hours before dyeing it. If possible, using a clarifying shampoo is ideal. A clarifying shampoo will get rid of any product build-up on your hair, allowing for better and more even color distribution.

After dyeing your hair, do your best to wait 72 hours before washing it. 48 hours is alright, but 72 is better.

The same is said for wetting it, but this rule is even more important when talking about shampooing the hair. Shampooing your hair prematurely will cause color loss. 

Can You Put Semi or Demi-Permanent Hair Color on Wet Hair?

These types of dyes and toners are often applied to wet hair in the salon. Semi-permanent dyes have no ammonia or peroxide. They are much less harsh, less permanent, and less likely to harm your hair. 

It should also be mentioned that anytime you apply dye to your hair, it’s always best to follow the instructions.

8 Keys That Help Protect Hair After Dying It

Color-treated hair needs a little bit more love. It’s fragile.

To keep it healthy and to help the color last longer, you can:

  1. Use a specific hair-care shampoo for color-treated hair
  2. Condition your hair every time you wet it – even if you don’t wash it
  3. Try not to use heat styling tools on it – if you do, use a protective spray
  4. Let your hair air dry (less heat damage)
  5. Avoid chlorinated pool water
  6. Use lukewarm, not scolding hot, water when rinsing your hair
  7. Use leave-in conditioning treatments weekly
  8. Try to wash your hair only 2-3 times a week


With that said, can you dye your hair wet?

A permanent dye will kiss wet hair, but the results will not be nearly as vibrant as you may have expected, and they will likely fade faster. Again, dyeing wet hair with semi-permanent, demi-permanent, or toners is common. Follow the instructions. 

And, as a general disclaimer, your hair should not be dripping wet. It should be towel-dried and uniformly damp. 

So, what new hairstyle trend awaits you?

Leave us a comment below and tell us about it. We know you’ll look amazing.