If you've recently shifted to hair coloring, or enjoy experimenting with different shades, you've probably asked yourself a question, “How often can I dye my hair?". We get this question a lot, and our answer is simple – it depends!
It depends on your color preference, what color dye you want to use, do you want to tame your hair, or just want to cover grays - There are just too many questions.
While you can technically color your hair as much as you like, the word how often "should" you, has many hairdressers in talk. Some say you should wait anywhere from 3-8 weeks. Some say, 4-6 weeks are ideal.
The thing is, there's no solid answer.
Why the Hair Coloring duration is complicated?
Although the general rule of thumb is anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, it can vary depending on the dye you use. As hair color dyes are made with chemical ingredients, such as PPD and ammonia, coloring it too often can lead to dry and dull hair, while overdoing it can lead to breakage, brittle strands, split ends, and whatnot.
Read More: The problem with conventional hair color dye
This is especially true if you've used permanent hair dye made of chemicals or have bleached your hair. However, it's worth mentioning that plant-based dyes are safe to apply on your scalp, considering they don't pack any chemical ingredients.
How often can you dye your hair?
The kind of dye you use ultimately defines how long the color lasts and what is the actual duration. Here's a quick summary of the discussion, followed by a detailed analysis.
Hair Dye Type
3-6 washes (2 weeks)
15-20 washes (6-8 weeks)
20+ washes (6-8 weeks)
Temporary Hair Dye
Temporary dyes offer the funkiest color shades that one can imagine. As per the name, they last the shortest amount of time and will typically fade away after your first wash. The maximum they can last is from 3-5 days, considering you don't wash your hair in-between.
Semi-permanent dyes are designed to color your hair anywhere from 3 to 6 washes. It means the color will start to fade away after the first week of application and will require touchups on the second week.
However, some semi-permanent dyes last longer, but for this, you might have to check the back label of the packaging.
Funny thing: Most Hollywood celebrities use semi-permanent hair dyes, as they have to redo their hair every week to provide us with that amazing cinematic experience.
This category of dyes are a mixture of semi-permanent and permanent hair dyes. Although the word "Demi-permanent" won't be listed on the packaging, the color that lasts more than 6 weeks falls to this category. In other terms, they will last up to 20 washes.
Demi-permanent dyes have a low level of peroxide, meaning that although the dye molecules do penetrate your hair shaft, they cannot lift hair color.
Permanent hair dye lasts the longest in the spectrum. Generally, it's safe to do a touchup every 6 to 8 weeks. This is the only type of dye that covers grays and directly penetrates your hair cuticle.
Meaning that the results are most effective on your hair and will offer a much darker, richer texture, depending on the shade color you're using.
However, it's worth mentioning that permanent or conventional hair dyes often contain PPD, metallic salts, and ammonia - All of which are chemical substances that can do more harm to your hair than any good.
PPD is also linked with many skin-related allergies and is fabricated as "unsafe" to be used in skincare or haircare-related products.
As opposed to this, henna hair dye is considered safe as it is made from plant-based ingredients and is free from chemical substances.
First Time Hair Coloring
If you're a first-time user, you'll likely be able to get a lighter color than someone who does this more frequently. This is because your hair is already strong and is not prone to dye molecules.
This statement also holds for plant-based hair dye, such as henna. You might have to do 2-3 applications before you get your desired color, especially if it’s bleached.
What if your hair is bleached?
Although it is not a dye, bleach is used to lighten your already dyed color. Bleach is very harsh on hair, which is why experts caution against this. You'll also want to make sure that you don't bleach your already dyed hair.
The best way to lighten your hair color is to wait for the dye to fully release its molecules.
How to make your color last longer?
In a parallel universe, if you're looking to make your color last longer, follow the tips provided below.
- Use a heat protectant
Products such as leave-in conditioners, detangler spray are perfect to improve your hair color and help protect it from pollution. A heat protectant is also good enough to use with your hair styling.
- Use color-safe shampoo
Color-safe shampoos are designed specifically to use with color-treated hair, so your hair does not look dry or dull. When buying a color-safe product, make sure to go for something sulfate and paraben-free. This helps prolong the vibrancy of the hair color.
- Keep your hair moisturized
A good way to deep condition your hair is to use a moisturized, preferably in the form of oil. Some of the prominent names in this category include amla oil, castor oil, olive oil, and coconut oil. These moisturizers not only help with the hair color but also improve your overall scalp health.
- Protect your hair from heat
When you use unnecessary hair styling products, such as blow dryers or straighteners, you're not just affecting your hair color but also your overall hair health. Limit the heat exposure to the point that you only do this on the special events - like real special events.
- Keep your hair hydrated
Another great way to make your hair fresh and color vibrant is to hydrate it. First, drink plenty of water and eat fresh fruit. Second, make sure to wash your hair and moisturize it at least twice every week. You can also apply a leave-in conditioner, a hair mask, or other hydration products.
Hair coloring is fun - It is a great way to revamp your look and provide yourself some inner confidence. But doing it more often have some serious drawbacks. Not to mention, the products themselves contain tons of chemicals that can harm your natural hair growth.