When to Wash Hair Before Color or Highlights

When to Wash Hair Before Color or Highlights?

Embarking on a hair color transformation journey is thrilling. Whether it’s a dramatic change or subtle highlights, it’s an opportunity to express individuality. 

One common question is, “When is the ideal time to wash my hair before getting it colored or highlighted?” 

This article walks you through the best practices to achieve optimal hair color results as well as answers the question of when to wash hair before color or highlights.

Understanding the Hair Coloring Process

Coloring or highlighting your hair is more than just a simple application process. It involves chemical reactions that could harm your scalp or hair incorrectly. That’s why understanding the ideal conditions for hair coloring is crucial, and the timing of hair wash plays a significant role.

Why Hair Washing Timing Matters in Coloring

Contrary to common belief, freshly washed hair may not be the best canvas for color or highlights. The natural oils in your hair, which build up a few days after washing, can protect your scalp during the coloring process.

How Hair Products Affect the Wash-Color Timing

Your choice of hair products can also impact the best time to wash your hair before coloring or highlights. For example, washing your hair closer to your color appointment may be beneficial if you use heavy styling products. These products can create a barrier that prevents color from penetrating your hair properly. So, it might be ideal to cleanse your hair with these products before the coloring process.

The Ideal Time Gap: When Should I Wash My Hair Before Coloring?

So, what’s the perfect timing? Hair experts generally recommend waiting 24 to 48 hours after washing your hair before applying color or highlights. This period allows enough time for your scalp’s natural oils to build up and provide a protective barrier.

Factors that Affect the Wash-Color Timing

While the 24-48 hour rule generally holds, it’s not universal. The timing can vary based on factors like hair type, scalp health, and the color or highlights being applied. For example, those with oily hair might need to shorten this window, while those with dry hair might extend it.

Maintaining Hair Health Post-Coloring

Understanding when to wash your hair before coloring is crucial, but it’s just as important to know how to care for your colored hair post-process. Wait at least 72 hours before washing your hair after coloring to maintain the vibrancy of your new hair color. 

Using color-safe shampoos and conditioners can also help extend the life of your color. Regular conditioning treatments can keep your hair healthy and vibrant.

Incorporating the Perfect Timing at The Salon at Oakville

At The Salon at Oakville, we consider these factors and provide personalized advice for each client. We understand that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work in hair care, including preparing your hair for coloring or highlights.


The right preparation, including timing your hair wash correctly, can significantly enhance the results of your hair color or highlights. By waiting 24-48 hours after washing your hair before coloring, you allow your hair’s natural oils to act as a protective barrier. Remember, the aim is to celebrate your unique style while ensuring the health of your hair.


When is the best time to wash hair before coloring or highlighting?

Hair experts typically recommend washing your hair around 24 to 48 hours before you plan to apply color or highlights. This interval provides enough time for your scalp’s natural oils to build up, forming a protective layer that can aid in coloring.

Why should I wait to wash my hair before coloring?

Waiting to wash your hair before coloring allows the natural oils from your scalp to build up. These oils protect your scalp from potential irritation or damage during the coloring process and can help the color distribute evenly, leading to better results.

Does the timing vary based on hair type?

The ideal wash-color timing can vary based on several factors, such as your hair type and scalp health. People with oily hair may need to shorten the interval, washing closer to the coloring time, while those with dry hair might benefit from a long gap.

What happens if I color my hair right after washing it?

Coloring your hair immediately after washing can potentially lead to scalp irritation or uneven color distribution. The natural oils that build up a day or two after washing are a protective barrier for your scalp and help the color spread evenly.

Can I use any shampoo before coloring my hair?

It’s generally recommended to use a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo before coloring your hair. Harsh shampoos can strip your hair of its natural oils, which are necessary for protection during the coloring process. Always consult with a professional if you’re unsure.

The Salon Team
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