A few hours ago, a new hair color seemed like the perfect way to add some excitement to your life… but you’ve been hiding out in your house ever since, and you’re now Googling “How soon can I dye my hair again if I don’t like it?”
You are not alone! Most of us have been there at least once in our lives. Regardless of whether the bad dye job happened at home or in the salon, resist the temptation to rush to the store and grab another box of dye.
If you don’t like your dye job, wait AT LEAST 2 weeks before dyeing it again. For best results, wait a full 4-8 weeks before re-dyeing it.
Over-dyeing your hair can cause dryness, brittleness, and breakage. Let’s talk more about how long you should wait to re-dye your hair and why.
How long should I wait to dye my hair again?
If you’re concerned about your hair health, turn to the experts. Hair scientists (also known as trichologists) recommend waiting a full 15 days before dyeing again.
Any hair dye can permanently damage your hair, but permanent hair color, hair bleach, and high-volume developers are the most damaging. If you used a semi-permanent dye, try washing it several times to see if you like the color better after it fades.
In most cases, hairstylists recommend waiting 4-6 weeks between hair appointments, because hair grows ½” per month on average. This gives your hair some time to recover but doesn’t leave you with those unpleasant roots for too long. If you can stand to wait, aim for a full 6 weeks before re-dyeing your hair.
While deciding how long to wait before re-dyeing, consider the state of your own hair. If you seem to be shedding, or your hair appears dryer than usual, wait as long as possible before re-dyeing your hair. Use store-bought hair masks or DIY coconut oil hair masks to heal your hair while you wait.
Even if you think your hair appears healthy and strong, wait at least two weeks before attempting to dye it again.
What happens to your hair if you re-dye it too soon?
Chemical hair treatments break down the protein strands in your hair. Bleaches and dyes destroy hair fibers, which in turn makes the hair:
Please avoid dyeing your hair within a week or two, or else you may experience significant breakage. You’ll notice split ends, and you will have more difficulty combing through your hair. It will feel more fragile and appear less shiny. Your hair could even fall out.
In order to avoid a “chemical haircut,” wait 4 weeks before re-dyeing your hair. If you can’t stand to wait that long, at least put it off for 2 full weeks. Your future hair will thank you.
How do you know your hair is ready to be dyed again?
First, take a look at your hair. Does it seem dry and fragile? Do you see split ends? Next, comb through your hair. Is it tangly, breaking, or shedding? If the answer is yes, your hair is currently damaged. You should avoid dyeing and heat styling and continue with your hair masks (we recommend Olaplex or simple coconut oil).
There’s also a well-known test you can do to test the strength of your hair. Try this:
- Grab a section of your hair towards the middle or ends of the hair. It should be thick enough that you can’t see through the strands.
- Pull it taut between your fingers.
- Add a drop of water to the hair. It should be big enough that you can see it, but it shouldn’t be enough water to soak your hair.
- Count how many seconds it takes for your hair to absorb the water.
- If your hair takes longer than ten seconds to absorb the water, your hair is probably healthy enough for hair dye.
Unfortunately, if the drop dissolves into the hair in less than ten seconds, you have sustained significant damage to your hair. Don’t worry – the damage won’t last forever, especially if you take good care of your hair. For now, though, you may be better off avoiding dye or bleach.
How often are you supposed to dye your hair?
When you ask a professional how often you should dye your hair, they’ll probably say “between four and six weeks.” It’s enough time for some healthy roots to grow in.
However, the truth is that the 4–6-week rule isn’t right for everyone. Here are some of the factors that will affect your hair health and how often you should dye your hair.
The texture of your hair affects its porosity, or your hair’s ability to retain moisture. More porous hair tends to retain color for longer than less porous hair, which fades quickly.
A blonde woman who has black hair naturally will need a lot of coverage. Red dye also fades more quickly than most other colors. If you have a lot of gray hair, you will need more frequent dye jobs to keep the grays at bay. Every color is different and demands a different level of care.
Type of Dye Used
Every dye has a unique lifespan. Semi-permanent hair dye lasts an average of 28 washes (or about 6-8 weeks). Check the label to see how long your semi-permanent dye should last. Individuals who wash their hair more frequently will see their color fade more quickly than people who wash less.
Permanent dye, on the other hand, does not wash out. It will stick to your hair until you cut it, grow it out, or put a new color over it. Semi-permanent hair dye will require more frequent dyeing, but also causes less damage than a permanent dye.
To avoid over-dyeing your hair, you might consider toning or touching up your color every few weeks, and dyeing it as infrequently as possible.
Does dyeing your hair make it fall out?
Hair dye does not change your natural hair growth, but it damages the existing hair. Unfortunately, the more often you color your hair, the more likely it is to break and fall.
Hair dye contains harmful ingredients like peroxide and ammonia. Ammonia opens the hair cuticle, which allows the peroxide or dye to enter. While this process changes the hair color, it also weakens the hair.
However, dyeing is not the only cause of hair loss. Some of the other factors that play into your hair health include:
- Stress: Hormones have a huge impact on your whole-body health, including your hair health. When hormones are off-balance, hair tends to become dry and thin. For example, when women experience a drop in estrogen (due to childbirth, menopause, or thyroid problems), they may experience hair loss.
- Genetics: Genetics strongly impact your hair texture, volume, and natural growth cycles. Studies have shown that about 80% of hair loss has to do with genetics.
- Whole Body Health: Various medical conditions may cause hair loss, including anemia, thyroid disorders, and psoriasis.
As long as you do not over-dye your hair, you should not experience significant hair loss from dyeing alone.
How to care for damaged hair
If your hair is damaged from hair dye, hot tools, sun exposure, or anything else, here are the best things you can do to minimize hair breakage and fall:
Turn down the heat: Heat is one of the top reasons for ongoing hair damage. Wash your hair in lukewarm water and turn down your hot tools (or even better, put them away). Apply a heat protectant before using hot tools or spending the day in the sun.
Comb before you wash: Combing wet hair can cause more breakage. Comb through your hair before washing it, and then avoid brushing again until after it dries completely.
Moisturize more: Pamper your hair with deep conditioning treatments, hair masks, and leave-in conditioners. Moisture will make all the difference.
Healthy Hair is Beautiful Hair
If you’re not ready to commit to a new color, try a semi-permanent color just in case. Even better, go to a salon professional instead of attempting to dye your hair yourself.
If it’s already too late, don’t worry. Wait as long as possible before re-dyeing your hair (and a bare minimum of two weeks). In the meantime, show your strands a little extra love with no-heat hairstyles and some deep conditioning treatments.