As a general rule, you can safely dye your hair every four to six weeks, but how often you should dye your hair depends on a few factors and personal preferences. From the coloring process you use, your hair porosity, and how often you wash your hair to whether you visit a colorist or try a DIY box dye, your hair care routine and type of hair all influence how often you should dye your hair.
Even gentle or temporary hair dye formulas can leave hair feeling dry and brittle if used too often. So this post covers what to consider when dyeing your hair so you can change up your style without damaging your strands.
How often can you dye your hair by dye type?
The type of dye you use to color your hair has a significant impact on how often you can or should dye your hair. If you’re using temporary or semi-permanent hair dyes, you may get away with dyeing your hair more often than with a permanent dye.
These sections cover some of the most common dye types and how to use them safely.
Temporary hair color
Of all color methods, temporary hair color lasts the shortest time — it usually washes out after one to two washes. It works on the surface of the hair, adding a sheer color. You might wish the color would last a little longer, but it’s probably the safest dye for your hair outside the hair salon.
You can safely re-dye your hair with temporary hair color every week or so. Using a shampoo for color-treated hair may help the color last longer and reduce the amount you have to re-dye.
Semi-permanent hair color
Semi-permanent hair color is also temporary but lasts a bit longer than temporary hair color — usually about four to six washes, with some products stating up to 12. It doesn’t contain chemicals like ammonia or peroxide and doesn’t lighten hair, so, while it fades more quickly than a permanent dye, it’s also safer to use on fragile, damaged, permed, or relaxed hair.
Some semi-permanent hair-coloring products might last longer than others. For example:
- Tintation by Red by Kiss lasts eight to 12 washes
- Clairol lasts four to 12 washes
- Kristin Ess hair gloss lasts up to three to four weeks
Demi-permanent hair color
While semi-permanent dye sits on the hair’s surface, demi-permanent hair color goes a little deeper. It’s deposit only, meaning it penetrates the hair shaft, but it doesn’t contain any chemicals to lighten hair — you can only dye to your natural hair color or go darker. Although demi-permanent dyes contain some ingredients that can damage your hair, they’re less damaging than permanent dyes.
Demi-permanent hair color lasts a bit longer, usually up to 24 washes. Jamie Mazzei, creative director for NuBest Salon & Spa says, “You can do demi-permanent every four weeks and still maintain the health of your hair.”
Permanent hair color
Unlike all the previous color treatments, permanent hair color is meant to last. It changes the structure of your hair to give a different hair color. Permanent dyes work through chemicals, like ammonia and peroxide, that opens the hair cuticle to let your chosen color into the follicle and are less damaging to your hair than bleach.
You can’t wash out permanent hair color, and it never totally leaves your hair, but it does fade over time and requires touch-ups to maintain. It can last up to four to six weeks before you need a root touch-up because of hair regrowth or gray hairs that begin showing.
Similar to permanent hair color, bleach permanently changes the structure of your hair. It’s a chemical process that strips away your natural hair color to lighten the shade, from blonde to platinum. Results tend to be better for people with naturally light hair colors.
It can’t be washed out, so if you miss your old color, you’d either have to re-dye it or wait for it to grow out. It’s safe to touch-up your roots every four to six weeks.
What impacts the longevity of hair dye?
Several factors can impact the longevity of your hair dye: the color, heat tool use, your hair porosity, your hair health, and even how often you wash your hair.
Take these factors into account when planning on dyeing your hair.
Hair dye color
Your current hair color, whether it’s your natural hair color or not, really impacts how well a dye or color treatment takes to your tresses. For example, if you have naturally dark hair, lightening it might be really difficult. Dark hair dyes will typically last longer than lighter hair dyes because they have more pigments.
Heat can be useful in the dyeing process — it opens up the hair cuticle, giving you more vibrancy and colorfastness. However, it’s also a primary culprit of hair damage. Using heat styling tools on your dyed hair too often makes the color more likely to fade because it can destroy the color molecules.
If you can’t live without your straightener or curler, using a heat protectant may help you keep your color longer and save you from split ends.
Hair porosity refers to how well your hair can absorb and hold moisture, which also impacts how well it holds color. You can figure out the porosity of your own hair just by feeling. Generally, low porosity hair is smooth, and high porosity hair is bumpy.
Having low porosity hair means:
- Your hair doesn’t absorb hair treatments as easily because the hair cuticles are closer together.
- Your dye jobs take longer because the dye needs more time to penetrate the hair cuticle.
Having high porosity hair means:
- Your hair absorbs water and hair treatments more easily because the hair cuticles are far apart.
- Your hair doesn’t retain moisture as well and might be damaged more easily by color treatments.
Washing your hair frequently makes hair color fade faster. To maintain your hair color, go at least 2 to 4 days without washing your hair if you have fine hair, and 5 to 10 days without washing if your hair is thicker.
Holding off on washing means you’ll have longer periods before you have to re-dye or get a touch-up. A deep-conditioning product or a shampoo for color treated hair can also help preserve your color through washes.
Tips to extend the life of your hair color
You can do a lot to keep your hair shiny and vibrant between dye jobs, and the less you have to re-dye, the better it is for your hair health.
Follow these tips to make your color last:
- Limit heat on your hair. Heat oxidizes color molecules, making your hair color fade faster. Avoiding heat styling tools, or using them with a heat protectant, can help you keep your color.
- Use heat-protectant products. If you have to use heat on your hair, using a heat protectant creates a barrier between your strands and the heat, locking in moisture and saving you from hair damage.
- Avoid hot showers. Overwashing your hair, as a general rule, makes your color fade way faster. Combine that with hot water temperatures and you have a recipe for color loss.
- Use color-safe products. Color-safe products are usually free of harsh chemicals that would cause your color to fade.
- Try hair masks. A deep-conditioning hair mask can hydrate and strengthen your hair, protecting your hair color and helping you avoid issues like frizz and breakage.
- Nourish your hair with a hair gloss. A treatment formulated for color-treated hair, hair gloss helps refresh your hair color while strengthening your strands.
You don’t always need to re-dye your hair to get long-lasting color — healthy hair is key. When it comes to re-dyeing, although you won’t find a magic number to get the best results, talking to your hairstylist about your specific hair needs is a good place to start. If you can find a hairstylist or colorist that can help you change your style or maintain your vibrant color, StyleSeat can help get you connected.