When To Wash Hair Before Color Or Highlights

Getting your hair colored or highlighted can be an exciting way to transform your look and add a fresh touch to your appearance.

However, many people wonder about the right time to wash their hair before getting a color treatment.

This article aims to guide you through the best practices for washing your hair before color or highlights to ensure optimal results and maintain the health of your hair.

When To Wash Hair Before Color Or Highlights

1. Understanding the Importance of Clean Hair

Before scheduling a color or highlights appointment, it’s essential to understand why clean hair is crucial for the process. Clean hair allows the color to adhere better and evenly, leading to a more vibrant and long-lasting result.

Moreover, washing your hair helps remove any product buildup, dirt, or excess oil, ensuring a fresh canvas for your colorist to work with.

2. Washing Frequency

Determining when to wash your hair before color depends on your hair type and washing frequency. If you wash your hair daily, it’s best to shampoo your hair the day before your appointment.

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For those with oily scalps, washing the night before helps prevent the color from slipping or not adhering evenly.

3. Avoid Washing Right Before the Appointment

Avoid washing your hair on the day of the color treatment. Natural oils produced by your scalp act as a protective barrier, making it easier for the color to bond with your hair.

Washing your hair right before the appointment might make it more challenging for the color to penetrate the hair shaft, leading to less desirable results.

4. The 24 to 48 Hours Rule

One of the most common recommendations by colorists is to wait for 24 to 48 hours after the color treatment before shampooing your hair again.

This time frame allows the color molecules to be fully set and ensures the longevity of your color or highlights.

5. Moisture Balance

Maintaining the moisture balance in your hair is vital before color application. If your hair is too dry or damaged, the color may not turn out as expected.

On the other hand, overly moisturized hair can prevent the color from bonding effectively. Strike a balance by using hydrating masks or conditioners as needed in the days leading up to your appointment.

6. Avoid Heavy Styling Products

In the 24 to 48 hours before your color appointment, avoid using heavy styling products such as gels, waxes, or hairsprays.

These products can create a barrier on the hair strands, making it challenging for the color to penetrate evenly.

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7. Pre-Color Consultation

Before your appointment, consider having a pre-color consultation with your stylist.

This discussion will help you understand the entire process, assess your hair’s condition, and determine the best approach for your desired color or highlights.

8. Use a Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Sulfates are harsh chemicals found in many shampoos, and they can strip the hair of its natural oils and color. Switching to a sulfate-free shampoo can help preserve your hair color and improve the overall health of your hair.

9. Clarifying Shampoo

If you have a lot of product buildup or are going from dark to light hair, consider using a clarifying shampoo a week before your appointment.

This will remove any excess residue and create a clean slate for your colorist to work on.

10. Protect Your Hair from the Sun

After getting your hair colored or highlighted, it’s essential to protect it from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Use a hat or a UV protection spray to prevent color fading and maintain the vibrancy of your new hair color.

11. Deep Conditioning After Color

Once you’ve had your color or highlights done, deep conditioning your hair regularly will help keep it healthy and vibrant.

Colored hair tends to be more prone to dryness, and deep conditioning treatments can replenish moisture and maintain shine.

12. Listen to Your Stylist’s Advice

Your stylist is an expert in hair care and color treatments. Listen to their advice and follow their instructions on how to care for your newly colored hair.

They may recommend specific products or treatments to help maintain your hair’s health and color.

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13. Embrace the Change

Getting your hair colored or highlighted can be a transformative experience. Embrace the change and enjoy your new look with confidence.

A positive mindset can enhance your overall experience and make you fall in love with your hair all over again.


Choosing when to wash your hair before getting a color or highlights treatment is essential for achieving the best results.

Clean hair that is neither too dry nor too oily provides an optimal canvas for color application.

Following the advice of your stylist and taking proper care of your newly colored hair will ensure long-lasting and vibrant results.


Is it necessary to wash my hair before getting highlights?

Washing your hair before highlights helps remove dirt and oils, making it easier for the color to adhere evenly. However, avoid washing on the day of the appointment.

**Can I shampoo my hair after getting highlights?

It’s best to wait for 24 to 48 hours after getting highlights before shampooing to allow the color to set properly.

How can I maintain my colored hair’s vibrancy?

Use sulfate-free shampoos, deep condition regularly, and protect your hair from the sun to maintain vibrant hair color.

Can I go from dark to light hair in one session?

Going from dark to light hair often requires multiple sessions to achieve the desired result without damaging the hair.

Why is a pre-color consultation necessary?

A pre-color consultation helps you understand the process and allows the stylist to assess your hair’s condition for the best color outcome.