How Often Should You Dye Your Hair? Plus, Color Maintenance Tips
There's nothing quite like the feeling of leaving the hair salon with a new and improved color. Whether you're going from dark to light, light to dark, refreshing your go-to tone, or getting highlights, it's easy to feel on top of the world.
However, these dye jobs shouldn't happen too frequently; otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your hair and being left with dull, sensitive strands. To come, pros explain how to space out your appointments to ensure your hair remains in tiptop shape.
How often should you dye your hair?
The quick answer: "When ammonia or any harsh chemicals are present in the color you're using, a good rule of thumb is at most four to six weeks," says celebrity hairstylist and colorist Jonathan Colombini.
However, this becomes much more nuanced when you add in factors like bleach. Below, find a brief guide:
For single process & grays
A single process refers to any color job that's done in one step. Most often these will include a base color or root touch-up. "This depends on how much gray someone has and how fast the hair grows. I recommend every four weeks for this process," says colorist and founder of LRN Beauty Lauren Paglionico.
"Any sooner, and you could overlap the existing color and end up with a dark band. It can also make the hair look inky, like shoe polish," she adds.
Keep in mind that single-process treatments are not the same as a hair gloss or glaze (more on that in a bit).
For highlights & balayage
If you opt for highlights or balayage, you'll be exposing your strands to bleach—so take extra caution. "Bleach is one of the strongest chemically driven coloring products to use," Colombini says.
"So it's very important to not use too often or you'd experience breakage. Bleach is to be used at max every eight to 10 weeks and only on new outgrowth," he adds.
If you have breakage-prone strands, consider spacing out your bleach treatments even more, and opt for a look that can easily grow out without looking choppy, like a balayage.
"A double process is a bleach-on-root application, also known as a global application. This process should be done every three to four weeks or when you have ½ an inch of regrowth," Paglionico says. "This needs to be done more often because the bleach is applied directly to the scalp, which warms up the bleach and helps it to develop faster."
"If you wait too long, the temperature drops and the hair may not get as light as the last application. This can create a warm band," she adds.
However, this process is very demanding and puts your hair at risk for more breakage, Paglionico notes. Translation: Double-process jobs aren't the best idea for anyone with brittle strands already.
How to make your hair dye last longer
To ensure your color lasts as long as possible and continues to look fresh, consider the following tips:
- Look for color-safe products: One of the most important steps is to check that your shampoo and conditioner are color-safe. This rule also applies to hair masks, leave-in treatments, clarifying shampoos, etc.
- Always use heat protectants: "Using a heat protectant before blow-drying and using hot tools is also important because it creates a barrier between the heat and your hair," Paglionico says.
- Invest in bond-building treatments: When selecting a shampoo and conditioner, look for bond-building formulas. Colombini's recommendation: the L'Oreal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Bond Strengthening Shampoo and Conditioner Kit
- Try a gloss: For color refresh between appointments, try an at-home gloss or glaze treatment. Or, get a professional gloss treatment done. "Not only do gloss treatments refresh and revive color, but they protect the color by sealing the cuticle, creating a smoother, healthier barrier for the hair," says color specialist at Nunzio Saviano Salon Abby Amparan.
- Rinse with cold water: "Always finish out your hair wash with cool water to help close the cuticle and scalp pores to prevent hair loss and help the appearance of great-looking hair," Amparan says.
While everyone's hair needs are different, it's a safe bet that dyeing your hair too often will create damage. As a general rule, wait four to six weeks in between appointments and eight weeks before applying more bleach. For more ways to encourage shiny hair between appointments, check out this guide.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.