Can I Use Hair Dye On Oily Hair? All You Need To Know

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You’ve bought your box color and you’re ready to dye your hair. But should you wash your hair first or leave it? In this article, we explore whether it’s OK to use hair dye on oily hair.

Can I Use Hair Dye On Oily Hair

Should I Wash My Hair Before Dyeing It?

You should aim to have washed your hair around twenty-four to forty-eight hours prior to applying any dye. Avoid washing hair on the day of your salon visit (or the day you’re planning to self-dye your locks).

Why? Most hair dyes are actually designed for application on slightly dirty hair, as that little bit of oil helps the color to spread evenly and will protect your scalp.

Whether you should have oily hair when planning to dye it is also dependent on the type of hair dye you’re going to use.

If you aim to use a semi, demi, or permanent hair dye with a developer that is less than 20% (the side of the box will tell you the percentage level), then it’s advisable to use a clarifying shampoo the day before you plan to color.

When developers have less peroxide in them (less than 20%), they are less powerful, and any oil or grease in the hair may interrupt the coloring process.

The clarifying shampoo will remove any build-up, which will, in turn, help the dye better penetrate the hair.

If you’re aiming to use intense bleach or permanent hair dye with a developer higher than 20%, having oily hair is preferable.

Can I Use Hair Dye On Oily Hair?

The answer is yes, you can use hair dye on oily hair. However, the color in the dye can become diluted if hair is too greasy. 1-2 days of unwashed hair is fine but anything longer than that will result in too oily hair.

Your scalp naturally builds up a certain amount of residue. This comes from a combination of dead skin cells, sweat, and product buildup. Your scalp also creates a natural waxy oil known as sebum.

Sebum is essential to the balance of your skin and hair. It creates a natural protective layer, preventing damage from pollution and chemicals and thereby minimizing the risk of infection.

Some people, however, experience excess sebum production, which may result in oilier, greasier hair.

Before dyeing your hair, you actually want there to be a certain level of oil and sebum in order to protect both your locks and scalp from the effect of the dye.

This is because hair dyes are made up of chemicals and, no matter how you swing it, they may therefore end up causing some hair damage.

The oil in your hair will help to protect against any irritation, damage, or discomfort. It will also help your hair maintain more moisture, meaning that your ends won’t be dry and prone to breakage.

What’s more, if you’re aiming to lighten your hair from its natural tone, leaving oil in your hair can help this lightening process.

Plus, if your hair is too clean, it’s actually harder to color, as hairdressers struggle to get hold of the strands. The ideal amount of oil is when your hair feels soft, but doesn’t look or feel too slick.

How To Reduce Oil In Hair

Inevitably, only you will know how prone your hair is to becoming oily. This will be genetically determined, but there are some steps that you can take to minimize build-up in your scalp and hair.

If you overbrush your hair or fuss with it, you’ll actually make it more oily. Brushing your hair stimulates the scalp to release sebum, and if you run dirty hands through your hair, you’re only adding extra grease.

Avoiding products with ingredients like silicones, phthalates, mineral oils, petroleum oils, sulfates, and parabens is also a good idea.

There’s plenty of controversy over the use of these ingredients in hair care, but if your scalp is vulnerable to excess oil, adding chemicals to the mix can only exacerbate existing problems.

Look for all-natural products without these added chemicals.

If you’re finding that your hair is more greasy than normal, be sure to investigate the products you’re using.

Maybe you’ve just mixed up your shampoo or conditioner, and your hair just isn’t feeling it. Trial and error can help you establish why your hair might be oily – particularly if your natural state isn’t super greasy.

Also Read: How To Use Coconut Oil Before Bleaching Your Hair

What Happens If I Dye My Hair When It’s Very Greasy?

What Happens If I Dye My Hair When It’s Very Greasy

If your hair is very greasy, the hair dye just won’t hold.

Permanent hair color needs to penetrate into your hair shaft, which it can’t do if there’s so much oil that it blocks the saturation process.

Temporary hair color similarly needs to be able to latch onto your hair strands – and extra oil prevents it from doing so.

If you do use hair dye on overly greasy hair, the dye will spread unevenly. It will look either blotchy or faded, as it can’t achieve ideal vibrancy when excess oil disrupts the dyeing process. Be aware that this looks particularly bad on gray hair and on roots.

In fact, too much grease can lower the pH level of hair dye, which will totally impact its overall coloring effect.

Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take if you have extremely greasy hair but are still keen to dye it.

Baby Powder

It’s not just for babies! Gentle enough to not cause a reaction or impact the way that the dye penetrates the hair, baby powder is a lifesaver for those with very greasy locks.

Sprinkle some on your roots before you plan to dye hair, and brush it gently through, right to the ends of your strands. It will help to absorb excess oil.

Rinse Hair

If your hair gets very greasy and shiny after a wash, you can quickly rinse hair before applying hair dye.

The water might help to remove any oil sitting on your strands and scalp, which will then help the color apply better.

Wash And Condition Hair Before Coloring

If you wash and condition your hair one day (twenty-four hours) before you plan to color your hair, the conditioner will help to strengthen strands and retain moisture, and your natural oil levels will be reduced.

Just be sure to check that the hair dye you intend to use is okay for usage with conditioner.

Can I Dye My Hair With Products In It?

As long as your products aren’t oil-based, you should be okay.

Oil-based products are harder to remove from your strands, but other styling products will likely be fine.

The main thing to test is whether or not the product brushes easily out of your hair. If it does, then great, it will be fine to use alongside hair dye, as you can brush out most of it before applying color.

Hairspray, for example, will likely be fine, as will hair creams. Avoid sprays that cover roots, as these don’t easily brush out, and avoid dry shampoo.

Dry shampoo creates a barrier between your hair and anything applied to it – not ideal if you’re trying to dye your locks!

It’s also actually a better idea to leave the products and styling tools alone prior to getting your hair colored.

If you change your style up, you shift the natural lights and shadows in your hair. Stylists prefer for you to leave your locks as natural as possible pre-treatment so that they can get a better idea of how the color needs to be applied for the best possible look.

So, some products are fine to use alongside hair dye, but just be sure that they brush out of your hair with ease. Definitely avoid anything oil-based.

Also Read: How To Dilute Hair Dye Without Conditioner (Easy Guide)

How To Best Prepare Hair For Coloring

There are several steps that you can take in order to best prepare your hair for coloring.

No Over-Washing – But No Excess Grease

You want to ensure that your hair is not newly washed before dyeing it, as this makes the process more difficult and means there’s a less natural protection from the chemicals in the dye.

Use a gentle shampoo to deeply cleanse your scalp without stripping any moisture, and be sure you don’t scrub so hard that you cause damage.

A clarifying shampoo is also good, as it will balance your hair’s porosity, meaning that the dye will spread evenly.

However, you want to ensure your hair isn’t too greasy, either, as the grease will reduce the dye’s impact. It’s all about balance.

Use The Right Products

As described above, to ensure the all-around health and happiness of your hair – not to mention shine, softness, and elasticity – it’s best to use ingredients with as few chemicals as possible.

All-natural products that are cruelty-free are the way to go for your hair health.

Use A Hot Oil Treatment Prior To Coloring

The chemicals in hair dye can be extremely harsh and may strip your hair of its moisture, making it more prone to dryness, frizz, and breakage.

The solution is to deeply nourish and moisturize your locks prior to your color treatment. A hot oil treatment hydrates deeply, preparing each strand to best take on color.

This is like performing damage control before you actually cause any damage!

How To Care For Color Treated Hair

How To Care For Color Treated Hair

Deep Condition After Treatment

Those chemicals in your hair dye will have somewhat tried and tested your hair strands. Nourish them with a deep conditioning treatment or masque, and watch your locks come back to life.

Look for products with high levels of water – an essential humectant that draws moisture into strands. Oils like argan, coconut, and olive oil are also fantastic for sealing strands, and ingredients like shea butter or coconut butter will intensely moisturize.

Sun Protection

Yes, your hair needs protection from the sun too. Look for products specifically designed with UV protection to spritz over your locks.

It’ll prevent your scalp from experiencing sun damage, and will ensure your color has longevity.

Color Haircare Products

After having spent all that time and money investing in your newly dyed hair, what would be the point in abandoning care after treatment?

Be sure to invest in hair care products that are designed to maintain your new color and minimize brassiness or fading.


Leave your hair for at least 48 hours before washing it after a color treatment. That way, you’re helping the dye really penetrate and/or take hold of your strands, which will keep the color lasting for as long as possible.

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