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  • Robert Dockstader

To Wash or Not To Wash.



Is it necessary to wash your hair before having color services? This is a question I get a lot and there are many factors that come in to play here but the simplest answer to this question is YES!


This notion of "the dirtier the hair, the better the color" dates back to when hair colors were more aggressive and harsh and "bleaching" your hair could be quite irritating to your scalp. A little natural oil on the scalp helped to calm the itch and prevent staining. With todays technology, manufacturers are creating gentler color products for client comfort and safety, which in turn work better on cleaner hair.


The misconception that dirty hair will make the color take better is simply not true. Although having your bodies natural oils on your scalp (within reason) will create a protective barrier so your scalp doesn't get irritated**. When you remove that layer, your body will reproduce that protective barrier 12 to 24 hours after washing your hair. So waiting days or weeks without washing your hair before a color service is simply giving your hair a dirty look, feel and sometimes odor which may not be apparent to you but it's definitely noticeable to those around you.

  • **A little more on irritation. If you wash your hair the morning of or just before coming to your hair appointment for color, you should expect there to be some tingling or itching . That is why 12 to 24hrs before is best. If you ever feel a burning sensation that can be a sign of an allergic reaction and you should let your stylist know immediately.


Ideally your hair should be free of oils (coconut, olive, massage), heavy styling products, roots cover sprays, layers upon layers of hair spray, dry shampoo, or days/weeks of not washing your hair and you have A LOT of excess oil. All of this could create a barrier that can prevent color from penetrating the hair and ultimately in grays hairs not covered or not getting the color you were looking for.


Another issue with arriving to your hair appointment with dirty/oily hair is that it can actually make your hair appear darker than it really is. Why is that an issue? If you are sitting in my chair for the very first time for color, or a current client looking to make a change, the first thing that I am going to look at is the natural level of your roots... not the middle of your hair, not the ends, the roots. If I see your hair as a dark blonde or brown because it is dirty, the color formula will be based on that and will result in the wrong color formulation.


Here are some tips to prepare your hair for the for the best color service:

  1. Wash your hair 12 to 24 hours before your color. This will assure the hair is clean, but allow the oil in your scalp to create a protective barrier against irritation and staining.

  2. Gently wash the hair, don’t aggressively scratch the scalp. Breaking the skin or scratches will definitely burn or tingle with color or bleach.

  3. If you just worked out before your appointment wash your hair. Excessively oily hair lifts poorly, processes slowly, and doesn’t color well.

  4. If you are trying to hide your roots in between your appointments and use a root cover spray, make sure any cover up products you use are out before you get to the salon. Otherwise you may not get coverage where you want it most.

  5. The same goes for dry shampoo. It can create a barrier that color doesn’t penetrate well.

  6. Shampoo especially well if you use oil in your hair such as coconut oil or olive oil. Heavy oil products make the color ineffective, and make highlights bleed all over the place.

  7. Styling products are generally OK, unless you use loads of them. Hairspray can be brushed out before the service, and most non oily products are fine.

  8. Come with dry hair, or arrive early to have it dried under a dryer, While color takes fine on damp hair, damp hair pulls a lot when your sectioning and you will be much more comfortable starting with a dry head of hair.


If you are unable to wash your hair prior to the appointment we can always wash it for you by adding a shampoo service to your appointment.

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