Should I Condition My Hair Before Coloring? (Expert Tips)

Whether you’re dyeing your hair at the salon or home, it’s on your part to prep your hair as well as possible to ensure that you come closest to the color you have in mind and with minimal damage to your strands. 

So, what’s left to do before the big day of transformation? Is conditioning on the list of things you should do before coloring? If you are wondering, “Should I condition my hair before coloring?” – here’s your answer!

Should I Condition My Hair Before Coloring? 

Yes, it is

absolutely recommended to condition your hair one or a few days before coloring.

The main reason for this is conditioner helps to strengthen the hair strands and minimize damages entailed by the dyeing chemicals. However, you should not use regular conditioners JUST before dyeing your hair!

Why Should Condition Your Hair Before Coloring? 

One of the commonly found detrimental ingredients in hair colorants is ammonia. This element can impair hair structural integrity, which can lead to weak, dry, brittle, and unhealthy-looking strands over time. 

Although you can avoid this chemical by choosing ammonia-free hair dye, beware that it often shows up in permanent hair colors. 

So, what’s the role of ammonia in hair dye formula? Our hair naturally has a PH level anywhere from 4.5 to 5.5, which is on the acidic side of the PH scale. However, our strands need to be alkaline for the hair color to work. 

Ammonia, also known as an alkalizer chemical gas, is what you need to prod your hair’s PH level from the acidic to the alkaline side. 

Normally, the PH can be raised to 10-10.5 after applying a hair dye containing ammonia. It swells the hair strands and opens up the cuticle layers to allow the hair products to penetrate the inner hair structure. 

The thing is, your hair’s structural integrity is also damaged during this chemical process.  Thus, you are left with hair that is more susceptible to dryness, weakening,  breakage, and other external damages. 

It is therefore essential to condition your hair before coloring to minimize the damage. Doing so helps fortify the cuticles, reduce frizz, and smooth your strands, which results in healthier hair. The healthier your strands are, the longer the hair color will last. 

Conditioning The Hair To Help It Ready For Coloring
Conditioning The Hair To Help It Ready For Coloring

What Should You Use To Condition Your Hair? 

While it’s important to condition your hair before dyeing, not every conditioner works to protect your strands and facilitate the dyeing process. 

Normal conditioners are beneficial for your strands if you use them one or a few days before coloring. If these products are used only a few hours or right just before dyeing, they can interrupt your coloring process. 

As mentioned above, ammonia opens up the hair cuticles to let the color molecules penetrate into your hair easily for the desired result. Yet, a regular conditioner might deter that from happening. The result is that the dye fails to deposit evenly on your hair and uneven hair color.

So, what to use if you want to condition your hair just before getting down to the dyeing business? 

Popular oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, … are the most suitable oils for hair before dyeing. Coconut oil is our go-to as it’s very affordable and widely available! It is a highly effective deep conditioner and strengthening treatment before dying.  

Using coconut oil as a pretreatment brings many benefits, including smoothing the cuticles, shielding your strands against harmful chemicals, and promoting color absorption. 

That said, olive or avocado oils are just as effective as a conditioning treatment for dyeing jobs. They contain natural moisturizing ingredients and help your strands retain hydration during and after dyeing. In addition, these natural conditioners do not prevent color molecules from entering the hair shafts, so you’re in the clear while using them!

Coconut Oil Is An Ideal Conditioning Treatment
Coconut Oil Is An Ideal Conditioning Treatment

Tips To Use Coconut Oil For Conditioning Your Hair

  • Put around 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a small bowl and heat it up in the microwave for approximately half a minute. It should be warm and melted to a liquid, but not scorching hot, to open the hair cuticles and allow the molecules to penetrate the hair.
  • Depending on the hair’s length and texture, only use a decent amount to avoid soaking your hair with coconut oil.
  • Condition your hair with coconut oil the night before coloring. If time does not permit, make sure you apply the oil at least three hours before applying the dye to avoid interfering with the dyeing process. 
  • Do not apply the oil to the roots. Normally, this area is sufficiently moisturized by the natural oils from the scalp. Therefore, leave around 2.5 inches from the roots and apply the oil evenly to the remaining hair section. Use fingers to massage the oil into your strands gently. 
  • It is advisable to section your hair and apply the oil in manageable chunks to ensure that every hair is coated. You need to apply more oil where your hair strands are the driest and most damaged (usually on the ends). Use less oil where your strands are healthiest (mid-shaft, for example).
  • The oil won’t corrupt the dyeing job if you follow the 3-hour-before-dyeing rule, so there is no need to rinse your hair. 

When Should You Condition Your Hair Before Dyeing? 

Deep Condition 5 Days Before Dyeing

Deep condition your strands 5 days before coloring to restore the moisture and balance the PH level. It also helps the hair absorb the dye more quickly. The result is that your hair will look bright and not fade. 

Use Deep-Conditioning Treatment For Your Hair 5 Days Before Dyeing
Use Deep-Conditioning Treatment For Your Hair 5 Days Before Dyeing

Light Condition The Night Before Dyeing

The night before coloring, you can use clarifying shampoo to wash off product buildups and condition your hair as normal.   

If you feel the hair is dry and damaged, you can take a step further and condition your strands. As mentioned, the ideal conditioner for this job is coconut oil since it’s organic and unharmful to the dyeing process. 

First, cover your hair with some coconut oil and leave it overnight or at least 3 hours before coloring. Then, apply the dye with the oil still in your hair.

Pro Tips On Prepping Your Hair Before Dying 

Keep Your Hair Healthy

The key to achieving a great coloring result is to keep your strands healthy. Strong and healthy strands will take on the dye better, and they’ll look more vibrant and shiny.

For this reason, make sure you treat your hair right with the appropriate hair styling products and shampoos, skip heat styling as much as possible, and apply hair treatment at least once a month. 

Remove The Buildup

It is advisable to wash your hair with clarifying shampoo before coloring, especially when you’re going to make a big change (going from dark to light, for example). 

The idea of clarifying shampoo is to remove any buildup in your hair. Otherwise, buildup such as mineral deposits from hair care products and water can fade the color to some extent. 

Use Clarifying Shampoo To Eliminate Buildups
Use Clarifying Shampoo To Eliminate Buildups

If you do not have a clarifying shampoo at hand, you can mix your normal shampoo with baking soda or apple cider vinegar. This should be done a week before you head to the salon. After shampooing, condition your hair just as usual. 

Do Not Shampoo The Day Before Coloring

Nevertheless, skip shampoo the day you dye your hair. The shampoo will prevent your strands from making the color better.

In addition, you also keep the natural oils to protect your scalp against irritation caused by harmful ingredients in the hair dye box. 

Seek Professional Help

Suppose you’re after something entirely different from your natural hair color or more complex such as highlights.

In that case, you may want to turn to professional colorists for advice to avoid costly mistakes later. The cost of color correction is expensive, after all!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Better To Deep Condition Hair Before Or After Dying?

Deep conditioning is advisable both before and after dyeing your hair.

Apply a deep conditioner 5 days before hitting the salon. This will prep your hair well for the chemical process.

After 3-5 days of coloring, deep condition your mane once again to seal the hue. 

When Should You Deep-Condition Hair After Dying It?

Moisture is crucial following any chemical process. Insufficient moisture will cause hair to become dry, over-porous, and more prone to the damage of chemicals. 

Hence, deep conditioning is a good practice after any permanent chemical dye to lock moisture into the locks. 

It is not recommended to deep condition your strands right after coloring. Dyeing your hair opens up the cuticles; that’s why you need to make sure that they close back down. 

Instead, hair experts advise that you should wait for 3 to 5 days to reduce the risk of new hair color fading out. 

Can I Dye My Hair With A Conditioner In It?

If you want the conditioner to protect your strands against toxic chemicals in dye, directly mixing it with hair dye cannot help you achieve that goal. Simply put, the conditioner can only impair the PH-modifying process of ammonia and lead to bad hair dye jobs.

Yet, people usually mix conditioners with hair dye to achieve a softer, more muted color, especially with fantasy colors. 

For example, a strong, vibrant electric violet can turn into a soft lavender hue if you include a small amount of conditioner in the formula. You’ll notice that the harshness and intensity of the fantasy dyes will be slightly reduced with the presence of a conditioner. 

Can Hair Products Interfere With The Coloring Process?

It’s worth being mindful of the hair products you use before coloring. Dry shampoo, for example, does not corrupt the dyeing process; it does alter the texture of your hair and thus affects the colorist’s technique. 

If texturizing sprays, anti-frizz serums, or heat styling tools are on your daily schedule, then wear and use all of them as normal when you’re going to the salon. All of these factors affect how the colorist places the color. 


Should I condition my hair before coloring? The answer is an absolute Yes to get your hair ready for the chemical process. Yet, you should be mindful of the right timing to use normal conditioners and natural ones such as coconut or olive oils. 

You can condition your hair just as usual one day or a few days before dyeing, but do not do so a few hours before you get started to apply the dye onto your strands. On the other hand, natural conditioners are beneficial if used the night before or a few hours before coloring.  

Remember these rules so you can make the most out of either normal or natural conditioners. 

Coconut oil is always a nice way to strengthen your strands, especially when you don’t have time and skip the deep conditioning. 

Because it is packed with nutrients and most importantly, moisturizing agents, this oil would be your uncanny weapon to help you get healthy hair even after going through the dyeing process!


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