Can You Dye Your Hair Wet ? 5 Things To Seriously Consider

Vivienne OgegaHair ColorLeave a Comment

can you dye your hair wet

You may have noticed that we recently started a series on dyeing hair because we’ve been getting questions such as:

So, we went on a little adventure, digging through google books to find answers.

This extensive research is the basis of this article.  You will find key references linked throughout the article.

A little disclaimer before we get started.

This article is purely based on research and learning from other people’s experiences. We are just as curious as you are and since we’ve gone through the trouble to read through all the available material, why not share it!

Please refer to a professional stylist for more reliable advice on hair coloring.

That said,

Can You Dye Your Hair When It Is Wet?

Technically you can dye your hair when wet but dyeing dry hair is preferred in most instances. Dyeing wet hair may result in a color that is less vibrant, with uneven hues and may not last as long as dyeing dry hair.

If you are going for a subtle hair color, then dyeing wet hair is what you should aim for.  

The cortical cells within the hair structure  provide melanin pigments responsible for color. [1]  

These pigment granules are responsible for the natural hair color and protect the hair from damage caused by sunlight.

During a dye job, dye molecules initiate photochemical reactions to alter the color pigments which can be done on either wet or dry hair. [2]

Therefore, you can dye wet hair however, the color will appear less vibrant as opposed to when dyeing it dry.

Advantages of Dyeing Wet Hair

Can you dye your hair wet

Here are the perks that come with dyeing wet hair.

1. Even distribution

The moisture enables even distribution during application as opposed to dry hair. [3]

Think about it, what do you find easier, applying a leave in on dry hair or on wet/damp hair? I find it easier to apply conditioners or shampoos on damp hair.

The same principal applies here.

Unfortunately, the even distribution does not necessarily mean that you will achieve even hues as we will see in the drawbacks section.

2. Fuller coverage

Wet hair aids in an even distribution of dye and this allows for full coverage unlike when dyeing dry hair which requires you to ensure that each strand of hair is covered in dye. [4]

3. Less messy and easier to dye

Applying dye to wet hair is generally less messy because it is easier to contain the mess when using a squirt top bottle as opposed to a brush and bowl.

Wet hair is also easier to dye because the cuticles are open and thus have a greater absorption and retention ability of the color pigments. This is however only best when you are looking to achieve a temporary hair color alteration.

4. Economical

Arguably,  wet hair requires little dye to cover more surface area thus economical as you will spend on less dye.

5. May result in less chemical damage

Because wet hair promotes the use of less dye, it significantly reduces the chemical damage that may be caused by dye.

Disadvantages of Dyeing Hair When Wet

1. Uneven color application

While wet hair promotes even distribution during the application, it may result in an uneven look because it is a less precise color application.

Therefore, in instances, where your desired outcome is a permanent hair color change, dry hair application is preferred.

Also, some types of dye cannot be applied n wet hair effectively.

For the color to pop and last longer, many stylists recommend that you towel-dry your hair to reduce excess water such that the hair is not soaking wet but damp.

2. Dilutes the dye

While moisture acts as a good protective barrier to the chemical damage caused by dyes, it dilutes the dye making less effective.

3. Short-lived hair color

Hair that is dyed when wet tends to lose color much faster. This is because the color rests on the surface of the hair strands as opposed to getting absorbed into them. This causes the color to fade off quickly.

Tips on How to Dye Wet Hair

If you decide to dye your hair wet, here a few things you need to seriously take into consideration

  1. Ensure the hair is damp not soaking wet
  2. Carry out a patch test before full application to ensure the dye’s safety.
  3. Do not stay with the dye on for too long as it will absorb all the moisture leaving your hair dry and prone to breakage.
  4. Use cold water to shampoo your hair after application to close the cuticles and seal the dye in for a longer-lasting and vibrant look.
  5. Most importantly read and follow the packaging instructions

What Types of Dyes Work Better on Wet Hair?

The general rule is that temporary dyes work better on wet hair.

If you prefer to dye your hair when wet you are required to use either demi-permanent colors, semi-permanent colors, pastel toners, or highlighters.

 Each of these works well with wet hair and the desired results will determine the specific type of dye to use at a particular moment. These types include:

Demi-permanent dyes

These dyes do not contain ammonia but have deposits of it which result in achieving better results. Demi-permanent colors can last up to 30 shampoos.

Notably, although demi-permanent colors can be applied and last longer, the moisture in the hair may dilute it resulting in a color you did not expect. [5]

Semi-permanent Colors

Unlike demi-permanent colors, semi-permanent colors do not contain any ammonia and thus, require to be applied on moist hair as the hair shaft is more open then.

These colors do not stay on hair for long and can only last up to about five washes.

Despite this, they work best on moist hair and are mostly preferred if you want to achieve a strain-resistant color. [6]

Other Temporary Dyes

There are other temporary dyes such as pastel toners and highlighters. They are safe to use on wet hair and achieve great results when applied to wet hair.

Bottom Line

It’s possible to dye wet hair however this may result in a less vibrant color and may not last as long as if you dyed dry hair. Dyeing wet hair is mostly recommended when using temporary colors.

I hope you found this article helpful, if you have further questions you’d like us to research on, feel free to leave a comment.

BTW, did you know hair porosity plays a key role in hair growth? Take this simple hair porosity test to determine if your hair is HIGH, LOW or NORMAL porosity.

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