My Permanent Hair Color Is Washing Out? What to Do Now

You did the research. You worked hard to find the best permanent hair color. Plus, the process probably took between two to four hours.

You did all this because you wanted your hair color to last for a long time, but that’s not happening. For some reason, your permanent hair color is washing out, and you don’t know what to do.

If you’re sitting there bobbing your head in agreement, then you know what I went through. Well, after going through that, I wanted to know what happened. The following explores what I learned.

Why Did My Hair Color Wash Out?

This was the first question I had. I found out there are a lot of reasons why this could happen and why it might be happening to you. The following are some reasons:

Did You Overlook the Exposure Time?

I did this one. I wasn’t patient enough with the hair color dye. The box tells you to leave it on for a long time to allow the permanent hair color to set in, but I couldn’t take it.

There was a lot to do, and I had a few appointments to get to, so I decided to cut the hair coloring time short, which is the reason my permanent hair color didn’t last as long as it should have. Be sure to leave the hair dye on for the recommended time.

Did You Ignore the Hair Pre-Washing Rules?

Well, I didn’t know about this one either. Apparently, you have to wash your hair before you dye your hair.

You can’t wash it the day of or the day before you dye your hair. You also can’t let your hair get too dirty.

You want to wash your hair two days before your dye job, and the reason has to do with the oil your scalp produces.

If you wash your hair the day of the color job, you won’t have any oil. Your hair won’t be ready to absorb the dye; it’ll be too dry. If you allow too much of this oil to build up around your hair strands, then the oil will effectively seal your hair strands.

When this happens, the hair dye will simply not penetrate your hair strands deep enough to allow the color to take hold. You’ll see the hair color wash out soon if you don’t follow these hair pre-washing rules, but thankfully, you know what they are now.

Having a little oil also protects your hair from the corrosive nature of permanent hair dyes.

Did You Overlook the Hair Dye Mixture Instructions?

Those working with a hair specialist probably don’t have to worry about the hair color mixture ratio because these folks probably won’t make a mistake.

Those who are doing this on their own will have to make sure you’re following the hair color box instructions.

Usually, you’re asked to follow a 1:1 ratio, but some hair color dyes ask for a 1:2 ratio. Read the instructions carefully and follow them. The reason some folks overlook this is that they want to save some of the dye to touch their hair up next time.

I get it. These hair color dyes can be expensive, and you’ll need to color your hair again. Using a box more than once makes sense, but if you do anything like this, the hair color will fade prematurely.

Did You Wash Your Hair Too Quickly After Dyeing?

One big step to take is to avoid washing your hair for two to three days after the color treatment.

If you decide to wash your hair before that, you risk weakening your hair’s hold on the dye.

Don’t do that to yourself, and wait to wash your hair when you’re supposed to. If you can go for three days, then do so. If you can go further, then consider doing that, too.

It’s important to remember that the less you wash your hair the better. Consider styles that make it easy to hide that you haven’t washed your hair, like ponytails or maybe wearing hats.

When you wash your hair, maybe use dry hair shampoo instead of washing it. At some point, you will have to wash, but be sure that you use hair color shampoo or no shampoo at all if you can get away with it.

Do not use hot water because that weakens the color pigments in your hair. Stick to lukewarm water or, better yet, cold water to protect your hair color.

Did You Forget That Heat Isn’t Your Hair?

A lot of people forget that heat isn’t your friend when you just dyed your hair. As mentioned earlier, heat weakens your hair’s hold on the color pigments.

The problem is that heat can come from all sorts of sources you might not even think about.

Sure, you already know you can’t wash your hair with hot water, but you also can’t go outside and be in the sun for too long. Consider wearing a hat or using an umbrella to protect your hair.

It may be a good idea also to wear sunscreen when you’re going to be out in the sun. You also want to limit the number of times you use a blow dryer.

If you do use one, make sure you put it on the lowest setting to protect your hair color. Failing to do this means you’ll probably lose your hair color.

When you use the blow dryer, use the cooling setting to help your hair cool down a bit and protect your dye. Do your best to eliminate or minimize the number of times you use your flat iron, which can do a lot of damage to your freshly-colored hair.

Is It Possible That the Pool Did This to You?

Chlorinated water is the norm in any public pool. This is necessary to keep the water clean and to keep algae from growing, but it can also hurt your hair.

Your hair color may fade if you swim in this kind of water. Stay away from chlorinated water, and you’ll maintain your hair color for as long as possible. If you must go, rinse your hair in cold water before jumping in. This might prevent the hair from absorbing so much chlorine.

If you want to go for a swim, go to a natural body of water, like a river or lake.

Are You Using the Wrong Hair Products?

I know it sounds like I’m blaming you, but I’m not. The truth is that most people don’t know that we’re using a hair care product that could work against hair dye. Those companies won’t tell you to not use their products.

It’s in their best interest that you never find out so that you continue using them. You want shampoos, conditioners, mousses, and whatever else you use to play nice with your dyed hair.

Stay away from products with things like silicones or sulfates. Basically, look for products with natural ingredients. When in doubt, talk to your hair care specialist to see if he or she has some advice for you.

What Can You Do Now That Your Hair Color is Washing Out?

Well, you can do a few things if this happens to you. The first thing I did was this. I tried to understand why it was washing out so that it doesn’t happen to me again.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like spending more money dyeing my hair than I need to. Don’t get me wrong. I’m definitely worth the investment, but no one likes to waste their money, right?

The thing is you already did that. You’re here learning why this could have happened, and hopefully, this helps modify the way you use your dye and the way you treat your hair afterward. Besides all this, you can also do the following:

  • Get better permanent hair color.
  • Work with a professional next time.
  • Adopt some of the aforementioned tips.
  • Try to dye your hair again.

These are some things you need to know to figure out why your permanent hair color is washing out. If you follow these suggestions, your hair color should last much longer.

Also, make sure you’re buying permanent hair color rather than short-term hair color options. You’ll be surprised, but some people make this mistake because they didn’t read the box well enough.

Joy-Lee Founder and writer of


Hi, my name is Joy-Lee and I'm the owner of As you might've noticed, I'm a true beauty lover, and made it my passion, my work and my hobby. I love sharing my thoughts and feelings on a variety of beauty aspects and want to thank you for reading!