Skip to Content

Can You Dye Wet Hair? | Yes, But Not in All Cases

It can be hard finding a hairstylist on the spur of the moment. Usually, to get your hair dyed professionally, you must wait for an appointment or find someone who takes walk-ins — which is rare for hair coloring experts. 

Can You Dye Wet Hair? A Summary

Yes, you can dye your hair while it’s wet. Though dyeing wet hair requires a few rules and depends on what you’re doing and using. We’ll show you the fine details below.

Wet Hair vs. Dry Hair Pros and Cons

Some hair stylists recommend dyeing your hair while it’s wet. So, why do experts and labels always say, ‘ensure your hair is dry before dyeing?’ For many reasons, it’s best to dye your hair while it’s dry.

Although, there are also benefits to dyeing your hair while it’s wet. Let’s first take a look at the pros and cons. 

Dyeing Wet Hair Pros

  • Use less. Water adds moisture to your hair, so adding color to wet hair will distribute the color evenly throughout your hair, so you will end up using less product.
  • Subtle finished appearance. When your hair is wet and you add dye, it creates a subtle approach because it absorbs more color – giving your ends a nice pop and a balayage effect throughout your hair. 
  • Less messy and simple. When dyeing your hair dry, you need a brush and sometimes a bottle. However, mushing your hair together with a set of gloves and combining the color into your entire head of hair makes things less messy and more accessible.

Dyeing Wet Hair Cons

  • Damaging. Your hair is more fragile when it’s wet. If you’ve ever run a brush through wet hair and noticed that it sits flat and becomes quite stretchy, you know it’s easier to break strands.
  • Color might have an uneven result. Although wet hair absorbs color more, the chances of getting an uneven look are less likely. However, with dry hair, you can clearly see exactly where you are distributing color. Wet hair is usually darker, so you might die your hair blindly.
  • Diluted color treatment. If your hair is already damaged, your hair shaft will try to soak up as much moisture as possible to help repair the damage. The reason for the subtle appearance is that your wet hair will dilute the hair dye, and the dye may have difficulties bonding to your hair. Your result may be that the color is dull. 

Tips for Dyeing Your Hair When it’s Wet

Most hair experts advise against dyeing your hair when wet because of the damage you can cause, and you may not get your desired result. Nevertheless, if you’d like to experiment with dyeing your hair while it’s wet, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Don’t Shampoo Your Hair Before Dyeing It

Experts recommend only shampooing your hair 2 to 3 times a week because shampoo strips the natural oils from your hair. Your scalp may become irritated, and you may not get the color you want if your hair is freshly washed. 

Shampoos are one of the leading products that cause frizz due to their pH balance. Before dyeing your hair – wet or dry – ensure your hair is unwashed for at least 2 days to prevent breakage and more damage to your hair shaft and cuticles. 

Ensure There Is No Ammonia or Hydrogen in the Product

When your hair is dry, it’s easier for the outer layer of your hair (hair cuticles) to protect the hair shaft (the hair root) from environmental damage like heat, pollen, sweat, and exterior chemicals.

When your hair is wet, your cuticles open up, making the dyeing process much easier to cause permanent harm to your hair shaft (reason hair stops growing and hair loss). 

Ammonia and hydrogen are found in permanent hair dyes. If you use permanent hair dye on your wet hair, there’s a very good chance that your hair will face irreversible damage. 

Use a Deep Conditioner

If you are going to experiment with dyeing wet hair, ensure that you use a deep conditioner or deep conditioning products such as argan, coconut, or jojoba oil.

By deep conditioning your hair, you’ll reduce dryness, resulting in healthier-looking hair. Although, just because your hair looks healthy doesn’t always mean it is.

Look for products that have these ingredients:

  • Cetrimonium Bromide
  • Panthenol
  • Coconut oil
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein

Color Types That Work Best for Dyeing Wet Hair

Bowl of orange hair dye on a green background for a piece titled can you dye wet hair

Elena Kitch/Shutterstock

When using dye on wet hair, you must not use any old dye you find, like permanent dyes or even box dye. Permanent and box dyes usually contain hydrogen, ammonia, and other chemicals that damage your hair. Using permanent dye on wet hair will result in dry, frizzy, and unmanageable hair. 


Semi-permanent dye doesn’t contain ammonia or harsh chemicals that’ll ruin your hair. Semi-permanent dyes are for people who want to enhance or subtly increase the color and look of their hair. 

Non-permanent hair dyes don’t last very long on your hair and are not affected by moisture in the hair, making them perfect for wet hair dyeing.


The difference between semi-permanent and semi-permanent dye is that demi-permanent has traces of ammonia which means the color will deposit deeper into the hair shaft, making the color last longer. 

Although demi-permanent hair dyes should be used on dry hair, they are still safe for wet hair. If you choose demi hair dye, ensure that the color is more likely to bond with the water than the hair. Your hair may result in a softer color than what you were expecting. 

Keep Color Close to Original Color

For root touch-ups or subtle highlights, wet hair dyeing is the best for an enhanced look. If you opt for radiant or more vibrant hair color, depositing these intense colors much different than your color may result in an uneven or washed-out look. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you still unsure whether you’d like to try dyeing your hair while it’s wet? Below is a list of the most commonly asked questions by many like you. 

Is it better to dye wet or dry hair?

There is no better way to dye your hair, regardless if you’re dyeing wet or dry. Although it’s recommended you deposit color on dry hair because the color will soak quickly into dry hair, it depends on what you’d like your finished result to be.

Can I use box dye on wet hair?

It is not recommended to use box dye on wet hair due to the high concentration of ammonia and hydrogen most box dye use. On the other hand, if the box dye states against using these products, your hair may be safe.

Can I dye wet hair after bleaching?

Many experts advise against dyeing your hair wet right after bleaching, as the bleach has likely damaged your hair and made the strands brittle. As mentioned, wet hair makes dyes and chemical-induced products easier to damage your hair through breakage and permanent hair loss.

How long do I leave the dye on wet hair?

There is no special instruction for depositing hair dye on wet hair. The instructions provided with your dye package are the same length and process for dry hair.

How often should I dye my hair?

It is suggested that you dye your hair once every 6 to 8 weeks to prevent permanent damage to your hair follicles. Ensure you use deep conditioning products between dye treatments.

So, Can You Dye Your Hair When It’s Wet?

Although you can dye your hair when wet, ensure you follow all instructions appropriate to your dye treatment. Don’t forget to deep condition your hair after the process for the next 6 weeks, and be absolutely sure you’re not using hydrogen or ammonia on wet hair. 

If you’re looking for a subtle change, touching up your roots, or looking to increase highlights, dyeing your hair wet is the perfect go-to for you.

On the other hand, if you want to change your hair completely or need to use permanent or box-dye, ensure your hair is fully dry before depositing any color. Happy coloring!