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How Long Does It Take to Dye Your Hair? | Salon vs. At-Home

Whether you’re having it done at the salon or DIY-ing with some box dye, how long does it take to dye your hair? From simple, quick root touch-ups to full-head dyes, here’s how much time you should be spending in the salon chair.

How Long Does It Take to Dye Your Hair?

The Short Answer

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question – not only does it depend on what kind of treatment you’re doing, but times can also vary based on whether you’re doing it at your home or having a professional handle the job for you.

  • On average, you can expect to spend anywhere from two to four hours at the salon, regardless of what kind of treatment you’re having done.
  • At home, most box dyes don’t take longer than an hour and a half to treat your hair, but there’s more risk that comes with doing it yourself.

Keep reading for more in-depth answers about how long you can expect the process to take. While it may seem odd that a professional dye takes longer than a box dye, there’s a couple of reasons for this. 

How Long Does It Take to Dye Your Hair at a Salon?

For a piece on how long does it take to dye your hair at a salon, a woman sitting in a chair getting foil highlights

Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

Discussion With the Stylist

You won’t have to do this at home, but the stylist themselves can tack on a few extra minutes for salon dyes. Even if you make an appointment ahead of time, you may have to wait when you get there.

And before anything happens, you’ll likely need to speak with the stylist about what kind of treatment you want and what color you’d like. It’s still a good idea to set aside at least four hours for a salon visit.

But you can always ask the stylist for an estimate, too. For instance, if you’re going in for a root touch-up, the appointment may only take two hours. Full-head dyes, however, may use the entire four hours. 

Bleaching Before Dye

You won’t need to do this with every color, but bleaching before you add color can be time-consuming, depending on the existing color. If you’re already blonde, the processing time for bleach may only be twenty minutes (in addition to the 10 or 20 minute application time).

But, if you’ve got darker hair, you could be looking at a total of thirty minutes. If they’re removing another color from your hair, some stylists may even split the bleaching process into multiple sessions – so you could be looking at multiple appointments before you even get to touch the hair dye. 

Application Time

Once your hair is ready to take the new color, your stylist is going to need to apply it – and that process can take anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour alone.

If you’ve got extremely short hair or the stylist is only applying foils to certain parts of it, application time could be slightly shorter, but you should still expect it to take at least twenty to thirty minutes. 

Processing Time

While home dyes may process in thirty minutes or less, the hair color that you get at a salon is professional-grade – so the processing takes a little longer. Many professional-grade dyes take at least forty-five minutes to process, but some could take up to an hour. 

Other Factors that Affect How Long it Takes to Dye Your Hair

While talking with the stylist, bleaching, application time, and processing are always going to tack on time, there are other factors that can affect how long it takes to dye your hair too. For instance, if you’ve got “virgin hair” that’s never been dyed, the process may go slightly faster.

Your hair is undamaged from previous dyes and may absorb the color faster. The length of your hair can also play a big role. With short hair, both the application and processing times are much quicker than if you’re dealing with long, unruly hair. 

And, of course, the color you’re trying to achieve can increase (or decrease) the amount of time you spend in the salon chair. For instance, someone with blonde, virgin hair that’s only looking to darken their hair by a few shades isn’t going to have a lot of delays. 

However, if you’re removing a bright color, like pink, and then trying to dye your hair blue, you may have to schedule several appointments just to get the previous color completely out. 

How Long Does It Take to Dye Your Hair at Home?

For a piece on how long does it take to dye your hair at home, a woman pouring a DIY hair dye kit onto a brush on her hair

Veja/Shutterstock

While working with a professional is always going to give you the best results, these appointments can be expensive – which is why some people prefer to roll the dice and dye their hair at home.

While boxed dyes usually don’t take as long to process or apply, there can be a learning curve if you’ve never worked with them before. With that said, most boxed dyes don’t take longer than an hour-and-a-half for full-head dyes. 

Preparation Time

At home, you may not have to deal with waiting rooms or talking with a stylist, but you’ll still need some preparation time. This includes reading the instructions on the box, gathering supplies, making sure you’ve placed the hair dye in the application tube, and snapping your gloves on. 

Bleaching 

If you’re moving from a lighter color to a darker one, bleaching may not be necessary – but if you’ve got to remove the previous color from your hair, bleaching is almost always essential.

The good news is that most boxed bleaches don’t take more than fifteen or twenty minutes to apply, and their processing time is usually within twenty to thirty minutes too. 

Keep in mind that the bleaching process may have two parts: with some hair, you may need to apply toner after you bleach – which gets rid of any brassiness left behind and ensures your hair is a sleek platinum. 

Application Time 

After bleaching (and toning), you’ve still got to apply the new color to your hair. With most boxed dyes, you don’t have to worry about putting foils in, but you can still expect the application process to take at least fifteen minutes or longer – especially if you’ve got longer hair. 

Processing Time

Boxed dyes don’t take as long to process as professional-grade dyes do, so you can cut that hour-long processing time back to twenty or thirty minutes. After the dye has processed, most box dyes will include a conditioner for washing the dye out too. 

Dye at the Salon vs. At Home: Which Is Better?

Portrait of a woman touching her chin while standing in a blue room wearing a purple sweater

Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

Ultimately, picking between letting a professional dye your hair or doing it yourself comes down to what you’re looking for. If you don’t mind carving out up to four hours for the appointment (or even booking multiple sessions), the expertise of a stylist can make a big difference. 

Not only will a stylist make sure your hair comes out looking great, but many of the professional-grade products they use in your hair ensure that it takes the least amount of damage possible. 

At-home dye jobs do come with some risks  – if you’re inexperienced, you risk damaging your hair or ending up with a botched dye job, but doing it at home is much more affordable (and cuts down on time). 

So, How Long Does It Take to Dye Your Hair?

How long does it take to dye your hair? Well, the answer depends on whether it’s happening at a salon or at home – but either way, you should still expect to carve out at least two hours for the process. 

If you’re worried about how long it’s going to take, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and ask your stylist how long they estimate the appointment to take or to check the back of the box dye’s instructions about application time and processing.

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