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How Often Can You Dye Your Hair Without Ruining It?

BY Felicia Ler

Between Gigi Hadid’s redhead debut at the 2021 Met Gala and Billie Eilish’s iconic green roots, we totally get why you feel like switching up your hair color every now and then. But the big question is, how often can you dye your hair?

Below, let’s explore the hair-dyeing process to answer one of the most-asked questions in hair care. You’ll also discover some hair-healthy tips at the end that will help you maintain your fabulous new hue for as long as possible.

The Hair Dyeing Process: What It Does to Your Strands

All of us are familiar with the end results of a dye job done well. (Cue the Instagram selfies!) But not many of us know about the inner workings of the hair dyeing process.

Here’s how it works: In general, hair dyes either sit atop your hair cuticles (the outermost layer of your hair shafts) or penetrate into the cortex (the inner layer of your hair fibers).

So how often can you dye your hair? Before answering that question, it’s wise to consider and compare the various types of hair dyes on the market. Not only will the information help you get the most out of your dye job, but it may also prevent your next dye job from going wrong, saving you a whole lot of heartache and money.

Here are the several common types of hair dyes that transform your strands in distinct ways:

  • Temporary hair dyes: As the name suggests, temporary dyes are meant to last for one shampoo wash. Because they temporarily tint the hair shafts, they are the least damaging of all hair dyes.
  • Semi-permanent hair dyes: Like temporary dyes, semi-permanent hair colors don’t contain any developers (think ammonia and peroxide), which means they typically stay on top of your cuticles. Because semi-permanent dyes last slightly longer than temporary ones, they are popular as DIY root touch-ups to tide you over until your next appointment with your colorist.
  • Demi-permanent hair dyes: These hair dyes contain developers, albeit at a lower concentration than permanent ones. Demi-permanent dyes raise the cuticle scales so that the artificial pigments can enter the cortex. They are usually used for darkening (to cover up gray hairs or deepen your natural hair color) but not lightening. Because these dyes fade gradually, they can last for roughly 24 shampoo washes.
  • Permanent hair dyes: For a permanent color change, permanent dyes are the way to go (surprise, surprise). They are used with developers to help the pigments reach the cortex and remove your hair’s natural color before depositing the new artificial hue. Permanent dyes can both darken and lighten hair colors (think bleached hair and balayage).

If you aren’t ready to commit to a new color yet, choose temporary and semi-permanent dyes. But if you’re all set on a different color, say, you want to bleach your black hair to blonde, permanent dyes may be what you’re looking for.

Take note that for permanent dyes, the color fades slightly over time, but it never truly washes out. So, if you want something that’s a middle ground on hair color longevity, give demi-permanent dyes a shot.

How Often Can You Dye Your Hair?

The temptation to pop over to the salon every time you scroll through your Pinterest board titled “Hair Inspiration” is relatable. But the price tag of each dye job will quickly rein in your urges — oh, the reality!

That said, your mane probably breathed a sigh of relief. As pretty as lowlights, highlights, and balayage are, hair dyes (especially the demi-permanent and permanent kinds) can take a toll on your tresses. Why? Because developers swell the cuticles to open them up so that the dye can enter the hair shaft. This in turn increases your hair’s porosity

More porous hair may quickly absorb the new color, but unfortunately, it also translates to damaged hair. After all, highly porous hair easily loses its moisture, resulting in dryness, frizz, dullness, brittleness, and quicker color-fading. That’s why hair experts always caution against over-dyeing. 

So then, how often can you dye your hair? 

The general rule of thumb is once every 4-8 weeks, give or take. This frequency varies from person to person, depending on factors like the type of hair dye used, the specific color used, your hair regrowth rate, and any additional treatments you may tack on (like chemical straightening or perms).

For instance, if you’ve bleached your hair and want to do it again, it’s best to stretch it out to 8-10 weeks after your first treatment. When it comes to re-dyes, the frequency is typically a little shorter. Aim for once every 2-3 weeks, or however often your colorist recommends.

Most importantly, let your hair health guide how often you should go in for a coloring treatment. If your locks aren’t worse for wear, stick to the recommended timeline. But if you notice your strands are severely dehydrated, rough to the touch, or breaking off in clumps, it’s high time for a hiatus from all the hair dyes.

How to Maintain Your New Color and Overall Hair Health

As we’ve repeatedly stressed, coloring can be pretty intense on your strands, particularly the cuticles. Thus, much of the hair-dyeing aftercare focuses on “closing” the raised cuticles to downplay hair porosity and limit hair damage.

Here’s what you can do to maximize your new color and promote the appearance of healthy hair.

Bring On the Color-Safe Products

New hair color equals a new haircare regime. Your color-treated ‘do needs color-safe products that can help preserve its new hue for as long as possible — or until the next scheduled appointment at your local salon.

That’s where Function of Beauty’s custom haircare range can help. It’s free of sulfates and parabens that can strip away hair color and intensify dryness. (Exactly what your mane doesn’t need at the moment.)

Also, we recommend our “color protection” hair goal to help:

  • Prevent dulling and fading
  • Enhance your strands for optimum color uptake and retention for lasting, vibrant color
  • Protect your hair from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays

If conventional shampoo is too drying for your locks, try a co-wash (aka cleansing conditioner) instead. A good option is our custom co-wash that removes surface buildup while conditioning your mane for a non-stripping cleanse. Even though it’s recommended for curly or coily hair types, straight and wavy hair can still use it. If you belong to the latter, your hair may feel weighed down or you may need to wash sooner than you would using regular shampoo when washing with co-wash.

Those with blonde, gray, highlighted, bleached, or balayage hair colors aren’t left out either. Look toward our custom purple shampoo to help play down the harsh, brassy tones. Plus, it’s proven to enhance shine and extend your color longevity while providing nourishment and smoothness.

Prioritize the Conditioners

Conditioners are integral to your haircare routine, particularly after a bout of coloring. That’s because they moisturize the cuticle layer and smooth it down to minimize frizz and porosity. A 2018 study even found that conditioning agents, like silicones and hydrolyzed milk proteins, help minimize color-induced hair damage.

While a rinse-off conditioner is non-negotiable, a deep conditioner, like Function of Beauty’s custom hair mask, offers an extra dose of nourishment. All you have to do is pick your favorite hair goals (color protection included) to bestow an optimal blend of nutrients on dry, damaged, or dull-looking hair.

Once you’re out of the shower, a leave-in conditioner does wonders in protecting your hair from dryness and tangles. Choose one with an ultra-lightweight texture to supercharge the smoothness and shine of your mane without weighing it down.

Protect Against the Heat 

Because color-treated hair is already quite fragile, stay away from heat-styling tools for the moment and try air-drying your tresses whenever possible.

If you feel like you can’t break up with your hair tools just yet, slather on a heat protectant to protect your hair against heat damage. In which case, check out our custom hair serum that’s proven to:

  • Reduce frizz by 70%
  • Increase shine by 26 times more than untreated hair
  • Improve detangling by 75%
  • Thermally protect hair from damage up to 400 degrees

Clearly, our hair serum is amazing and gets the job done, even if we do say so ourselves.

How Often Can You Dye Your Hair? Mystery Solved!

Just as with everything in life, moderation is key. Too much hair dyeing can wreck your locks. Stick to the recommended timeline of 4-8 weeks between your coloring treatments. Of course, this time range may be shorter or longer, depending on what you want to achieve at the salon.

Still, knowing the frequency of hair-coloring isn’t enough. You also need to master the proper care of color-treated tresses. If you need some help there, hop over to our hair quiz for color-protective formulations custom-made to your unique ‘do.