Dyeing wet hair, is it possible?

Having wet hair when dyeing is not what we usually see in salons and hundreds of videos on social media. If we decide to do it at home most of the products indicate that it should be done with dry hair, although there are others that advise to apply it with wet hair.

But is it possible to apply a hair dye on wet hair, does it make a difference if it is dry or wet, is there any advantage to dyeing wet hair? If you’ve been asking yourself these questions, we’ll answer some of them below. Read on!

Can you dye wet hair?

Yes, of course you can color your hair while it’s wet. However, when we go to the salon to have any hair coloring done, it is done on dry hair. Many professionals choose to do it this way for color permanence. It is believed that wet or damp hair will absorb less of the product, which is not true. In fact, with wet hair the strands are more absorbent and susceptible to change. The only thing that dictates whether you need to apply it to wet or dry hair is the type of formulas or hair color you are applying.

Types of hair color that work on wet hair

Now, coloring wet hair doesn’t actually work for all color jobs. We may not know this, but there are two types of dyes: permanent and semi-permanent. For permanent color jobs they require a dry hair application. This could mean going lighter or darker. When you want to lighten hair, which is done with bleach, you will need dry strands to get a precise application that won’t drip.

Likewise, if we are using a permanent color to darken our locks, dry hair is best for it to really penetrate and alter the state of our hair on a deeper level.

That said, the best coloring options for applying dye to wet hair are semi-permanent dyes. These, for the most part, do not contain ammonia or peroxide and their pigment molecules are larger so only the outer layer of the hair, ie the cuticle, absorbs the color.

Since their job is to enhance or slightly alter the tone of your hair. As well as providing a more subtle change with a shorter length of stay, their formulas are not greatly affected by the presence of water. These colors work well on wet hair because they do not lift or drastically alter the hair in any permanent way.

Other options for coloring with wet hair include:

Demi-permanent colour.

The main difference between a semi-permanent and demi-permanent color is that it has some ammonia and therefore will penetrate the hair shaft at a deeper level than the single layer of a semi-permanent.

With greater color absorption, a demi-permanent will last approximately 5 times longer than a semi-permanent color. Regardless of the presence of ammonia, it is still a temporary color, so applying it to wet hair will not affect the coloring too much.

The small drawback here is that our hair has the potential to absorb more water and not as much dye, which could dilute your color formulation a bit and reduce color permanence.

Temporary dyes

We may not consider them semi- or demi-permanent colors. But, these usually come in fun shades, such as bright pink, which make them very attractive. They can also be found in shampoos that are used to neutralize highlights. These are safe to use on wet hair.

See also Myths about using hair dyes

Benefits of coloring wet hair

While hair color can be applied to wet or dry hair, applying it to wet hair has some advantages worth considering:

A little water goes a long way

Moisture helps the color distribute evenly. Whereas, when applied to dry hair, you will need to pay much more attention to make sure you have fully saturated each strand with your dye.

Hair is more absorbent when wet

When our hair is wet, it has a higher porosity, which means that the cuticle opens up a bit and is ready to absorb liquids. Basically, there is a great opportunity for color to penetrate the hair shaft at a slightly deeper level than it could on dry hair.

Simplifies the job a bit

When we apply hair color at home it is a relief when we are instructed to apply them to wet hair. Applying hair color with a spray bottle and combing all of our hair into lather in the shower is much easier than the precision required of a brush and bowl application.

The disadvantages of coloring wet hair

Some of the drawbacks of wet hair application include:

Uneven application.

While the moisture may help distribute the color, it is still a less precise color application. If a more dramatic change is the desired result, it is best to pay extra attention to a detailed, dry hair application.

Water could potentially dilute the color

If our hair is extremely dry and damaged, then our hair is looking for moisture! In such a scenario, the hair may have already absorbed so much water that there is little room left for the dye to penetrate the cortex of the hair. That doesn’t mean it won’t work or, your results may not be as vibrant or long-lasting as you had hoped.

Prone to more damage

Hair is more vulnerable when it’s wet. The cuticle is like a shield that protects the hair and when wet the cuticle opens, weakening the bonds that normally protect our inner cortex.

With dry hair, the natural oils we produce are an extra help to protect our hair, but those oils don’t serve us well under water pressure. Avoiding heat, abrasive brushing and towel drying are some of the small steps you can take to help fragile, wet strands suffer less damage.

For more even color application when coloring wet hair, we should try to distribute the color with a wide-tooth comb or damp brush.