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Can You Dye Greasy Hair?

by Gabbi

Are you planning to color your hair anytime soon? It can be intimidating, especially if you want to go lighter or consider using bleach. Dyeing your hair can be traumatic for your strands if you carry out the incorrect techniques.

Multiple factors can affect the outcome of your hair, like if you use box dye, get it colored professionally, have previously colored hair, or if your hair is greasy. The scalp’s natural oils can create a healthy barrier between harsh dye and your follicles. 

However, can you dye greasy hair? Whether or not you can dye greasy hair depends on how much sebum is present and other hair characteristics. This is why it’s crucial to visit a professional to determine if your hair can handle dye. 

Greasy hair can be beneficial for intense services like bleach. However, how greasy is too greasy? It’s essential to preserve some of your scalp’s natural oils before dyeing your hair, but too much oil might hinder the results of your desired hair color. 

Likewise, how clean should your hair be before applying hair dye? Clean hair may not always be ideal before a color service. You’ll want the scalp’s oils to create a barrier. It’s crucial to consult with your hairdresser about the best state for your hair. Below, we’ll explain why.

Is Greasy Hair Good For Hair Dye?

Some stylists will claim the dirtier the hair, the better it is for color. It’s great to have greasy hair, but not too much. For example, you’ll want to keep a little of your natural scalp oils to create a healthy barrier to shield against harsh products like bleach

However, hair that is too oily or greasy can hinder your hair dye results. Hair that has excessive sebum or product buildup can create a lackluster color. 

What Makes Hair Greasy?

What factors make your hair greasy initially? Figuring out greasy or oily hair/skin triggers can help your control or minimize sebum production. Also, everyone has varying scalp characteristics. Some are dry, sensitive, or oily. 

Sometimes greasy hair is simply down to health or genetics, while other times you can adapt your hair care routine. Other contributing factors include medications or hair products.


Sebum, oil, and grease all refer to the sebaceous glands. We have these glands all over the face and scalp, and they produce our natural oils. However, some scalps will generate more sebum than others, resulting in greasier hair. 

You can produce excess sebum for numerous reasons like genetics, over-washing the hair, or poor diet. In addition, some products like dry shampoo can minimize grease between washes but can cause product buildup.

Hair Product 

How often do you style your hair? How many styling products are in your routine? 

Styling products are lovely to help master any hairstyle, but they can also lead to greasy hair in some scenarios. Therefore, you’ll want to avoid excessively applying hair products.

Hair products can quickly leave film, residue, or buildup on the hair that can be challenging to remove without a clarifying shampoo. In addition, they may create a stringy or oily appearance. 

Excess Shampooing 

Washing your hair daily is not recommended by most stylists. Even shampooing every other day can take a toll on your strands. In addition, shampooing too often can quickly strip your hair of its natural oils, leading to the overproduction of sebum. 

You may need to train your hair to avoid getting greasy between washes, but it can help preserve your natural oils.


Finally, medications and hormones can also play a vital role in sebum production. Unfortunately, hormones need time to regulate, and prescriptions often come with a lengthy list of side effects, one of them being the overproduction of sebum.

Please always consult a doctor or medical professional if you believe your greasy hair is due to hormones or medications. 

Should You Wash Your Hair Before Dyeing It?

Now that we know the culprit of your greasy hair, what should your hair-washing schedule look like? Should your hair be clean before hair color? It’s ideal for achieving a balance of semi-clean or semi-dirty hair before most color applications. 

Finding the middle ground between overly clean and oily will ensure you have enough natural oils protecting the scalp, but not too much where it will hinder the color. Conversely, hair that is too clean has those oils stripped away with no barrier. 

You may consult with your stylist because everyone’s scalp and hair type may react differently to color services.

Why Semi-Clean Hair Is Best

Semi-clean hair is the sweet spot to strive for color services. But how do you know when your hair is semi-clean? You may notice the hair starts to get greasy or oily one day or two after washing it, which can be the ideal time for dyeing the strands. 

However, if your hair is greasy/oily for days at a time, this may not provide the best canvas for hair color.

Less Product Buildup

Semi-clean hair won’t be overloaded with hair products. For example, it can be tempting to bombard your scalp with dry shampoo to eliminate oil, but too much hair product can create a waxy texture

Gels, hairspray, pomades, and more can all hinder the result of your hair dye application. However, washing your hair and avoiding products for a day or two can help prepare you for color services.

Eliminates Excess Oil

Some natural oils are actually beneficial to have for a color service. However, too much can potentially affect your hair dye. Hair that is too oily can make it difficult for hair dye to latch onto, which can lead to a patchy result. 

Semi-clean hair provides that balance of natural oils that are beneficial during a coloring service.

Enough Scalp Oils For Protection

Why is it crucial to keep some of your natural scalp oils? These oils can act as a protective barrier during a color service, especially if you want to go lighter. 

Bleach is a harsh and tricky product to use, and it can quickly travel up to the scalp and create burns or irritation if there is no protection. 

This is why you’ll often see stylists wait to bleach the roots last because it can cause damage if not done correctly.

What Happens When You Color Greasy Hair?

Can you color on top of overly greasy, oily hair? Technically you can, but you may not achieve the crisp and vivid desired result. Remember, having some natural oils is essential, but excessive sebum can potentially hinder your hair dye results.

For example, you may notice your new color will be lackluster or patchy, or it may require you to visit a salon more often to fix your dye job. 

Less Color Pay-Off

Overly greasy hair can make it challenging for your strands to absorb all the dye fully. This can result in achieving a dull or lackluster hair color. 

In addition, the buildup of oils or hair products can act as a barrier preventing the dye from saturating the strands entirely. 

As a result, you may not receive as much color payoff as you expected. It could be incredibly challenging if your main goal were to conceal roots or grays.

Patchy Results

Not only will you get less color payoff, but you may even notice patchy results. For example, some sections of the hair can be more saturated than others. Or you may have even missed some spots with color if you dye your hair at home. 

This is another result of dyeing the hair when it’s too dirty, oily, greasy, or with too much buildup. 

Frequent Salon Visits

You may not be happy with your results if you dye overly greasy/dirty hair. Also, color corrections can have a hefty price at most salons, but fixing any previous dye job may be worth the investment. 

This is especially true if you’ve recently bleached your hair. Frequent salon visits can be costly and time-consuming, but they can help you achieve the hair color you initially desired.

When Is The Ideal Time To Dye Your Hair?

When should you wash your hair if you’re planning to dye it? It’s best to wash your hair for at least 1-2 days before coloring it. This will allow enough time for your scalp to produce natural oils without being overly oily. 

Also, you may even wash three days before your color service if you have a dehydrated scalp. You can also consult with your stylist.

How To Wash Your Hair Before Coloring It 

How can you wash your hair correctly to prepare it for hair dye? First, you may want to take this time to give your scalp and ends a little TLC. Also, it’s crucial to remember your hair health will only be as excellent as your scalp health. 

Including a few tips into your hair routine is helpful, like using a clarifying shampoo (we love this one from Redken) or avoiding heavy ingredients.

Wash 1-2 Days Before 

We’ve mentioned various times that it’s ideal for washing your hair at least 1-2days before you plan to dye it. This will ensure your scalp has enough time to produce its natural oils and create a protective barrier against harsh coloring agents like bleach. 

Also, your hair won’t be too greasy, hindering your hair color results.

Using A Clarifying Shampoo

When it’s time to wash your hair to prepare it for color, you may want to use a clarifying shampoo. This product is excellent to use every month to remove buildup from hair products and clear the scalp of dirt, dead skin, and excess sebum. 

A clarifying shampoo will eliminate buildup and provide an even, clean canvas for hair color to adhere to.

Focus On Scalp Care

You may also decide to focus on scalp care. For example, you may choose to add a pre-wash oil to the scalp and massage it to boost circulation. A scalp serum can also help exfoliate and nourish the scalp before it takes on new hair dyes. 

You can also carry out scalp care steps even after your hair coloring appointment to maintain healthy strands.

Avoid Styling Products 

It will be beneficial to avoid applying any styling product to your hair within the 1-2 days between washing and coloring. This will prevent any buildup, film, or residue on the strands that can potentially prevent the hair dye from saturating completely. 

It may be helpful to avoid certain scalp/root products like root touch-up powder or dry shampoos. It can also potentially prevent overly greasy hair. 

Eliminate Heavy Ingredients

Finally, you may want to avoid certain hair ingredients that can quickly buildup on the hair or create that stringy appearance. For example, silicones can easily weigh the hair down significantly if the hair hasn’t been clarified for an extended period. 

This can make your hair greasier than it actually is or lead you to over-washing, which is not ideal for controlling sebum production.

How To Maintain Hair Dye And Greasy Hair 

Greasy hair and hair color may not always be the ideal match. You may be tempted to continue over-washing your hair if you’re greasy, which can fade your color faster. So how can you maintain your new color while combating oily hair? 

Some helpful tips include avoiding over washing the hair, rinsing with cold water, and using color-friendly products.  

Avoid Over-washing 

Over-washing your hair can strip your color and natural oils. Therefore, avoiding washing your hair frequently is ideal for maintaining scalp health and preserving your hair color. Also, over-washing can cause your scalp to increase sebum production. 

Training your hair may be challenging at first, but learning to last longer between washes can keep your color and reduce sebum production.

Pick Hair Color-Friendly Products 

Another helpful tip is to pick color-preserving products. Various brands have lines that target hair color preservation. For example, you may want products that don’t dull or dilute hair color while not weighing the strands down to appear greasier. 

You can also try investing in color-depositing conditioners to keep color fresh between coloring appointments. It can be helpful to ask your stylist what hair color-friendly products they recommend.

Wash With Cold Water 

Finally, one way to preserve your hair color with greasy hair is to wash it with cold water. This may be uncomfortable at first, but cold water will ensure your new hair dye won’t run down the drain as fast as it can with warm water. 

You can also wait to rinse your hair with water at the end of your washing routine if you can’t stand using cold water with shampoo or conditioner.


To sum up, technically you can color over greasy hair, but it may not give you the desired result. For example, applying hair dye over oily, dirty hair or hair with buildup can hinder your results. It can quickly look patchy and dull. 

It’s best to have semi-clean hair with some of your natural scalp oils if you plan on dyeing your hair.

Natural scalp oils are essential for hair coloring services but avoid dyeing excessively greasy hair. Semi-clean hair will provide the best results because it has less product buildup/oil and still offers the scalp some protection. 

The ideal time to wash your hair is 1-2 days before applying your hair dye. This will ensure your color can evenly coat the strands without patches, and you can achieve full-color saturation. 

Please consult a hairstylist for any greasy hair concerns!

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