Here’s How Often You Can Dye Your Hair, According to Professional Colorists

Photo: Stocksy / Ángela Rober

It's estimated that over 75% of American women dye their hair. But how often is too often? If you're hitting rinse and repeat on your go-to at-home dye formula, could you be doing more harm than good? Perhaps. Ultimately, the good news is that there are safe practices for keeping your hair color fresh regularly, and those time frames vary based on your goals. 

So, if you want to keep your roots covered, the timing of your dye jobs will differ from someone keeping up all-over color or highlights. To get to the root of how often you can dye your hair, we spoke to three professional  colorists on how to time your color appointment—whether in the salon or at home. 

Experts In This Article

How long should you wait between dying your hair?

There aren't strict timelines for how long to wait between dye jobs, but most experts say to wait—at least—four weeks before playing with hair color to keep your lengths healthy. Still, according to Katelyn Bode, owner of The Copper Comb Salon, if you want to achieve a lived-in hair color, you should extend the time between salon visits or touchups at home. 

How often can you dye your roots without damaging them?

When strictly coloring your roots, there's a little more wiggle room. "It's always safe to dye your roots, even as frequently as every 10-14 days—as long as the application is only at the roots, with no overlap on your existing color," explains Sharon Dorram, celebrity colorist and owner of Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon. If you feel like your roots are constantly showing, a healthier alternative might be a temporary color you can do yourself. "Generally, the less you color your hair, the better since you're subjecting it to less stress and chemicals," says Giselle Luza, NYC colorist and founder of Soho Blondes

"For clients who find themselves coloring their roots too often, I recommend they use a temporary root touchup spray on their part, switching to a demi-permanent color or a lower maintenance color placement to stretch out the time between appointments."

How often should I dye my hair to cover grays?

When it comes to how often you should dye your hair to cover grays, it will depend on your hair and your preference. "Most people's hair grows about a half inch per month—some may be more, and some may be less," says Bode. "So depending on how quickly your hair grows will determine how soon you want to color it." The other option? Embrace the gray. "In the last few years, I've seen a trend of women prioritizing low-maintenance color and embracing their grays," Luza says. "This has allowed clients to embrace gray blending techniques that let them go longer between appointments rather than the typical full gray coverage single-process, which requires a higher level of maintenance."

Can you dye your hair every two weeks?

While, yes, you can technically dye your hair every two weeks (especially with at-home dye), our experts don't recommend it. Remember, dyeing your hair is a chemical process that can compromise your hair strands, causing breakage, damage, and even dryness if done too frequently or incorrectly. 

How often can you dye your hair at home? 

You should adhere to specific guidelines even when dyeing your hair at home. Our experts agree that applying all-over color every four to six weeks is ideal and every 10-14 days for root touchups. According to Dorram, excessive use of at-home hair color can create a "buildup" on hair, making it look dense and overly polished. In addition to following proper guidelines for at-home hair color, experts also say the type of color you use is important: 

Semi-permanent colors

These are the least damaging colors and can even help your hair feel shinier and healthier. These don't contain ammonia or fully penetrate the cuticle of the hair. You can also consider a gloss, which is semi-permanent and will enhance your color and shine with just a few minutes in the shower. 

Demi-permanent colors

These also don't contain ammonia or fully penetrate the hair's cuticle. Most toners stylists use in the salon are demi-permanent, lasting longer than semi-permanent formulas. 

At-home permanent hair dye

These are typically formulated with a high-volume developer, so they can be a bit more damaging if misused. Still, they are cost-effective for people looking for gray coverage at home.

Is box dye bad for your hair?

The short answer: It depends. If you use a semi- or demi-permanent option, you're less likely to cause damage, while permanent box dye can dry more and, therefore, be more damaging. "At-home hair colors contain much harsher and more concentrated chemicals and lack the protective ingredients used in the salon," Bode explains. This can lead to allergic reactions, stains, burns, irritation, or damaged hair."

The other issue with box dye is simply the uncertainty of the results. "Customers may be led to believe they will have the result pictured on the box," says Bode. If a redhead and a blonde grabbed the same box dye, they would have completely different results. There is no way to personalize the hair color to that client's needs." 

The Final Takeaway

You can absolutely have too much of a good thing, and hair dye is no exception. "Less is more, and semi- or demi-permanent colors tend to be the least damaging of all hair dyes," Luza explains. Still, patience is key when it comes to dye frequency, and waiting at least four weeks between color enhancements is best for maintaining hair health. There's flexibility regarding roots, but minimizing chemical exposure to your hair is always the best option to keep your lengths from feeling dry or over-processed. 

Ultimately, whether you're a salon regular or a DIY enthusiast, prioritizing the health and well-being of your hair should always be considered first. By understanding the nuances of dye frequency, techniques, and product options, you can get the hair color you want without compromising hair health. 

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