Does Chlorine Affect Hair Dye?

Does Chlorine Affect Hair Dye

If you are an avid pool goer, you may have noticed that your hair color has started to lose its luster and fade a bit. You may also find that your hair has become dry and brittle, as well as prone to having split ends. In extreme cases, patches of your hair may even fall out, and I hope you have not had that happen to you personally.

The cause of all of these hair-raising side effects is none other than the chemicals used to keep pool water sanitary, with the primary culprit being chlorine. While chlorine has many crucial benefits, it is also a bleach and it will cause hair pigment to lighten. If your hair has already been chemically treated or permed, it can damage your hair further by stripping your hair of its natural oils and eating away at its cuticle.

If you just recently got a hair treatment at a salon or plan to have one done soon, do NOT expose your hair to chlorine. Chlorine is an aggressive chemical and, in addition to damaging your hair, can prevent the hair dye from depositing pigments inside the hair fiber. 

When it comes to dyeing your hair, you must fully wash off the chlorine in your hair before you dye it. And if you’ve already dyed your hair and can’t wait to go to the pool, you should wait 3-7 days before exposing your hair to chlorinated water. If this sounds like a hassle, don’t blame us, we didn’t make the rules. It’s simply a matter of chemistry.

Keep reading on, and we will explain how chlorine affects your hair dye, why you should wait a few days before going to the pool after dyeing your hair, and how to properly remove all the chlorine in your hair before color-treating it.

Why you must remove all chlorine in your hair before dyeing it

The reason why chlorine must be rinsed off your hair is simple. If you want your hair to end up a mish-mash of colors that you didn’t expect, kind of like a tie-dye shirt but more uneven, then go ahead, dye your hair without first washing the chlorine off your hair.

What’ll happen is that the chlorine will form a kind of barrier, preventing the peroxide in the hair dye to open up the hair cuticles so that the pigments can be deposited inside. Thus, the colors will be deposited unevenly on the hair fiber.

The end result is that you’ll notice some of your hair remains undyed, some of it is the color of the hair dye, and some of the dye might have had a chemical reaction with the chlorine, creating yet another color. For instance, it’s not unusual for people who dyed their hair blond to notice that their hair has a green tint to it, and that’s because it was exposed to chlorine.

For the hair dye to penetrate and permanently set in your hair fiber, your hair must be free of chlorine and also dry. When I say clean I mean free of any other hair product, so don’t go applying any wax, hair spray, or any other product.

Just like how chlorine forms a barrier around your hair, other hair products can prevent the peroxide from opening up your hair cuticles as well, and then we have the same problem all over again.

Aside from ruining your hair dye, chlorine can also damage your hair. Chlorine is, as mentioned, an aggressive chemical. It can react with the chemicals in your dye and result in further weakening of your hair, which may already be weakened by constant exposure to chlorine in the first place. This can result in patches of your hair falling out. I think this is what you should really be worried about.

How to remove chlorine from hair before coloring

The correct way to remove chlorine from your hair is to wash it not just once, but twice. Here are the steps:

  • Rinse your hair with warm water, and apply chlorine removal shampoo. If you don’t have that, then just use your regular shampoo.
  • Massage the shampoo into your scalp and rub it into your hair.
  • Rinse the suds off your hair.
  • Apply the shampoo again, making sure to massage it into your scalp and hair.
  • Rinse the suds from your hair and apply conditioner to the middle and ends.
  • Rinse your hair for the final time, dry your hair, and now apply the color.

One final piece of advice. If you can wait at least two days after rinsing the chlorine from your hair before applying the hair dye, that will further improve your chances of a successful color-treatment.

You can never be too sure about how much chlorine is still lingering in your hair and if it has been absorbed into your hair, so this is just a precaution.

Parting words

Whether or not you have dyed hair, chlorine can and will negatively affect your hair. Essentially, it strips your hair of its natural oils, causing it to dry out and become brittle. The chlorine can also get absorbed into your hair and cause your hair to lose its shine.

When it comes to dyeing your hair, if you have recently come into contact with chlorine, we recommend waiting at least two days before you dye your hair. If you have already dyed your hair and are wondering when you can swim at the pool, we recommend waiting at least 3-7 days.

If you do not thoroughly wash the chlorine out of your hair, it can form a barrier around it, preventing the peroxide contained in the hair dye from opening the hair cuticles and letting the pigment properly deposit inside. In other words, the dye won’t stick, and you will have unevenly colored hair. You’ll also experience plenty of color runs when you wash your hair.

Not to mention, if you dyed your hair at the salon, you would have effectively wasted a bunch of money and now you have to spend even more to fix the problem. Not a good situation to be in.

If you plan on dyeing your hair any time soon, or you have already dyed your hair, be extremely wary of chlorine. To safely dye your hair, leave plenty of days before you dye your hair, as well as afterwards, where you do not expose your hair to chlorine. This way, you will get the best results from the dye and you won’t damage your hair.