Why Salons Wash Your Hair After Coloring It, According to a Colorist

Every color needs a good cleanse.

Twins Ami Amiaya & Aya Amiaya wears red cropped jacket, black white skirt, wide leg shorts, sleeveless jacket, black white striped jumper with logo outside Chanel during Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear Fall Winter 2023 2024 : Day Nine on March 07, 2023 in Paris, France.
(Image credit: Christian Vierig/Getty Images))

If you've ever gotten your hair colored at a salon, you've probably noticed that even after your hairdresser has washed and colored your mane, they still apply yet another round of shampoo and conditioner to it for good measure. And if you're as curious as we are, you've probably wondered why this is the case. 

"Washing your hair, either before or after color in the salon in New York state is the law," explains Allison Gandolfo, celebrity hairstylist and designer colorist at the Zahir Ziani Salon. "It ensures you, the client, receive a thorough hair wash while getting a color service."

In other words, your post-color wash ensures that you're getting the full, complete service that you were guaranteed when you booked your hair appointment. And that's not the only reason hairstylists wash your hair after coloring it, either. That thorough rinse also prevents your locks from looking weighed down and greasy, Plus, washing it protects your scalp from nasty buildup.

"If hair isn’t washed after being colored, the color products can be left sitting on your scalp, which can get irritated," says Gandolfo. "It also may make your hair feel greasy and heavy." 

And, as anyone who's ever dealt with an irritated scalp knows, scalp irritation can result in dandruff, rashes, oiliness, and even stunted hair growth. After all, healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp, and you can't have either if you're sitting with excess dye on at your roots. 

Ensuring a Color-Safe Wash

Although washing your hair after it's colored is in the best interest of your scalp and follicular health, you may, of course, be concerned that over-washing will dry out your hair or even dull the intensity of your new 'do. Gandolfo reassures us, though, that there's nothing to worry about.

"Washing right after color does not impact the intensity of the hair color," she reassures. "However, bright reds and intense rainbow colors will fade after multiple washes."

If you're concerned, speak with your colorist about how you can account for this, and what products you can use to maintain your new color for as long as possible. 

"The best shampoos to use after coloring your hair include sulfate-free shampoos and specific shampoos for color-treated hair," says Gandolfo. "You may also want to look for a color-treated shampoo that contains SPF if you live in a warm climate or are outside exposed to UV rays to protect your hair color."

Below, a few of the best options for that post-color wash. You can also consider a purple shampoo to retain highlights and prevent blonde or gray hair from going brassy, or a blue shampoo for maintaining your best brown yet. 

Meet the Expert

Allison Gandolfo
Allison Gandolfo

Allison Gandolfo is a hairstylist and designer colorist Zahir Ziani Salon, which is located in the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in New York City. 

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, gabrielleulubay.medium.com. Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at @suburban.graffiti.art