Home » Blog » Can you Swim After Dying your Hair? Table of Contents Famously, swimming and hair dye do not go together. You’ve probably heard all of the horror stories about hair dye “bleeding” into pools, hair color prematurely fading, and nasty reactions that instantly transform one color into another. Naturally, you’d like to avoid these possibilities while keeping your hair dye looking as good as the day it was applied. Fortunately, we know just the secret that’ll make your haircare and swimming dreams come true. The short answer Whether you got highlights, balayage, or your whole head colored, and your ready to slip into your swimsuit, you will need to wait for around a week before swimming if you’ve used permanent hair dye. On the other hand, if there’s a semi-permanent dye in your hair, you’ll have to wait around three to four days before going swimming. However, some haircare experts argue that It’s not the wait that matters but what you do to protect your hair before and after. We’ll be covering all angles and getting to the bottom of this hotly-debated topic, discovering how you can keep your hair looking fabulous and fully colored all the while. Swimming After Hair Dye First things first … Can you swim after dying your hair? Yes, you can swim after dying your hair. However, you will need to wait three days to a full week, depending on what type of hair dye you use, with semi-permanent hair dye generally needing 3 days to settle and permanent dye – a whole week. Why do you Have to Wait to Swim After Dying Your Hair? After being applied, hair dye needs time to settle. This includes some time even after the first wash. However, the difference between how permanent and semi-permanent dye takes to the hair also determines the reasons why they shouldn’t be immersed in water right away. Semi-permanent Hair Dye This temporary form of dye only coats each strand with color instead of penetrating deeper. The chemicals contained in semi-permanent dye are also weaker than those used in permanent dye. As a result, chemical reactions can only occur on the strand rather than within. Non-permanent hair color can be shampooed out eventually. Permanent Hair Dye On the other hand, permanent dye not only coats each strand but also penetrates the hair’s cuticles, entering the cortex where it bonks with the hair. Permanent hair dye also contains harsh chemicals that are liable to react with other chemicals around them. Permanent hair color, as the name suggests, permanently colors the hair and can only be removed as the hair grows. Maldives $60 Select options Pearl $60 Select options Santorini $60 Select options Turtle Swimsuit $49 Select options What Can Happen If You Swim After Dying Your Hair? Your Hair Dye Could Bleed If your color-treated hair hasn’t had time to settle, the pigment may come away from the strands and seep into the surrounding water. The heat of pools can cause the pigment to “loosen.” This, paired with chemical reactions caused by chlorine or saltwater, can essentially strip any excess dye from the hair, not only causing the hair color to fade but also changing the color of the water. Chemical Reactions Permanent hair dye contains harsh chemicals that may react with the chlorine in pool water. If this happens, not only will the dye be affected and fade, but it can also rupture your hair, leading to breakages and split ends. However, chlorine isn’t the only culprit. Continuous exposure to saltwater can make your hair color and toner fade much faster. Can you Swim in Chlorine After Dyeing your Hair? Yes and no. You can’t swim in chlorinated water if you’ve just colored your hair, as the dye could bleed or react negatively with the chemical. However, after three days to a week, it becomes safer to swim in chlorinated water with colored hair, but it’s still not recommended as your hair color may fade or become discolored. Effects of Chlorine on your hair Chlorine can cause your hair to: Crack and split. Become dehydrated. Altered both natural and dyed hair color. Weaken, leading to split ends. While chlorine has the biggest effect on color-treated, chemically-treated, or bleached hair, those with thin or fine hair are also at risk. Can you Swim in the Ocean after Dyeing Your Hair? Yes, but you should still take the necessary precautions to lock the dye into your hair. While it’s safer to dye in the ocean than a swim pool after dying your hair, it’s still not recommended. Salt water can “lift” the dye from your hair, causing it to fade much faster. Tile $60 Select options Ruby $60 Select options Popsicle Swim ShortsRated 4.00 out of 5 $60 Select options Pink Striped Matching Couples Swimwear $80 Select options How Does Salt Water Affect Dyed Hair? Saltwater is generally a nightmare for hair. The lightly corrosive substance dehydrates the hair and scalp, leaving it feeling dry, brittle, frizzy, and liable to break. This is because salt water draws out moisture from your hair and scalp, making it particularly harmful to the outter cuticle, otherwise known as the part of the hair that dye “takes to.” This can lead salt water to have a corrosive effect on hair dye, causing the color to fade more quickly. How Long Wait to Swim After Semi-Permanent Hair Dye? With semi-permanent hair dye, you have to wait 72 hours or three days before exposing your hair to pool water and chlorine. The wait is shorter because semi-permanent hair dye doesn’t have the same chemicals as permanent hair dye. How Long Wait to Swim After Permanent Hair Dye? Almost all experts across the haircare industry recommend that you wait at least 7 days before taking the plunge after having permanent dye applied to your hair. Can you swim after dyeing your hair black? You shouldn’t run into any problems swimming after dying your hair black as long as you wait three to seven days, depending on what type of hair dye you used. Can you swim after dyeing your hair blonde? If you’ve dyed your hair blonde, the likelihood is that you bleached it first. If this is the case, you’ll have to take extra care when it comes to exposing your hair to chemicals such as chlorine. Chlorine can react with bleach to create a greenish color which throws off your perfected blonde hue. Can you swim after dyeing your hair red? Yes, as long as you wait around a week before swimming, it’s completely fine to swim after dying your hair red. Can you swim after dyeing your hair brown? Yes, if you’ve colored your hair with brown dye, it should be settled into your hair after around three days to a week, depending on what type of dye you used, meaning it shouldn’t fade in the water. Pineapple Watermelon Swim ShortsRated 5.00 out of 5 $60 Select options Emerald $60 Select options Turtle Matching Couples Swimwear $80 Select options Turtle Swimsuit $49 Select options How to Maintain Your Hair Color While Swimming? Wear a swim cap This is the easiest and most practical solution to protect your colored-treated hair in the water. When you wear a swim cap while swimming, it creates a barrier between your hair and the water. However, while it won’t completely prevent your hair from getting wet, it does prevent full exposure, which minimizes damage. Oiling Massaging oil into your hair and scalp before entering the water is a great way to lock in color while offering your hair the nourishment it needs to recover from potentially harmful conditions. The oil will form a protective layer on your hair and prevent chlorine from tampering with the dye’s pigments. Using oil treatments on colored hair will not only save the color from fading but also make your hair soft and smooth. Jojoba, Coconut, and Argan oil are all popular choices among swimmers. Note: If you plan on swimming outdoors, be sure to cover your oiled hair with a swim cap to prevent it from overheating or “cooking” in the sun. Use Swim Spray If you are worried about the potentially harmful impact of chlorine on your colored hair, you can purchase a swim spray product that blocks chlorine from penetrating your strands. Follow a Post-swim Hair Care Routine The first thing you’ll want to do after exiting the water rinses your hair thoroughly with clean water. Once you’re home (or whenever you get the chance), wash your hair with a clarifying or cleansing shampoo, and apply a leave-in conditioner to restore your hair’s moisture levels. Be sure to let your hair air dry and resist the temptation to use hairdryers as they can dry your hair out further, potentially causing breakages and faded color. If your hair requires further drying, use a microfibre towel to dry any excess water from your hair. Gently brush your hair and remove tangles using a detangling brush designed for wet hair. What About Tanning? When it comes to swimming, the topic of dye and tan generally arise side by side. They both involve changing the shade or color of parts of our bodies, and they’re both affected by water. However, while tan is usually safe in the water, there is the question of whether it is best to apply tan while dry or wet. Interestingly, wet tanning is best in some cases, especially if you want a deeper, more even tan – this stands both for tan out of a bottle and a natural tan from the sun. On the one hand, the tan product can cover your body better while wet, producing a less patch outcome, while the refractive properties of water produce the same effect of a more even color. The Bottom Line While hair dye and swimming aren’t a match made in heaven, they can get along if the necessary precautions and after-care are taken. Saltwater and chlorinated water are particularly hard on hair dye, often causing the pigment to either lift or become miscolored, overall leading to faded, less-than-ideal hair color. Limiting this effect is as simple as waiting 3 days to a week to expose your colored hair to the water, treating your hair with hair the right products and following a post-swimming haircare routine to keep the negative effects at bay. 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