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Accidentally Washed Hair Before Bleaching, What Next?

Did you know that roughly 32% of women have altered their hair color? Bleaching is one of the most common ways to change your hair color. And it is one of the most damaging ways too. Hence it requires precaution to make the process safer

It’s better not to wash your hair before bleaching. However, it isn’t severe if you’ve accidentally done it. 

So if you are looking for the answer to, “What if I accidentally washed my hair before bleaching?” Here are all things you need to know about bleaching your hair and when to wash it.

If you accidentally washed your hair before bleaching, it’s best to wait. Ideally, wait at least two days. Protective oils need time to build up. If possible, wait three days or longer. However, there’s no set time. A minimum of 24 hours is suggested.

If you must bleach today, be extra cautious. Expect more scalp irritation and possible skin burns. Use heavy oil, like coconut or olive, to nourish your strands before bleaching. Stick to quality bleach and low-volume developer for safety.

What Can Happen If You Wash Your Hair Before Bleaching?

There are both pros and cons to washing your hair before bleaching. However, it’s better to avoid washing your hair before you begin bleaching.

Bleach is a harsh chemical that can cause severe damage to your skin. Small amounts won’t hurt you unless ingested, but skin irritation is a guarantee with bleach.

Bleach is corrosive enough to eat through metals, burn your skin, and even blind you. Above all, never ingest any bleach under any circumstances.

With such a strong chemical, protection is crucial. Your skin and hair produce oils that can help defend against foreign materials, including bleach. This oil is the primary reason you shouldn’t wash your hair too often, as the oil helps keep your skin safe.

However, too much oil isn’t good. It can cause skin irritation, dandruff, or clogged pores. But when it comes to bleaching your hair, oil is protective. Washing your hair before bleaching removes this protective oil from your scalp and hair.

washed hair before bleaching

When the bleach touches your scalp then it will cause immediate irritation. The longer the bleach sits on your scalp, the more damage it can do to your skin. In severe cases, this can cause significant damage that can also harm your hair.

Overall, it’s much better to bleach your hair without washing it first. The protective oils can stop the bleach from harming you while you wash your hair.

If you wash your hair beforehand, exercise caution while bleaching your hair to minimize its contact with your skin.

How Long to Wait for Bleaching After Washing Your Hair?

Your time to wait after washing and before bleaching will vary depending on your hair type and scalp, although it can be on average between 24 hours and 3 days.

It is suggested that you wait two days at least and three days if possible. For most people, two days is enough to build up the protective oils you’ll need.

If you’re in doubt, consider contacting a local hair specialist and see what they think would be best. That way, you can ensure you’re getting an expert opinion instead of winging it. 

“I Accidentally Washed My Hair Before Bleaching” – What to Do?

accidentally washed hair before bleaching

If you realized, “Oh no, I accidentally washed my hair before bleaching,” and wondering what to do in this situation, let’s take a closer look at your options.

To begin, start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Can you wait before bleaching?
  • Do you need to bleach today?

Wait Before Bleaching

If you’ve washed your hair, you should wait several days before you begin bleaching. On average, it’s suggested that you wait at least two days. For most people, two days is enough to build up the protective oils you’ll need to avoid irritation.

However, most will suggest waiting a minimum of three days, and others will recommend only waiting a day before bleaching your hair.

In summary, there’s no set time on how long you should wait. It’s best to wait at least 24 hours, but it’s generally recommended to wait longer.

If you were planning to bleach today but aren’t in a rush, it’s best to simply wait. 

If you can, wait at least one day and check to see if your scalp feels oily enough to bleach your hair. If not, wait another day. You can always go to a local hair salon and have them bleach your hair as well if you prefer.

Need to Bleach Today?

It’s best to wait a day or two before bleaching your hair if you’ve just washed it. However, you may be styling your hair for an event. 

If you feel the need to bleach your hair anyway, exercise a bit of extra caution and know the effects of having washed hair.

You’ll likely experience more scalp irritation than usual. You may also find that your skin burns, indicating the bleach sat against your skin for too long.

Practice caution while bleaching your hair, and avoid letting the chemical near your scalp. Use a heavy oil (coconut or olive) a couple of hours before bleaching and let it sit to nourish your strands. Make sure to use quality bleach and low volume developer to keep your hair safe.

Things You Should Avoid Before Bleaching

There’s more to avoid other than washing your hair. We won’t include hair washing in this list, but know that it’s the most important thing to avoid. Otherwise, make sure to avoid these three things.


avoiding heat before bleaching

Heat can cause significant damage to your hair. The heat is likely to weaken your hair, which will make it more brittle when the bleach is applied.

Heat can cause hair to split, break, or dry out. Once this occurs, your nice new bleached highlights can become locks of dead hair.

Avoid using heat-styling tools like flat irons for at least a week. Doing so can help make sure you don’t suffer from depigmentation.


things to avoid before bleaching

It’s best not to wash your hair, but that doesn’t mean you want it dirty. Using shampoo or conditioner the night before you bleach your hair is a no-go, but that doesn’t mean your hair should have dirt or other refuse in it.

Avoid doing too much outdoors if you can, as this will cause airborne dirt and matter to enter your hair. If you can, spend the day or two before bleaching your hair indoors and without much exertion. That way, you avoid dirt, dust, and sweat in your hair during bleaching.

Hair Oil

avoid using oil before bleaching

We don’t mean the oils we’ve been telling you to preserve! Your skin naturally produces oil, but there are other oils that you may put into your hair.

It’s common to put leave-in conditioners and shampoos, or styling oils in your hair. However, these can have a drastically negative effect if they’re in your hair during bleaching.

Some oils will stop your bleach from taking hold of your hair. This situation can cause uneven, lackluster bleaching. Worst of all, you may not be able to fix the bad bleach job without damaging your hair significantly.

Others can cause your bleach to do more damage to your hair on contact. Some oils may react negatively with the bleach, making it harsher on your hair.

Overall, try to avoid using any products on your hair before bleaching. Shampoo and condition a few days in advance, but avoid oils, dyes, leave-in conditioners, and similar products. Once your hair is bleached, you can safely return to these products.


Washing your hair before bleaching removes your skin’s protective oils. As a result, you significantly increase the risk of damaging or irritating your skin and hair.

If you’ve already washed your hair, consider waiting one to three days for your skin to produce more protective oils. If waiting isn’t an option, you can bleach your hair with extra care or seek a professional hair stylist.