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Can I Save Hair Dye After It’s Mixed With Developer?

Quality hair coloring ingredients can be expensive, so it’s natural to wonder if you can save hair dye after it’s been mixed with the developer. Perhaps you only need a touch-up for your roots, so it feels wasteful to throw away the hair dye once it’s mixed.

But can you actually save hair dye after it’s been mixed with the developer and create a beautiful color again? Keep reading to find out.


  • Do not save mixed hair dye and developer; you must throw it away.
  • Mix hair dye and developer in smaller batches to avoid waste.
  • Peroxide is the catalyst that makes the pigment work, while conditioner acts as a barrier that prevents color from working and dilutes it.
  • Once hair dye is mixed, it begins to oxidize and will not work properly or give the desired results after fully oxidized.
  • You can mix only direct dyes or true semi-deposit-only color with conditioner, which does not require mixing with any developers and works only on staining the hair.

Can I Save Hair Dye After It’s Mixed With Developer? 

No, you should never save hair dye after it’s mixed with the developer. Saving and using the mixture later can result in uneven color and won’t give you the desired shade.

Once the hair dye and developer are mixed, a chemical reaction starts that allows the dye to penetrate the hair shaft and deposit color. This reaction is time-sensitive, and the hair dye mixture will lose its effectiveness after a short period.

It’s best to mix only the amount you need for your current application to avoid ending up wasting it. Store any unmixed hair dye and developer separately. Again following the manufacturer’s instructions will help you maintain the product’s effectiveness and quality for future use.

How long can you store hair dye after it’s been mixed with the developer?

when does mixed hair dye expire

You should use the dye and developer mixture within 30 minutes to 1 hour of mixing (follow the instructions of the hair dye kit).

  • For best effectiveness, use within 30 minutes
  • Generally, discard within 1 hours
  • Effectiveness decreases over time

You must use the hair color that you mixed with the developer within 30 minutes. Any longer, the combination will lose its effectiveness in coloring or lightening the hair.

For best results, mix the hair and developer just before the application.

Why Should I Avoid Preserving Mixed Hair Dye?

Preserving mixed hair dye past its recommended use time can result in numerous undesirable side effects. An old mixed dye can be more likely to cause irritation or even an allergic reaction on your skin.

Most developers for dye use chemicals like peroxide, which is excellent for allowing the color to permeate into your hair but can be harmful over time as it oxidizes.

In addition, the usage of old mixed dye often results in undesirable colors. For example, dyes that use metallic salts in their ingredients can turn your hair green once the dye has oxidized for too long.

Tips for Saving Unused hair dye

If you have unused hair dye (not mixed with developer) you can follow these tips to save it:

  • Mix only what you need
  • Use airtight containers
  • Store in a cool, dark place
  • Avoid temperature fluctuations
  • Label containers with dates

Risks of Using Expired Mixed Hair Dye and Developer

Trying to store mixed hair dye and developer brings with it two risks that should make you rethink using mixed hair color later.

Bad Color Job: After 30 minutes, hair color mixed with developer loses its effectiveness, so you won’t get the long-lasting permanent hair color you want.

Explosion: Hair color that’s mixed with a developer could explode when exposed to sunlight or heat.

So, once the developer and hair dye are blended, the combination has no shelf life. The best thing to do with mixed hair dye is to throw it away. Or, you can read our article about what you can do with leftover hair dye.

How To Minimize Hair Dye Waste 

how to minimize hair dye waste

Since saving mixed hair dye and developer isn’t a good idea, the other option is to mix only as much hair dye and developer as you need. Are you only touching up your roots?

If so, open the hair color kit and mix only as much hair color and developer as you need, and seal the leftovers in their separate bottles to use later.

While you can’t save hair dye after it’s been mixed with the developer, you can save money and prevent waste by mixing only as much hair color as you need!

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