Skip to Content
HomeHair ColorHighlights

How Long to Wait Before Washing Hair After Highlights?

Highlights boost your look and confidence. However, they require specialized care for them to last and to prevent hair damage. If washed too soon after application, the color fades or washes off completely.

On the other hand, you do not want to go too long without washing the hair to prevent oil, dirt, and hair product build-up.

How Long to Wait Before Washing Hair After Highlights?

You should wait at least 72 hours before washing your hair after highlights. This allows the color pigment to set and seal into the hair. If you wash your hair before the 72 hours have lapsed, the color gets washed off and fades.

Although you can wash your hair after 72 hours, there are guidelines to follow to ensure that the color does not fade too fast. For example, do not use sulfate shampoo or hot water.

How to Wash Highlighted Hair

How to Wash Highlighted Hair

Below are guidelines for washing highlighted hair after 72 hours.

Use a Shampoo Appropriate for Colored Hair

Do not use sulfate shampoos as they contain detergents, which corrode the color. By checking the ingredient list, you can easily tell if a shampoo contains sulfate. Avoid shampoos that contain “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate” or “Sodium Laureth Sulfate.”

Go for those that are indicated as suitable for colored hair. They are pricier but ensure that your highlights stay longer. Use purple or blue shampoo and/or conditioner on your highlights once per week.

Use purple shampoo for platinum and blonde highlights and blue shampoo to remove red, orange, and yellow undertones. They enhance the color of the highlights for a more vibrant look.

Do Not Wash Highlighted Hair Daily

Even if you use a shampoo suited for colored hair, washing your hair daily causes the highlights to fade faster. It also strips the hair of natural oils, resulting in hair dryness. Limit the wash cycles to one to three times per week. Use a dry shampoo between washes to remove built-up dirt.

Do Not Use Hot Water to Wash Your Hair

Hot water opens up your cuticles, lending way for the color pigments to be shed. Conversely, cold water closes the cuticles preventing color from leaching. Therefore, when taking a hot shower, cover your hair with a shower cap. When washing it, use cold or lukewarm water.

Keep Your Hair Hydrated

One of the downsides of coloring hair, including highlighting, is that the pigment can cause dryness on the scalp and hair strands. As a result, your hair becomes prone to becoming frizzy and makes it dull.

Therefore, one of the most crucial aspects of post-care for highlighted hair is keeping it hydrated. Use a color-safe deep conditioner after washing it. Use a moisturizing hair mask at least once weekly for smooth, soft, and shiny hair.

Let the Hair Dry

Allow the hair to air dry whenever possible instead of blow drying or flat ironing. Use a soft microfiber towel to remove excess water. Do not rub the hair roughly; rather, pat it to prevent tangling it.

Exposing the hair to high heat makes it drier and prone to breakage. It also fades the color. If you must blow dry or flat iron, do it at low-temperature settings and use a heat protectant.

Tips for Taking Care of Highlighted Hair

Tips for Taking Care of Highlighted Hair

Apply Light Oils

Oils contain vitamins and antioxidants that promote your hair’s health. They also add shine to the hair. If you spend a lot of time under the sun, the oil creates a protective layer against the UV rays.

Use oil best suited for your hair type and texture. Castor oil helps to combat scalp and hair dryness and prevents split ends. Avocado oil is super-moisturizing, and argan oil is rich in antioxidants. Almond oil combats flaky scalps, while extra virgin oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil are heavy and can leave your hair feeling heavy and greasy. Therefore, they should be used sparingly. On the other hand, grapeseed oil and grapeseed oil are light and suitable for everyday use. You may infuse a few drops of essential oil in the main oil for additional benefits.

Avoid Swimming Without a Cap

Apply a strengthening conditioner to your hair and wear a swimming cap before entering the pool. Chlorine dries the hair and fades the color pigment.

Avoid the Sun

Whenever possible, avoid being under the sun for extended periods. UV rays dry your hair and also fade hair color.


Wait at least 72 hours before washing your hair after highlighting it to enable the color pigment to fully set into the hair strands and for the cuticles to close and seal in the color.

After 72 hours, you can wash your hair one to two times per week using sulfate-free shampoo and apply a hydrating conditioner. Observe proper highlighted hair care to keep the color vibrant and shining longer.