How Long After Dyeing Hair Can You Swim? Timing Tips to Protect Color


If you’ve just dyed your hair a gorgeous new shade, chances are you’ll want to show it off on your next beach trip or pool date. But how long should you wait before taking a dip after coloring your hair? As a hair stylist, I often get questions from clients wondering if it’s okay to swim after dyeing their hair and how long they need to wait.

The time needed before swimming varies based on the type of dye used and your hair type. In this guide, we’ll look at how long to wait after dyeing your hair before swimming in pools, lakes, oceans and more. Plus tips to extend the life of your new color if you just can’t wait to dive in!

How Hair Dye Works

To understand why swimming too soon after coloring can damage your hair, it helps to know how dye works on your strands:

  • Hair dye contains pigments that deposit or blend with your natural shade.

  • Developers open the cuticle so dye can penetrate the hair shaft.

  • Ingredients like ammonia swell and lift the cuticles to let pigment in.

  • Dye oxidizes and processes within the cortex for 30-60 minutes.

  • Rinsing and drying sets the color.

When you swim before dye has fully set, the chlorine or saltwater can interact with unoxidized dye molecules still outside the hair and cause fading, discoloration or other issues. Now let’s look at wait times.

How Long to Wait Before Swimming After Dyeing Your Hair

Here are general guidelines on waiting periods before hitting the pool or beach after coloring your locks:

Permanent Hair Dye

Wait time: 7 days

Permanent hair color uses strong chemicals like ammonia and peroxide to open the cuticle and alter your natural pigment. The dye fully penetrates the hair shaft. Avoid swimming for 1 week after to prevent the chlorine from interacting with dye that hasn’t fully set.

Demi-Permanent Hair Dye

Wait time: 5-7 days

Demi-permanent hair dye lasts 4-5 shampoos. The slightly lower ammonia levels mean the cuticle doesn’t open as wide. Some residual dye may still sit on the outside of strands, so wait 5-7 days before swimming as chlorine can cause rapid fading.

Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Wait time: 3 days

Semi-permanent hair dyes simply coat the outside of your hair with dye rather than penetrating the cuticle. They are ammonia-free. Wait just 72 hours before taking a dip to allow the color to set. Pool chemicals have less effect on these gentler dyes.

Temporary Hair Dye

Wait time: 1 day

Temporary rinses and colored hair sprays contain very little pigment. They wash out in just one shampoo. Wait just 24 hours before swimming to allow the color to fully dry on your hair. Afterward, the pool chemicals will do little damage.

Bleached/Highlighted Hair

Wait time: 1 week

Bleaching and highlighting require peroxide or other lighteners to lift your base color. Avoid pools and saltwater for at least 7 days afterwards. Both can accelerate color fading and further dry already compromised hair.

How Does Chlorine and Saltwater Impact Hair Dye?

Both pool and ocean water can affect hair dye results but in slightly different ways:

  • Chlorine – Fades color rapidly, interacts with pigment molecules, can turn blonde hair green.

  • Saltwater – Can fade dye faster than normal, drying effect leads to brittle hair.

Wet hair also absorbs more chlorine and salt than dry hair. So saturate your hair with clean water before swimming to prevent excessive absorption of these damaging compounds into your freshly dyed strands.

Tips for Swimming After Coloring Your Hair

If you just can’t wait the recommended 7+ days to hop into the pool, here are some tips to protect your new hue:

  • Apply a hair mask or oil before swimming to block absorption of water.

  • Coat hair in leave-in conditioner to protect color and provide moisture.

  • Wear a swim cap to limit water exposure.

  • Wet hair thoroughly before getting in water to prevent chlorine or saltwater saturation.

  • Rinse with fresh water immediately after swimming to wash away chemical residues.

  • Shampoo and condition hair within a few hours after swimming to deeply cleanse strands.

  • Use a post-swim treatment to boost moisture levels.

  • Avoid direct sun exposure which accelerates fading from pool water.

  • Wait as long as possible before getting hair wet for maximum color protection.

With some additional measures taken, you can enjoy a refreshing swim without totally ruining a brand new dye job. But waiting the full recommended time is always best.

How Other Factors Impact Processing Time

Along with the type of dye you choose, a few other factors impact how long you should wait before swimming after coloring your strands:

Hair Porosity

For hair with higher porosity that absorbs dye quickly, wait at least the standard 7 days before getting strands wet. Lower porosity hair resists color absorption so you may be able to swim sooner depending on formula.

Hair Condition

Healthy, conditioned hair holds onto color better than damaged strands. Wait the full suggested processing time if your hair is very dry or brittle before a swim. For strong, smooth hair in good shape, you may be able to take a dip sooner.

Hair Density

Fine, thin hair often needs a shorter waiting period than coarse, dense hair. The dye saturates thinner hair faster. For thick hair, stick to the recommended timeline to ensure even color development.

Color Shade

Light colors lift and deposit faster than darker tones. If you chose a darker shade, wait the full processing time before swimming to prevent uneven results. With lighter colors, the suggested timeline is usually sufficient.

Q & A About Swimming After Dyeing Hair

Still have questions about swimming after freshly coloring your strands? Here are some commonly asked questions:

Can I swim after a semi-permanent gloss treatment?

Yes, after waiting the 72 hour period to allow the subtle semi-permanent color to set. Gloss coats the outside of hair so chlorine won’t affect results as much.

Is pool water bad for dyed hair?

Pool chemicals like chlorine can cause major fading and dryness when hair is dyed. Saltwater has similar effects. That’s why waiting before a swim is key.

Can I go in the ocean after coloring my hair?

You can, but wait the recommended 7+ days first. Saltwater can strip color from hair even faster than chlorine in some cases, so patience is important.

How soon can I get my hair wet in the shower after dyeing it?

Wait 48 hours before washing dyed hair with shampoo. But wetting your strands with clean water beforehand can help protect color at the pool.

Does leaving chlorine in my hair turn it green?

When chlorine sits in bleached or very light blonde hair, oxidation turns it a greenish hue. Rinse hair ASAP after swimming to avoid this.

The Takeaway

When wondering “how long after coloring my hair can I go swimming?”, be sure to consider the dye type and your unique hair properties. While an occasional dip won’t totally ruin a new hue, repeated exposure to pool and saltwater before dye sets will.

For best results, wait the recommended 1 week for permanent color, 3 days for semi-permanent and 5-7 days for demi-permanent before enjoying your favorite water activities. With some preventative steps taken, you can maintain gorgeous hair color all summer long and still take refreshing dips without worry.

Keep Your Hair Color From Fading While Swimmimg


Will chlorine ruin dyed hair?

Hair dye often leads to damage like dryness, breakage, and frizz. The harsh chlorine from pools and hot tubs worsens this, fading your hair color and harming already-weak strands.

How do I protect my newly dyed hair from chlorine?

Go for a presoak.

“Head over to one of those rinse-off stations, and wet your hair with clean water before you get in the pool,” says Goddard. “This trick lets your hair absorb less chlorine, or salt water if you’re dipping in the ocean.

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