How Long Does It Take to Dye Hair? A Complete Timing Guide.

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Ready for a change and wondering how long will it take to dye your hair? The answer, my friend, is not so simple.

The process of transforming your hair color is as unique as you are, and the time it takes can vary just as much.

But don’t worry, we’ve got all the details lined up to help you plan your hair color journey.

Whether you’re considering a salon visit or taking the DIY route, understanding the timing can make all the difference. Let’s get to it.

how long does it take to dye hair infographic - Hair Dyeing Method	Approximate Time Required
All-over Color	Up to 2 hours
Lightening Hair	Up to 3 hours
Highlights/Lowlights/Balayage	3½ - 4 hours
Home Application on Virgin Hair	10 minutes
Root Touch-up at Home	30 minutes
Hair Dye Development Time	30-40 minutes
Total Process at Home	Up to 90 minutes
Salon Visit (Single Process)	Up to 2 hours
Salon Visit with Haircut	Additional 30 minutes
Salon Visit with Styling	Time varies

What the experts say:

“If you’re using a box it will tell you processing time. They’re all different. Professional hair color is generally 30 to 45 mins for single processing.”

Nancy Jo, Cosmetologist

“It doesn’t take more than 45 minutes to color your hair with regular permanent hair color. The application is quite simple. It’s understanding what color you need to enhance your complexion is not simple or understanding what to do in the unexpected cases makes coloring hair complicated.”

Eva Simone, Hairstylist, 30 Years in the Hair Industry

“Permanent hair dye has a 30 min process to complete it’s full cycle, the first 10 open the cuticle, the second 10 deliver the pigment through the open cuticle into the cortex where the melanin is for depositing, the last 10 is to let the pigments settle in to & change the melanin in the hairs cortex.”

Versions Vividamnesia, Master Hair Colorist

How Long Does It Take to Dye Hair: Factors That Affect Timing.

When you’re ready to switch up your hair color, it’s natural to wonder how long you’ll be sitting in the chair or hovering over your bathroom sink.

The truth is, the time it takes to dye hair isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. It’s like asking how long a road trip will take without knowing the route. Several key factors come into play:

  1. Hair Texture and Density: If your hair is thick and curly, it requires more time to ensure the dye is evenly applied and fully saturated. Fine and straight hair, on the other hand, typically processes color faster due to easier saturation.
  2. Initial Hair Color vs. Desired Color: The process of lightening hair, especially if it’s dark to begin with, tends to be more time-consuming because it may involve bleaching and additional treatments to reach the desired lightness. Darkening hair is usually a quicker process.
  3. Previous Hair Treatments: Virgin hair, which has never been dyed, tends to absorb color more readily, often resulting in a faster dyeing process. Hair that’s been dyed before might have variations in porosity, which can affect how long the color takes to take hold.
  4. Coloring Technique: Detailed coloring techniques like highlights, lowlights, or balayage require a more intricate application and typically take longer than a single-process color application.
A woman dyes her hair in her home bathroom.

Practical Advice: Planning Your Hair Coloring Session.

Whether you’re booking a salon appointment or planning a DIY hair dye at home, timing is everything.

For salon visits, consider the complexity of the service—simple root touch-ups may take less time than full highlights.

Schedule your appointment on a day when you’re not pressed for time, allowing for a relaxed experience.

For at-home dyeing, read the box instructions beforehand and allocate time accordingly, remembering to add an extra 30 minutes as a buffer.

Always perform a strand test to gauge how your hair reacts to the dye, which can also give you a better idea of how much time you’ll need.

Lastly, if you have an event you want to look your best for, dye your hair a few days in advance to give yourself time resolve any unexpected results!

How long does it take to dye hair at home?

Dyeing your hair at home typically takes about 90 minutes from start to finish. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  1. Preparation Time (5-10 minutes): Lay out your materials, put on gloves, and protect your clothing and skin.
  2. Application Time (20-30 minutes): This varies depending on hair length and thickness, but it’s how long it usually takes to apply the dye thoroughly.
  3. Development Time (30-40 minutes): The dye needs to sit on your hair to penetrate and develop the color.
  4. Rinsing and Conditioning (10-15 minutes): After the development time, you’ll rinse out the dye and use a conditioner.

Top Tips for Home Hair Dyeing

  • Always perform a patch test 48 hours before to avoid allergic reactions.
  • Use a timer to make sure you’re not leaving the dye in too long or rinsing it out too early.
  • Follow the instructions on the box precisely for the best results.
  • Apply petroleum jelly on your hairline to prevent skin staining.
  • Have a friend help with hard-to-reach areas like the back to ensure even coverage.

Watch and learn: How to dye your hair at home.

If you are planning on dyeing your hair at home, here’s a great video tutorial that guides you through how to dye your own hair successfully and safely.

YouTube video

How long does it take to dye hair at a salon?

Dyeing your hair at a salon typically takes between 1 to 4 hours. This includes the time it takes to put the dye in your hair, the development time and the washing, rinsing, and styling.

Here’s a general guide:

  1. Consultation (5-15 minutes): Discussing your desired outcome with the stylist.
  2. Application Time (30-60 minutes): Varies based on the dye technique and hair length/density.
  3. Development Time (30-45 minutes): The color needs time to set in.
  4. Washing and Conditioning (5-10 minutes): Rinsing out the dye and applying post-coloring treatments.
  5. Drying and Styling (20-60 minutes): The duration can vary widely depending on hair length and style complexity.

The best thing is, you can sit back, relax and dive into a magazine and let the pros take care of your hair dreams.

Salon Tips

  • Schedule your appointment on a day when you’re not pressed for time.
  • Bring pictures to clearly communicate what you want.
  • Aftercare is crucial; ask your stylist for specific product recommendations to maintain your new color.

Specific Color Processing Times.

How long does it take to dye hair blonde?

When you want to dye your hair blonde, expect around two hours as a minimum.

This process takes much longer than dying your hair any other color because the lightening agents in the product need time to strip your natural pigment away completely.

You may need to have a couple of bleaching processes done in one day (this is called double-processing) but this is very hard on your hair health!

If you don’t want an all-over bleach job and just need to lift a few levels of darkness from your strands, then expect around an hour and a half for this process.

How long does it take to dye hair brown?

Dyeing your hair brown is actually faster than dying it blonde.

This is because the color doesn’t have to strip all of your pigment away, so there isn’t as much work involved or time spent waiting for this strand to be light enough to accept any color.

Brown dyes are usually just one hour because you don’t need bleach but if you want lighter strands then expect around two hours.

What’s the average time to dye hair black?

Dyeing hair black can also take anywhere up to two hours depending on what tone you’re going for and how dark your natural color is in the first place.

If you’re looking for a jet-black shade, then expect at least three hours when you include bleach in this process.

If you’re aiming for a darker brown tone, then expect around two hours if you are not including any bleaching in the process.

How long does it take to dye hair red?

Dyeing your hair red is one of the fastest processes out of all because there isn’t any need to strip your natural pigment away like with other colors.

Red dyes only take one hour to fully coat your strands and they usually come pre-mixed so no extra time is necessary to spend mixing up different shades and tones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I leave hair dye in for 15 minutes?

Most dyes can be left in for as little as 15 minutes, but it is recommended that you leave the dye in for at least half an hour.

However, if your strands are very resistant to color then it might take up to two hours to reach the desired shade.

These products usually only take 30 minutes or less because they are already pre-mixed and don’t require any extra time with a developer or mixing dye into this solution.  

If you’re dyeing your roots first, you’ll need to leave the hair dye in for longer at the roots.

Then you massage it through the rest of your hair for the last 10-15 minutes to even up the color through the rest of your strands

How long does it take for hair dye to fade?

The amount of time it takes for your hair color to fade all depends on what brand you are using.

Some dyes last up to six weeks, while others wear out in less than three weeks! Usually, the more expensive the dye is, the longer it lasts.

Black hair dye is one of the most stubborn colors there is and can take up to 12 shampoos before this shade finally fades away.

Red hair dye only takes around 7-10 washes but usually last around 3 weeks unless you frequently wash your hair or expose it to chlorine or salt water frequently.

Blondes only need 5-7 washes before they start fading away their color but it can be maintained and made to last longer with the right toners.

How long you should wait to dye your hair again also depends on other factors like the porosity of your hair and how long it holds onto dye, and how quickly your hair grows!

Maintaining Your New Hue: Aftercare Tips for Dyed Hair.

Congratulations on your freshly dyed locks! To keep that vibrant color looking salon-fresh, follow these simple aftercare tips:

  • Wait Before the First Wash: Resist washing your hair for at least 24 to 48 hours after dyeing to allow the color to set.
  • Sulfate-Free Shampoo: When you do wash, use a sulfate-free shampoo to prevent stripping the color.
  • Cold Water Rinse: Rinse your hair with cold water to keep the hair cuticles closed, locking in the color.
  • Color-Safe Conditioner: Invest in a conditioner designed for colored hair to provide the extra nourishment it needs.
  • Heat Styling with Care: Use heat protectant products before styling, and try to limit the use of hot tools.
  • Touch-Up Roots: Keep your roots looking good with a touch-up kit or visit your stylist for a quick fix between full dye jobs.
  • Protect from the Sun: UV rays can fade your color, so wear a hat or use hair products with UV protection when you’re out and about.
  • Regular Trims: Regular trims help prevent split ends, which can make your color look dull and faded.

Parting words

So, how long does it take to get your hair dyed? Well that’s a question with many answers.

But we hope this article has helped clear some things up and you’re now armed with the information necessary to make an educated decision about when is best for you to schedule in getting your locks done!

If you need some help choosing colors, you can take our quiz! Just answer a few quick questions and we’ll tell you the right colors that will suit you.

Which Hair Color Suits You?


  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!

  • Enza Piazza, Hair Stylist & Color Consultant

    I’m Enza Piazza, your go-to hair stylist and color consultant with over 23 years of professional salon experience bringing vibrancy and life to hair of all hues. My Italian roots from sunny Sicily infuse passion into every snip and color, a passion that’s been recognized with top honor awards including bridal and party hair at the National Hairdressers Federation’s Championships. After training in Surrey, UK’s most prestigious salons including Head Master Academy, I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and set up Enza Hair Styling, offering tailored hair care for 13 years, and treating each client like family. Away from the salon, I cherish moments as a proud Nonna to grandson Joseph and as a playful companion to my Jack Russell, Bo.