Sunkissed Tresses: Can You Go On Sunbeds After Hair Dye?

Color-treated hair requires special care, especially when it comes to sun exposure. Many who regularly dye their hair also enjoy tanning beds for that sun-kissed glow. This leaves an important question: can you go on sunbeds after hair dye? The answer is yes, but certain precautions should be taken.

After having your hair colored or lightened, it is recommended to wait at least a few days before using a tanning bed. This allows time for the dye chemicals to fully settle into the hair shaft before subjecting it to UV rays. The exact number of days to wait may vary depending on the specific hair dye and your hair’s condition. Tanning too soon could cause a reaction between the tanning bed chemicals and hair dye chemicals, resulting in fading or unexpected color changes.

Once an adequate waiting period has passed, there are steps you can take to minimize UV damage when tanning with color-treated hair. Using heat-protectant products containing UV blockers is advised to act as a barrier against rays. Those with permed or chemically treated hair should be especially vigilant about sun protection to maintain vibrancy. Limiting time in the tanning bed can also reduce fading and dryness. While sunbeds are okay after dyeing, caution is required to keep hair looking healthy and colorful. Waiting a few days and taking protective measures allows you to tan safely.

Understanding Hair Dye

To understand whether it’s safe to tan after coloring your hair, it’s helpful to first learn about how hair dye works and the effect it has on your locks.

How Hair Dye Works

Hair dye works by using chemical compounds that change the color of your natural hair pigment. The main active ingredient is oxidation dye, which reacts with the amino acids in your hair’s cortex layer to deposit or remove color.

Developers are mixed with dyes to activate them. Common developers include hydrogen peroxide or ammonia. These lift cuticles to allow dye to penetrate. After processing time, the cuticle closes over the new color.

Types of Hair Dye

There are three main categories of hair dye:

  • Permanent hair dye – Contains ammonia and oxidative dye. It penetrates the cortex and expands color molecules to achieve permanent results.
  • Semi-permanent hair dye – Deposits dye onto the cuticle layer only. Results last 4-6 weeks. ammonia-free. Less damaging.
  • Temporary hair dye – Coats the outside of the hair shaft. Lasts 1-2 shampoos. Least damaging.

Chemicals in Hair Dye

Some chemicals commonly found in permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes include:

  • Ammonia – Swells cuticle to let dye enter cortex. Irritating.
  • Hydrogen peroxide – Lightens hair’s base pigment so new color appears brighter.
  • Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) – Oxidative dye that permanently alters hair color.
  • Resorcinol – Bonding agent that helps dye adhere to hair.

How Hair Dye Affects Hair

The chemicals in permanent dyes can damage hair over time by:

  • Breaking disulfide bonds in keratin protein
  • Removing natural oils
  • Irritating scalp

Frequent dyeing makes hair more porous and prone to dryness. For those with color-treated hair, UV damage from sunbeds is particularly concerning, as the hair structure is already compromised.

Risks of Using Sunbeds After Hair Dye

Now that we understand how hair dye works, let’s explore the specific risks of using sunbeds after coloring your hair.

UV Rays Can Damage Hair

The UV rays emitted from tanning beds penetrate deep into the hair shaft. This causes:

  • Dryness – UV rays degrade oils needed for moisture.
  • Brittleness – Rays rupture bonds in keratin protein, leading to breakage.
  • Fading – UV light can cause color molecules to break down faster.

These effects are amplified in hair that’s been chemically treated with dye. The processing makes hair more vulnerable to UV damage.

Increased Fading of Hair Color

Many people dye their hair to achieve a rich, vibrant hue. However, UV rays have a tendency to significantly fade colored hair.

Over time, the light breaks down the dye molecules deposited in the cortex. This causes color to look washed out and dull. Those with bold, vivid colors have an even higher risk of fading.

To keep hair looking freshly dyed, exposure to UV light should be limited, especially in the days immediately after coloring.

Chemical Reaction Risks

Some sources claim tanning too soon after dyeing can cause chemicals in the hair dye to interact with chemicals from the tanning bed.

However, research on this specific risk is limited. Still, it’s recommended to wait a few days as a precaution before mixing these two chemical processes.

Potential issues include the dye and tanning ingredients combining to create a new compound that alters hair color. For example, unexpected color changes in highlights or lowlights.

More research is still needed on chemical interactions between hair dyes and tanning beds. Waiting 3-5 days allows both sets of chemicals to fully settle before mixing.

Waiting Period After Dyeing Hair Before Tanning

Given the risks, you should avoid using sunbeds immediately after dyeing your hair. But how long should you actually wait?

Factors That Determine Waiting Period

There are two main factors that influence the waiting period:

  • Type of hair dye – Permanent dyes require a longer waiting period than semi-permanent since they penetrate deeper into the hair shaft.
  • Condition of your hair – More damaged or porous hair will need a longer waiting period to regain protective oils before UV exposure.

Generally, it is recommended to wait at least 48-72 hours (2-3 days) after dyeing your hair to go on a sunbed. But the following guidelines provide more details:

  • Permanent Dye – Wait 3-5 days
  • Semi-permanent Dye – Wait 2-3 days
  • Bleaching/Highlighting – Wait 4-5 days

For those with severely damaged hair, waiting 5-7 days is preferable. It gives your hair more time to recuperate from the trauma of dyeing before subjecting it to UV rays.

Type of Hair Dye Waiting Period Reason
Permanent Dye 3-5 days Permanent dye penetrates deep into the cortex and expands color molecules for long-lasting results. The chemicals require more time to fully settle and bond before UV light exposure which could cause oxidation issues.
Demi-Permanent Dye 2-3 days Demi-permanent dye coats the cuticle layer and results last 4-6 weeks. The chemicals do not penetrate as deep as permanent dye. A shorter waiting period is needed for the dye to set properly.
Semi-Permanent Dye 2-3 days Semi-permanent dye only deposits color on the outer cuticle layer and washes out within 4-6 weeks. The more surface-level application requires less time to set fully before UV light exposure compared to permanent dyes.
Temporary Dye 1-2 days Temporary dye simply coats the outside of the hair strand and lasts only 1-2 shampoos. The dye sits fully on the surface rather than penetrating so only needs 1-2 days before tanning.
Bleaching/Highlighting 4-5 days Bleach penetrates into the cortex to lift and remove pigment. The rough chemical processing requires a longer waiting period before subjecting hair to additional damage from UV rays.

Allows Dye to Settle In

Waiting the recommended time frame gives the dye chemicals a chance to fully settle into the cortex of your hair.

If you go tanning too soon, the UV exposure could oxidize the dye before it bonds within your hair, causing fading. The waiting period allows the color to set properly so it remains stable even with sun exposure.

Gives Hair Time to Regain Oils

The dyeing process removes some of hair’s natural oils. These oils protect against environmental damage.

Waiting a few days before tanning allows your scalp to start replenishing the protective lipids and fatty acids along the hair shaft. This helps shield it from some of the drying effects of UV light.

Precautions for Tanning After Dyeing Hair

Once the waiting period has passed, there are still precautions you should take when using sunbeds with color-treated hair:

Use Heat Protectant Sprays

Invest in a heat protectant spray made for color-treated hair. Look for ones that contain UV absorbers like benzophenone.

Spritzing this onto your hair before tanning creates a protective barrier that blocks some of the fading and dryness-causing rays.

Reduce Tanning Session Time

Limit your time in the tanning bed to the minimum recommended for your skin tone. Staying in too long triples your risks.

Aim for sessions of 10 minutes or less. This still allows you to gradually build color while minimizing exposure for fragile, dyed hair.

Wear Protective Hairstyles

Style your hair in braids, buns or under a hat when going into a sunbed after dyeing. This shields your strands from the rays.

If hair is down, ensure it’s coated in protectant spray. Also cover hair with a light scarf or cap if desired.

Deep Condition After Tanning

Deep condition your hair with a hydrating mask after tanning to counteract drying effects. Focus conditioner on ends which are oldest and most porous.

Look for reparative masks with oils, ceramides, proteins and silicones to nourish hair and keep dyed color vibrant.

Alternatives to Tanning Beds After Dyeing Hair

To avoid risks altogether from UV exposure after dyeing, consider alternative ways to achieve a glowy, tan look:

Sunless Tanning Lotions

Sunless tanners, like self-tanner lotions, provide a temporary bronzed look without UV damage. Most contain an active ingredient called DHA which stains the top layer of skin.

Results last about 5-7 days. Just exfoliate regularly to maintain an even application. It’s best to patch test first.

Spray Tanning

Some salons offer spray tanning for full body application, or you can buy at-home bronzing mists. Like sunless tanners, DHA in the formula reacts with skin to darken it.

Results are fairly natural-looking and last around a week with proper exfoliating. But ensure the eyes, lips and nose are covered to prevent irritation.

Use Bronzing Powders and Makeup

Bronzing powders and creams allow you to mimic a sun-kissed glow. Focus on applying to areas the sun naturally hits like your forehead, nose and décolletage.

For a temporary fix, use bronzing drops that can be added into your regular moisturizer. Avoid shimmery products which look less natural.

Avoid Sun During Peak Hours

If you’ll be in the sun, avoid peak hours between 10am-2pm when rays are strongest. Wear wide-brimmed hats and use protective hair products.

Seeking shade, wearing sun protective clothing and reapplying sunscreen often will allow you to be outside while minimizing UV damage.

Maintaining Healthy Hair After Dyeing

To keep your hair looking its best after dyeing, incorporate tips for hydration and vibrant color maintenance into your regular regimen:

Hydrating Products and Routines

UV rays from sunbeds combined with chemical processing can leave hair extremely dry and parched. Make sure to provide your hair with intensive moisture.

  • Give yourself weekly hydrating hair masks.
  • Swap your regular shampoo for a sulfate-free, gentle formula.
  • Apply a deep conditioner and let sit for 15 minutes after washing.
  • Mix a few drops of hair oil like argan into your conditioner for added moisture.

Protecting and Maintaining Dyed Color

Take steps to make sure your new hair color lasts as long as possible:

  • Rinse hair with cool water instead of hot to prevent color fading.
  • Skip chlorinated pools which can interact with dyes and create a greenish tint.
  • Shampoo less frequently, only when truly needed, to preserve color.
  • Use color-protecting shampoos with UV filters.
  • Get touch up root applications every 6-8 weeks.

Regular Trims and Scalp Massages

Don’t neglect hair upkeep:

  • Trim split ends monthly to protect hair health and color vibrancy.
  • Massage scalp weekly to boost circulation and conditioner absorption.

Protecting Your Hair While Tanning

Getting a tan, whether indoors or outdoors, can wreak havoc on your hair. The UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds can dry out your hair, causing damage and fading dye. It’s especially important to protect dyed and processed hair. Here are some tips to help protect your hair while tanning:

  • Wear a shower capbeanieturbanbandana, or other head covering when using a tanning bed or booth. This creates a barrier between your hair and UV rays to prevent drying and fading. Just make sure to cover your hair fully.
  • Apply a UV protection hair serum or leave-in conditioner before tanning. Look for products containing SPF or other UV filters that can help prevent damage from the sun.
  • Use color-preserving shampoos and conditioners to maintain your hair color’s vibrancy. Deep condition regularly to prevent it from drying out.
  • If your hair is already fried from dyeing or other processing, wait at least 48 hours before tanning. This gives your hair time to regain moisture and stability.
  • Consider airbrush spray tans instead of UV tanning. The DHA in spray tan solution can stain dyed hair so cover your hair to prevent burning. But it won’t directly dry out the hair like UV rays.

I always use a satin-lined beanie or headscarf to keep my highlighted locks protected and hydrated when I tan in a tanning bed. It helps prevent damage in a shorter time than laying out in the sun all day. Taking proper precautions allows me to tan without frying my color-treated hair.

Frequently Asked Questions about Going on Sunbeds After Hair Dye

How long should I wait to go on a sunbed after dyeing my hair?

It’s recommended to wait at least 48-72 hours (2-3 days) after hair dyeing before using a sunbed. For permanent dyes, wait 3-5 days. For bleaching/highlighting wait 4-5 days. Those with damaged hair may want to wait 5-7 days.

Why do I need to wait to tan after dyeing my hair?

Waiting gives the dye chemicals time to fully set and bond within your hair. It also allows your hair to partially regain the oils that protect against UV damage. Tanning too soon can cause issues like fading.

What risks are there from using sunbeds after dyeing hair?

Risks include dryness and brittleness from UV damage, fading of hair color, and potential chemical reactions between the tanning bed and hair dye chemicals.

What precautions should I take if tanning after coloring my hair?

Use a heat protectant spray, limit tanning time, wear protective styles like braids or buns, and deep condition your hair after tanning.

How soon can I tan after using semi-permanent hair dye?

For semi-permanent dyes that coat the outer cuticle, waiting 2-3 days before tanning is generally sufficient. Less time is needed for the color to set compared to permanent dyes.

Are there risks of going swimming after dyeing my hair?

Swimming, especially in chlorinated pools, can cause issues like color fading, greenish tints, and dryness. Wait 3-5 days after dyeing before swimming.

What are some alternatives to tanning beds after I dye my hair?

Consider spray tans, self-tanners, bronzing makeup and avoiding peak sun hours. These provide color without directly damaging dyed hair.

What tips prevent fading and maintain vibrant hair color after dyeing?

Rinse with cool water, use color-protecting shampoos, limit chlorine exposure, minimize washing, and get regular touch up appointments.


With some preparation and TLC, you can successfully tan after coloring your hair. Just be sure to wait several days, take safety measures, and properly care for your locks. Using good judgement allows you to enjoy the best of both beauty worlds – radiant hair color and sun-kissed skin!

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