Can You Color Rinse Your Hair After a Relaxer?

Color rinses are a safe but temporary way to color your locks.

Photo: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

Relax and color your hair on the same day and you're just begging for a major hair-tastrophy. Permanent hair color can put unnecessary stress on your newly straightened locks, causing breakage and even major loss of your precious tresses. If you'd prefer to keep your locks in good shape -- and really, who doesn't want that? -- but can't go another day without color, you can safely use a color rinse after relaxing.

What It Is and Why It's Safe

Color rinses are a type of temporary hair color that is safe to use on the same day that you relax. Ready to use right out of the bottle, it has the consistency of water and doesn't require mixing the way that permanent colors do. There's no harmful, relaxer-unfriendly chemicals such as ammonia or peroxide and it doesn't have the ability to penetrate your fragile, freshly relaxed hair shaft. Instead, rinses enhance or color your hair by gently coating the surface only of each strand.

Benefits of Using It After Relaxer

Besides the obvious -- and pretty important -- benefit of safety, color rinses have more to offer when it comes down to the appearance of your hair. A previously colored mane can lose some of its vibrancy after it's been relaxed. Using a rinse on the same day that you color, brightens and refreshes your old color, and makes it come alive again. For hair that lacks shine, a clear color rinse can safely add it, regardless of whether or not your mane's been color treated in the past. Because your hair's more porous right after it's been relaxed, the rinse may actually make your color last several shampoos longer and your hair look healthier than before.


While using a temporary rinse is safe for same-day, after relaxer use, it has limitations that aren't ideal if you're looking for long- term results. Rinses are true temporary colors and most wash out with your first shampoo. That means if you're loving the look that it's giving you, you'll need to repeat on a very regular basis, or eventually switch to a permanent color two weeks after straightening your locks. Another thumbs down on this type of hair color is that it won't do much for dark or black hair. Rinses can enhance natural shades and deposit a coat of color, but it's more visible on lighter hair and doesn't have the ability to lift or alter darker locks.

Applying It Right

If you've decided to add a color rinse to your relaxer day schedule, knowing exactly when to apply it to your hair is important. After you've applied, smoothed and thoroughly rinsed the relaxer from your hair, use a neutralizing shampoo. This will put a stop to the caustic action of any remaining relaxer in your hair and bring your pH levels back to normal. Only after you've neutralized your mane should you apply the color rinse.

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