What Should I Use for Deep Conditioning Before I Semi-Dye My Hair?

Conditioning your hair prepares it for the hair color process.

Photo: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

Someone once said that life is an endless set of frustrations – until you find a hairstyle you like. The same can be said for hair color. When you find the perfect shade that makes you feel like a million bucks, make sure the money you spend isn’t wasted because your damaged hair wouldn’t fully take the color. Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or a salon-goer, keep your locks looking lovely by conditioning your hair a few days before dying it with a semi-permanent color.

Importance of Conditioning

The hair shaft is very porous, and if your hair is dry or not properly balanced, you can end up with that stripey or color-block look, which looks great if you’re headed to a rave, but not so fabulous if you’re headed to that must-have job interview or out on a killer date. A semi-permanent dye coats the outside of the strand, so a deep conditioning treatment prepares the strand to evenly absorb the dye and to keep your color bright and beautiful for a long time. The added hydration also protects your luscious locks from the harsh chemicals used in the dye.

Hot Oil

Dry hair looks lifeless and dull, even after a color session. A hot-oil treatment repairs dry hair, and the warmth feels heavenly on your scalp. About three to five days before coloring, take about 30 minutes and indulge in a hot-oil treatment. You can purchase an over-the-counter treatment or whip up your own at home by warming olive, jasmine or coconut oil. Once the oil is combed through your hair, wrap your head in a hot towel you’ve retrieved from the dryer and relax. You can cuddle up with a good book, meditate or fold that pile of laundry that’s been mocking you all week.


If you don’t have the time for an indulgent hot-oil treatment, consider a conditioner that contains humectants. Humectants hold moisture in your hair, which readies it for color. Curly or coarse hair is often devoid of moisture. Chlorine, shampoo and hair products also dry out your hair so a moisturizing shampoo that is rich in humectants, such as panthenol, glycerin, keratin and propylene glycol, help to penetrate the hair shaft, restore lost moisture and retain moisture. Don’t forget to use a wide-tooth comb to comb the conditioner from the roots to the ends of your tresses.

Protein Conditioners

Daily brushing, drying, curling and straightening damages the outer cuticle of the hair, contributing to that frizzy or flyaway look. You should be using a daily protein conditioner, which helps the overall appearance of your hair. Protein conditioners don’t repair or restore like other conditioning treatments, but they do “patch” the outer cuticle of the hair strand and help add body and shine to the hair. The patch treatment allows for color to deposit more evenly on the strand. Instead of combing your daily protein conditioner through your hair and rinsing, allow it to remain on your hair for 3 to 5 minutes. You can shave your legs or have some zen time while you wait for the conditioner to fill in the rough spots on any damaged strands.

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