How to Prevent Hair Dye from Bleeding: Tips and Tricks

Cute black girl with bleached hair that has been dyed with brown and purple demi-permanent hair dyes.

If you’ve ever colored your hair, you know how messy it can get. The color stains your hands, sink, towel, and styling tools. But it can be even more frustrating when the dye bleeds onto your clothes, pillows, and furniture. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll explain why hair dye bleeds and, most importantly, how to stop it.

Why Does Hair Dye Bleed?

Before we dive into the solutions, let’s understand why your hair color bleeds in the first place. Here are some common reasons:

The Cuticle Is Not Sealed

The outermost layer of your hair, called the cuticle, acts as a barrier. It opens and closes to allow substances in and out of the hair shaft. After dyeing your hair, it’s crucial to seal the cuticle layer properly to retain the color. If the cuticle isn’t closed, the color will bleed even with minimal moisture.

Young woman with 3B curly hair dyed multiple colors after leaving a professional hair stylist.

Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Semi-permanent hair color tends to bleed more than permanent hair color because it doesn’t penetrate the hair shaft as deeply. Unlike permanent dyes, semi-permanent colors only reach the cuticle layer, making it harder for the color to stay put. This is why these dyes bleed easily when exposed to water.

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Vibrant Hair Color

Bright and vibrant tones like red, pink, and violet tend to bleed more than darker tones like brown or black. Bright colors don’t penetrate the hair shaft as deeply because their molecules are larger. As a result, it’s more challenging for your strands to retain the color.

How to Prevent Hair Dye from Bleeding

Beautiful fashionable woman taking a selfie of her color-treated hair after using hair sunscreen during an outdoor trip.

Now that we know why hair dye bleeds, let’s discuss some remedies. Here are a few tips to help you prevent your hair color from bleeding:

Avoid Water

When you have freshly dyed hair, try to limit your exposure to water as much as possible. Water causes the cuticle layer to swell, resulting in the pigment running out. To avoid bleeding, it’s best to minimize water contact. You can also use dry shampoo between washes to freshen up your curls. And when wetting your hair, always use cool water to seal the cuticles.

Use a Color Sealer

Color sealers are designed to be used right after dyeing your hair to lock in the color. These products effectively seal the cuticle layer, preventing the color from escaping. Additionally, color sealers add moisture to your hair, making it more manageable and softer. You can use color sealing creams as a replacement for your regular conditioner. After shampooing, apply the cream from roots to ends and leave it on for up to five minutes. Rinse with cool water. Color sealing sprays can also be incorporated into your wash routine. After shampooing, spray the product on damp hair, leave it for up to five minutes, then apply conditioner and rinse with cool water.

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Thoughtful woman looking away after dyeing her hair multiple colors following a cold water ACV rinse.

DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

An apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse is a quick solution to prevent hair color bleeding. ACV helps balance the hair’s pH, causing the cuticles to contract and seal. It also removes buildup that prevents proper cuticle closure. To make your own ACV rinse at home, you’ll need a spray bottle, apple cider vinegar, color-sealing conditioner, and optionally, essential oil. Mix five parts water with one part ACV in the spray bottle. Add a few drops of essential oil to mask the smell if desired. Spray the mixture on your hair, massage it in, and let it sit for up to five minutes. Rinse with cool water. Afterward, apply color-sealing conditioner, leave it on for up to five minutes, and rinse thoroughly.

Try a Low pH Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Low pH or acidic shampoos are excellent for color-treated hair to prevent bleeding. These shampoos don’t contain harsh sulfates that strip the hair of its color, and they help restore the hair’s pH and seal the cuticle layer.

A cheerful African American woman with color-treated hair takes a selfie after using color-safe shampoo.

Use a Cream Leave-In Conditioner

Cream leave-in conditioners not only repair damage from the dyeing process but also create a barrier around your strands to seal the cuticle and prevent color bleeding. Apply a cream leave-in conditioner on dry hair up to two times per week.

Avoid Heat

After coloring your hair, try to avoid heat sources like flat irons, blow dryers, curling irons, and steam from showers. Heat opens the cuticle layer, causing the color to bleed. When showering, wear a plastic or shower cap to protect your hair. Instead of heat styling, try natural hairstyles like twist-outs, braids-outs, roller sets, and Bantu knots.

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Top 3 Hair Dyes That Don’t Bleed

Positive young black woman with curly healthy hair dyed multiple colors soaking up the sun.

To prevent hair color bleeding in the first place, it’s crucial to choose a high-quality hair dye. We’ve researched and found the top three highest-rated hair dyes on the market:

  1. Garnier Olia Oil Powered Permanent Hair Color: This kit contains everything you need for perfect hair color. Its no-drip cream formula is free of ammonia, silicones, and parabens, providing minimal damage to the cuticle. With 60% oil content, it maintains hair’s shine and moisture during the dyeing process.

  2. L’Oreal Excellence Crème Permanent Hair Color: This three-step coloring system protects your hair during and after dyeing. Infused with ceramide, pro-keratin, and collagen, it seals and conditions damaged strands. It’s safe to use on bleached, relaxed, or permed hair.

  3. Clairol Natural Instincts Semi-Permanent Hair Dye: Formulated with 80% naturally derived ingredients, this semi-permanent hair dye contains coconut oil and aloe vera to shield your hair from damage and bleeding. The color can last up to 28 shampoos.


Bleeding hair dye can be a significant inconvenience, but it’s not hopeless. With these tips and tricks, you can prevent your hair color from bleeding and make your color last longer. Remember to choose the right products and methods for your hair type and color. Happy dyeing!

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