How long does it take to dye hair? Quick hair Qs!

How long does it take to dye hair? The answer, my friend, is not so simple.

Dyeing your hair is a process that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours.

The length of time it takes to add a pop of colour or completely transform your look varies depending on your natural hair texture and density, the type of dyeing being done (i.e highlights vs. single process), the length of your hair and how much coverage is needed.

Dark colours take longer than light ones because they require more chemical treatments.

It also matters what type of hair product you use—how quickly it washes out and the ingredients used affect how fast colour fades.

The answer is also different depending on who you ask: some stylists might say four hours while others might say two!

It’s a minefield! But don’t worry, we’re here with a guide that’ll give you a good idea of how long it all takes. Let’s break it down!

How long does it take to dye hair?

All-over colour – up to 2 hours.

Lightening hair before colouring – up to 3 hours.

Highlights/lowlights/balayage – up to 3½ – 4 hours

How long does dyeing hair usually take?

The first thing you should know about colouring your hair is what type of colour you want and what shade or tone.

Different colours require different amounts of time, so if you know exactly which colour you want then the process will be much easier.

The next factor in determining how long it will take is whether or not your hair has been previously dyed before.

If it hasn’t been dyed before, then expect around an hour and a half with bleach included in order for your virgin hair to lighten enough to accept any colour.

If you have dyed your hair in the past, then only an hour will be necessary and no bleach will be involved.

Of course, it also matters what technique you’re having done. All over dye jobs take less time than something like highlights or ombre styles where you’ll need to spend more time and care applying the dye.

The time it takes for these techniques to work on your hair varies, ranging from 45 minutes to two hours on average. As a rule:

  • A single process (all-over colour) can take up to two hours.
  • A double process (lightening the hair before colouring) can take up to three hours.
  • A partial or complete foil (highlights/lowlights) up to three and a half/four hours.

How long does it take to dye your hair at home?

10 mins for all-over application on virgin hair.

30 mins application for roots on dyed hair.

30-40 minutes for the dye to develop.

Up to 90 minutes for the whole process; plus extra time depending on whether your hair was previously dyed before.

In order to dye your hair at home, the first thing you need to do is mix your colour.

The amount of time it takes for this mixture will depend on which brand and type of box dye you use and if it comes premixed or not.

Most dyes come pre-mixed so all you have to do is apply them with a brush or squeezy bottle.

If you are using regular hair dye that needs to be mixed, expect to take up to 90 minutes for the whole process.

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

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How long does it take to dye hair blonde?

how long does it take to dye hair blonde Instagram post

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 colour 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?

chocolate brown hair color instagram post

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

This is because the colour 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 colour.

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?

black hair color instagram post

Dyeing hair black can also take anywhere up to two hours depending on what tone you’re going for and how dark your natural colour 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?

red hair color instagram post

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 colours.

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.

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

It can take up to two hours to dye your hair in a single process at a salon.

This includes the time it takes to put the dye in your hair, the development time and the washing, rinsing, and styling.

If you’re also having a haircut, it can take up to half an hour more than this. A blow-dry and style will add time too.

The thing about dyeing your hair in salon, is that they’ll often leave your dye to set and then deal with other customers to make best use of their time. We get it! It’s a business after all.

So sometimes you can find yourself waiting for your stylist to finish with another customer before getting back to you, which adds a bit more time.

But the upside is you can it back, relax and dive into a magazine and let the pros take care of it! Win win!

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 colour 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 colour 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 colour 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 colours 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 colour 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!

When can you wash hair after dyeing it?

Really, you should wait at least 24 hours before washing your locks.

This is because the chemicals in these products do their job while they’re strongest before rinsing them out.

Some hairdressers will wash and condition your hair straight away to get rid of any hair dye residue and lock your colour in.

It really depends on the condition of your hair and the hair dye you’ve use to work out what’s right for you.

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 colours, you can take our quiz! Just answer a few quick questions and we’ll tell you the right colours that will suit you. Just click on the image below!

which hair colors suit me

What hair color suits me?


  • Nicola Freeman

    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 Covid 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. Win me over with a plate of sushi anytime!