How to dye curly hair – without damaging it [7 top tips]

Do you have gorgeous curls and want to mix it up with bold hair colors? Many of us love changing up our look from time to time, yet dread the dyeing and damaging your luscious locks! But don’t worry. We’re here to tell you how to dye curly hair.

Whether you have tight ringlets, spirals or lazy beach waves, this post will give you some top tips on hour to dye curly hair and guide you through how to get vibrant new hues without destroying your hair health.

Here are our top tips for using at-home dyes with expert advice on haircare that’ll leave your tresses looking sensational. Let’s get glowing!

Can you dye curly hair?

The answer is yes, you can indeed dye curly hair. Whoop!

In fact, coloring your curls can be a great way to enhance your natural texture and add a touch of personality to your look.

When it comes to dyeing curly hair, the options are endless.

You can go for a subtle ombré effect or go bold with a vivid color.

No matter what you choose, just be sure to use a quality coloring product and follow the instructions carefully to avoid damaging your strands. We’ll show you how.

how to dye curly hair - pink and purple curly hair instagram post
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How to dye curly hair without damaging it.

Are you ready to take the plunge and dye your curls?

Let’s discuss a few top tips so that you can embrace your new color without compromising the integrity of your hair. After all, it is all about keeping those tresses healthy and strong! 

#1 Know your curls 

Before diving into any kind of coloring process, it’s important to know the type of curls you have.

Are you 2C wavy, 3A curly, 4C coily? Different curl patterns require different types of care, so understanding your unique pattern is key.

It’s also important to understand the porosity of your hair too as this dictates how much moisture it can absorb. Knowing these two elements will help ensure that you use the most suitable products for your hair type when dyeing it. 

what's your curl pattern custom infographic - 2a wavy, 2b wavy, 2c wavy, 3a curly, 3b curly, 3c curly, 4a coily, 4b coily, 4c coily

#2 Choose the right hair color products 

The most important thing when it comes to dyeing curly hair is using the right products.

Choose a box dye that is specifically formulated for curly or textured hair, as this will ensure that you get even coverage throughout your hair.

Also make sure to choose a color that is not too far off from your natural shade, as this will prevent any damage to the cuticles of your hair and minimize fading over time. 

#3 Use semi-permanent hair dye

Using high-volume developers and lighteners, like bleach or permanent hair dye, can severely damage your curly locks.

Instead of using these harsh chemicals, opt for semi-permanent hair dye or temporary color.

These products are ammonia-free and contain more gentle ingredients that won’t damage your hair

Using these milder products will cause less damage and won’t break down the hair cuticles and cause dryness or split ends.

#4 Pre-treat your hair 

Before dyeing your curls, it’s important to pre-treat them with an oil or deep conditioner.

This will help protect them from any further damage from the dyes, and add moisture back into your hair before you start coloring.

Don’t wash your hair up to 48 hours before dyeing it. A barrier of natural oils will help to protect your hair and scalp from the drying effects of hair dye.

#5 Choose the right hair color.

If you’re wanting to switch things up with your curly hair, it’s best to stay within 1-2 shades of your natural hue.

Wanting to make an even bolder statement? It might be best left up to the pros!

Remember, for those of us lucky enough to rock curly hair—super light colors can take away from vibrant volume and shine. Bleach in particular can be super damaging for curls.

So if you want luscious curls that stay their healthiest, it’s important not to rush into anything too drastic in one sitting – and stick to lightening your hair gradually over time.

#6 Apply the dye carefully 

Now that you’ve prepped your hair, it’s time to start applying the dye. Be sure to follow the instructions on the box carefully, and avoid over-processing your hair.

Start by applying the dye to the middle and ends of your hair first, and then work your way up to the roots. This will help minimize any damage that could be caused by the dye.

Once you’re done applying the dye, be sure to rinse it out thoroughly with cool water. You may also want to use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner to help preserve your new hue.

#7 Always do a strand test!

No matter which route you go when dying your hair, it’s always best to do a strand test first.

This will help you determine whether you’re allergic to the dye, and give you an idea of how the final color will look on your curls.

To do a strand test, simply apply a small amount of the dye to a small section of hair, and wait 48 hours to see if any irritation or redness develops. If there is no reaction after 48 hours, then you should be good to go!

Watch and learn: How to dye curly hair step-by-step.

Here’s a great video tutorial that shows you how to dye natural hair blonde at home!

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Can I highlight curly hair?

There’s nothing like a bit of ombre, balayage, or highlights to add some oomph to curly hair.

Actually, if you want to get more technical try a “pintura” or “coilyage”, which are specifically designed for the unique needs of curly and frizzy locks.

Whichever option you choose, it’s clear that even if you have curly hair there’s no need to miss out on enjoying some beautiful sun-kissed highlights!

What is pintura?

Pintura is an ombre and balayage technique specifically designed to add highlights to curly hair.

Thanks to specialized techniques and products, pintura can provide a modern, high-definition look that lasts – even for those with the most stubborn curls!

With customized shades, your stylist can achieve beautiful results that enhance the texture of your hair.

So if you’re looking for a new way to show off your natural curl pattern without having to worry about constant maintenance and upkeep, pintura could be the perfect solution.

pintura hair technique blonde highlights on 4c hair instagram post

What is Coilyage?

Coilyage is the hottest hair trend in town, specifically tailored to suit all those with coily, curly, or kinky hair.

It’s a new take on the classic balayage technique but provides a customized and modern look for anyone rocking their natural coils.

Creating this look involves expertly using highlights and lowlights to give each person’s individual styling an effortless depth and dimension.

So if you want an eye-catching style that’s both creative and true to you, it could be time to hit the salon!

brown and blonde balayage coily hair coilyage instagram post

Will dyeing my curly hair damage it?

Curly hair is more porous, which means it can absorb color more easily. This also means that curly hair is more likely to be damaged by dyeing.

The good news is that there are ways to minimize the damage, and with the right products, you can actually keep your curly hair healthy and happy during the dyeing process.

Will hair dye change my curl texture or pattern?

The result of hair dye on curl texture or pattern depends on the hair product used and your hair type.

For instance, if you have high porosity hair that’s prone to breakage and heat damage, then a hair dyeing session may reduce the hair’s elasticity.

This could change the look of your curls, making them appear straighter than before.

Someone with low hair porosity might find that hair dye has energized their curls even more!

So make sure to do your research and consider your hair’s unique characteristics before going for any hair coloring treatments.

Will dyeing curly hair make it straight?

Dyeing your hair doesn’t mean you have to kiss your curls goodbye.

While it can sometimes loosen your curls make your hair appear straighter, if done right, dyeing can bring a whole new level of vibrancy to your look.

Plus, practicing some extra TLC can help maintain that bouncy ringlet shape you love so much.

Just make sure you use loads of conditioner and moisturizing treatments along the way.

Do you dye curly hair wet or dry?

When it comes to dyeing curly hair, the best approach is to do it on damp or slightly wet hair.

Dry hair can cause the hair dye color or bleach to settle unevenly and increase the chances of having patchy results.

Also, applying dye on dry hair could make your curls look dull and crunchy in texture, while applying it on wet strands could give you brighter and more vibrant colors with soft tumbling curls.

Never try to dye wet curly hair, as the dye will just slide right off!

Is it okay to use box dye on curly hair?

When it comes to dyeing your curly hair, box dye is ok to use. With a few caveats.

It is best to stick with a semi-permanent hair dye so you can avoid the potential for damage.

Semi-permanent dyes don’t require ammonia or peroxide like permanent solutions do, so your curls will be safe from drying out and some extra dose of nourishment won’t hurt either.

Plus, opting for a semi-permanent box dye leaves you free to create those funky styles you wished for without any long-term commitment!

What hair dye is best for curly hair?

When it comes to dyeing curly hair, nourishing and hydrating dyes are the best choice.

There are a few options available that provide stunning colors without compromising on curl health.

Look for formulas with natural oils such as coconut oil and shea butter which add moisture to your curls while also providing color. Ammonia-free hair dyes help to minimize damage while still giving you those vibrant shades you desire.

And remember to stick with semi-permanent dyes instead of permanent ones for healthier, more nourished results!

How to care for dyed curly hair.

If you have dyed curly hair, you’re going to want to make sure it looks its best!

There are a few easy tips and tricks that will keep your mane looking marvellous.

First, when washing, use a gentle shampoo and conditioner designed for colored hair. This will ensure maximum preservation of your beautiful color.

Try not to wash your hair every day as this can strip away the natural oils from your scalp and damage the color.

You can refresh your hair daily with a light mist of water, styling product like hairspray or mouse, and use a heat-protectant spray before blow drying or curling.

Lastly, whenever possible avoid excessive sun exposure to protect both the color and curls from fading away.

With these few tips in mind you’ll be able keep your newly colored curls full of life!

Parting words.

Dyeing curly hair doesn’t have to be a stressful experience; it can actually be quite fun!

Just make sure that you use high-quality products and follow expert advice along every step of the way in order to keep those gorgeous locks looking their best!

With these simple tips in mind, you’re sure to end up with beautiful colored curls that last for weeks on end! Enjoy!


  • Nicola Freeman
    Creative Director & Owner

    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!