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How Long Does It Take to Dye Hair at Home vs. (at a Salon)?

How Long Does It Take to Dye Hair at Home vs. (at a Salon)?

Good things come to those who wait, and that also applies to hair coloring treatments. When you want a new hair color, the procedure will probably take a little while.

In the end, a gorgeous new look is worth it, but the process can be tedious, particularly if you’re not sure how long the process will take.

How Long Does It Take to Dye Hair?

It takes approximately two hours (or 120 minutes) to have your hair dyed at a salon. This time frame includes the amount of time required to apply the dye to your hair, processing time, and the required setup and wrap-up time.

Of course, this is only a rule of thumb. The actual time will depend on several factors, including your hair’s length, the natural color of your hair, the hair dyeing technique, the type of dye, and the efficiency of your hair colorist.

For example, the dyeing times will be different for light brown, golden blonde, ash blonde, and sandy blonde hair. Although, the times will be shorter for these lighter shades compared to darker colors, like gray hair, dark brown hair, and black hair.

Other factors include the color you choose, your hair type (e.g., curl pattern), the overall health of your hair strands, and whether your hair is being dyed at a hair salon versus using a do-it-yourself hair dye kit at home.

Also, the whole process can differ depending on whether you’re getting permanent hair color versus semi-permanent dyes. Finally, your results and the length of the dyeing process will also differ based on your stylist’s experience (or your own skills if you are dyeing your hair at home).

If you’re embarking on a hair dyeing journey, be prepared for the process to take a couple of hours. The following factors can help give you a rough estimate of how long it will take to dye your hair. 

Hair Color, Length, Porosity, and More

Cute black girl with pink lipstick and dark brown curly hair.

The length of the hair coloring process often depends on the type of hair that you have. In this instance, hair type refers to whether you have straight, wavy, curly, or kinky hair, but also the overall length of your hair.

Obviously, it will take longer to apply hair dye if you have long hair than if you have a short haircut. This concept applies whether you are doing your own hair or having your hair dyed at a salon.

Your hair’s porosity also matters. Different types of hair absorb dye at different speeds. If this is your first time dyeing your hair (sometimes called virgin hair), it tends to be easier to work with because it is less damaged and absorbs color more easily. 

The speed of the dyeing process will also depend on what color you are trying to achieve. If you are hoping to make a drastic change, that will take much longer than just touching up your color or changing a shade.

If you are trying to lighten your hair, a bleaching mixture is often necessary, which will take longer than applying a dark color to your hair.

Is It Better to Color Hair at Home or Salon?

Mixed-race female looking back over her shoulder into the camera with red lipstick and type 3c curls.

You can dye your hair at home using boxed dyes, or you can pay to get it done professionally at a salon. At-home dyes have evolved, and you can get decent results as long as you follow directions carefully.

However, your own efforts will usually not match what a professional stylist can achieve. Although, dyeing your hair at home is usually faster because you skip a few extra steps that hairdressers add to your visit, and you don’t have to wait for other customers to finish.

It is also less expensive to dye your hair at home, as salon visits can cost up to $150 per month, depending on the complexity of your dye. In comparison, boxed hair dyes are often no more than $20 per month.

When deciding whether to dye your hair at home or pay a professional, you should take a few factors into account. Consider how drastic a change you want to make to your natural look and your confidence in your own abilities to achieve the desired end result. 

We don’t recommend dyeing your hair at home if your only goal is to save time. It’s far more likely that you will damage your hair when you dye it yourself (e.g., using a boxed hair dye) than when using a professional. Then you will lose time and money trying to fix it in the end.

Since there are so many different factors to consider, as a general rule, we recommend using a professional to increase the likelihood that you’ll be happy with the outcome.

How Long Does It Take to Dye Hair at Home?

Hispanic girl with her hands on her face with wavy hair starring directly into the camera.

It takes approximately two hours (or 120 minutes) to your hair at home. However, the process can be shorter or longer depending on several factors, including your hair type, the color you’re trying to achieve, and your experience applying hair dye.

If you need to lighten your hair to achieve your desired color, budget at least an additional 20 minutes for applying bleach. Only then will you be able to apply your desired color.

The other primary factor influencing the time it takes to complete a do-it-yourself hair dyeing session is the list of step-by-step instructions on the box.

Every product has a different recommended length of time you should keep the dye on your head. This timeframe usually ranges from roughly 20 to 45 minutes.

Even if you’ve dyed your hair before, be sure to read the instructions on the box carefully as the directions may be different from previous products you’ve used. Under no circumstances should you keep the dye in your hair for longer than the recommended period.

If you keep the dye in your hair for too long, you could damage your hair due to the harsh chemical processes occurring to each hair cuticle. For the best results, follow the directions on the box exactly.

Salon Visits

Black girl with nose ring with har natural curls covering parts of her face.

If you’re getting your hair dyed by a professional at a salon, it will probably take longer than when you do it at home with a box dye.

This is because a professional hairdresser provides you with a complete customer experience. For example, the hairdresser will often include a consultation, wash your hair, and cut your hair if desired.

It is possible to leave the salon after only an hour or two with a freshly dyed head of hair. However, if you are getting a more complex hairstyle, such as a multicolored balayage, then it could take up to four hours.

Finally, if you’re having any of the following services done, here are some estimates for how long they will take.

Root Touch-Ups

Adult female wearing a black spaghetti strap tank top and ombre curls with highlights.

A root touch-up is when a hairstylist applies color to the roots of your hair to cover up the part that has grown out.

Since there is less hair to cover and the stylist does not need to prep the hair by wrapping it in foil, as they would for highlights, root touch-ups take less time than dyeing your entire head.

Root touch-ups usually take about half an hour to apply and another 45 minutes for the dye to sink in. If you are only getting your roots dyed at the salon, you can expect to leave within two hours or less. 

However, budget extra time just in case your hair takes longer to absorb the dye, you have to wait for your stylist, or you decide to get another service at the salon. 


If you went to the salon hoping to dye your hair a lighter shade, then you will need to add an extra step to the dyeing process. Before applying your desired hair color, your stylist will need to lighten it using bleach, which strips hair of its pigmentation.

Bleach usually needs to sit in the hair for 20 to 40 minutes before the stylist can rinse it out—and that’s not counting the time it takes to apply it.

If you know that you’ll need to bleach your hair in addition to dyeing it, add an extra hour to your estimate for how long it will take to dye your hair at the salon.


The actual dyeing process itself can take anywhere from one to two hours. First, the stylist needs to apply dye to your hair.

The amount of time this will take varies greatly depending on how long your hair is, how thick it is, and whether you are getting your full head done or just highlights. Read this article to determine how long highlights take.

Then, your hair needs to absorb the dye. This can take as long as 45 minutes. Finally, your stylist will rinse out the dye and dry your hair. 

Dyeing your hair alone will probably take around two hours at the salon. If you are getting a complicated, multicolored dye done, or you also need to bleach it, expect to spend several more hours sitting in the salon chair.

Other Services

Black woman with curly hair, a huge smile, and curly highlights.

It takes longer to get your hair done at the salon because the stylist adds extra services that you wouldn’t get at home. It takes time to get these services done, but your results and experience will be better for it.

Even washing your hair at the salon probably takes longer than when you do it at home. The hairdresser may spend up to 15 minutes shampooing and rinsing your hair.

They often apply shampoo twice, include a thorough scalp massage, and add any conditioner or treatments they think your hair might need.

Another service that you can get at the salon but not at home is a consultation. Your stylist will talk with you to decide the most flattering shade for your face, skin tone, and the best procedure to achieve your desired results.

They can also advise you against anything that might damage your hair. A consultation adds 15 to 30 minutes to your visit, but it’s entirely worth it to prevent an unfortunate dye job.

We also recommend that newbies consider going to a consultation with a hair colorist as a first step.

Finally, many people combine their salon visits and get a haircut at the same time that they dye their hair. If you plan to get a haircut, add an extra 30 to 60 minutes to your salon time.

Related Articles

The time it takes to dye your hair depends on many factors. Whether you have your hair dyed at a salon or do it yourself at home, the length of the process will be affected by the length of your hair, your natural hair color, your preferred hair color, the technique used, the health of your hair, and more much.

In general, it’s a good idea to budget several hours for dyeing your hair and be flexible with your plans afterward since you’re never sure how long it could take.