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How long does it take for hair to go back to natural color?

Going back to your natural hair color can be a big change, especially if you’ve been coloring your hair for a long time. However, it’s definitely possible for your hair to revert back to its original shade. The amount of time it takes depends on a few key factors.

What determines how quickly hair color fades

There are several variables that affect how long it takes for dyed hair to fade back to natural:

  • Hair color and tone – Darker shades last longer than lighter tones. Black, dark brown, and red dye tends to have more staying power than blonde or light brown hues.
  • Application method – Color applied with permanent dye lasts longer than semi-permanent or temporary options. Foils and all-over color application results in longer lasting color than highlights.
  • Hair’s condition – Healthy, undamaged hair holds onto artificial color better than dry, porous hair.
  • Frequency of washing – Frequent shampooing fades color quicker than less regular washing.
  • Hair products – Harsh shampoos strip color faster than gentle, sulfate-free formulas. Conditioner deposits pigments to help extend color.
  • Sun exposure – The sun’s UV rays accelerate fading, especially for red, blonde and brown shades.
  • Hair growth – New hair growing in will reveal your roots and natural color first.

How hair color fades

When dyed hair begins growing out, the change is gradual and progresses through phases:

  1. Roots – This is the first place your natural color appears as new growth comes in.
  2. Mid-lengths – Next, the middle parts of your strands will start to lose artificial pigment.
  3. Ends – The last places to fade are the tips since they are the oldest part of your hair.

As your roots grow and stretch down, the contrast between your natural and dyed color will increase until your hair blends together in a double-tone look. This awkward grow out phase can last 2-4 months or more depending on how quickly your hair grows.

Timeline by hair dye type

Here’s an approximate timeline of how long it takes for common temporary and permanent hair dyes to grow out based on application method and frequency of touch ups:

Hair dye type Lasts for
Semi-permanent dye 4-8 weeks
Demi-permanent dye Up to 24 weeks
Permanent dye (single process) 4-6 weeks regrowth, up to 4 months full grow out
Permanent dye (double process) 6-8 weeks regrowth, up to 5 months full grow out
Highlighting 2-3 months regrowth, up to 9 months grow out

As you can see, permanent hair color applications require the longest duration for complete grow out. This is due to how deeply and thoroughly the artificial pigments penetrate and stain the hair shaft. However, frequent visible root regrowth will appear in just 4-8 weeks.

How to transition from dyed to natural hair

Growing out your natural hair color doesn’t have to be awkward or frustrating. Here are some tips to help the process go smoothly:

  • Get regular trims – This will help snipp off damaged ends and keep hair healthy and even as grow out progresses.
  • Use root touch up powder or concealer – These temporary solutions disguise visible roots between salon visits.
  • Ask your colorist for low maintenance options – Have highlights, balayage, Ombre or root shadow done to blend new growth.
  • Use clarifying shampoo once a week – This helps remove dye residue and prevent color buildup.
  • Try color removal treatments – Hair color strippers speed up fading of permanent dye.
  • Use gloss or semi-permanent toner – These can soften the demarcation line and reduce the contrast between old and new hair color.
  • Protect hair from sun exposure – Always wear a hat outside and use protective hair products.
  • Consider gradual transition with lowlights – This blends your current color with new re-growth.

How to maintain natural hair color

Once your natural shade has fully grown in there are steps you can take to keep your hair looking its best:

  • Use shampoo and conditioner made for your hair color – Brunette, blonde, silver and red hair have specific needs.
  • Cut down heat styling to prevent fading – Allow hair to air dry when possible.
  • Rinse with cool water and limit washing – This prevents cuticle from opening to release color pigments.
  • Apply weekly conditioning treatment – Nourish and protect hair strands.
  • Reduce chemical services like perms, relaxers or lightening – These lead to dryness and color stripping.
  • Eat a healthy, colorful diet – Increase intake of vitamin rich fruits and vegetables.
  • Use leave-in sun protection spray – Look for formulas with UV filters.
  • Get regular trims every 6-8 weeks – Prevent split ends and maintain condition.


Transitioning from colored to natural hair is a process that requires some patience. Most permanent dyes will be fully grown out within 4-9 months. Temporary root touch ups, color blending techniques and haircut maintenance can help minimize the awkward grow out phase. Once your natural shade has returned, proper at-home care and healthy hair habits will keep it looking its vibrant best.