Should I Wash My Hair Before a Haircut?

Getting a haircut should be a relaxing, enjoyable experience, but sometimes not knowing proper salon etiquette can get in the way of that. If you’ve found yourself wondering, “Should you wash your hair before a haircut?” or “How much do you tip hairstylists?” — trust us, you’re not the only one. Even if you don’t have an upcoming salon appointment on the calendar, keeping your hair clean is important for many reasons, but that’s not to say you should feel embarrassed if you’ve had a particularly hectic week and didn’t get a chance to cleanse your hair that morning.

To settle this debate once and for all, Gina Rivera, hairstylist and owner of Phenix Salon Suites, is answering some common questions that many of us have asked ourselves at one point or another before a professional appointment. Things like: Should I wash my hair before a haircut? What about before a color treatment or getting it styled? This way, we can focus all of our energy on landing on a particular hairstyle before we’re actually in the salon chair (which we all know is the most important part).

Should You Wash Your Hair Before a Haircut?

To wash or not to wash all comes down to the type of haircut you are getting. If you get a dry cut, you’ll want to come to the salon with freshly washed hair. “Build up on the hair can weigh it down and the hair may lay differently than it does when it’s fresh and clean,” Rivera tells POPSUGAR.

A good way to tell whether a dry cut is needed is by looking at the type of haircut you’re going in for. If it’s just a light trim, bang touch-up, or you want to add a little more movement to your hair with layers (but not much length), your stylist might be more inclined to do a dry cut. This technique is also more common on straight hair looking for more shape versus curls or waves.

If you usually get your hair cut while wet — which is the most common method — it’s a different story. “Many stylists will select to wash your hair prior to cutting since most prefer to cut the hair wet rather than dry.” This is especially true when you are looking to remove an inch or more from the ends, have curls or coils that could benefit from stretching before cutting, or are looking to add a lot more texture and layers. If you fall into this camp, you can likely skip the shampoo before heading to the salon.

If you’re visiting a new salon or stylist and are unsure if they’re going to give you a dry cut or wet cut, you can always call ahead of time and ask.

Should I Wash My Hair Before a Hair Color Appointment?

It’s a little different if you’re heading to the salon for a hair-color appointment and not a haircut. You’ll want clean, dry hair for this type of appointment. “Make sure when showing up for a color application that the hair is dry as well so that the stylist can properly assess your needs and apply the color,” said Rivera.

It’s also helpful to know that you don’t have to wait to wash your hair again after dyeing it to “set” the color, like many people think. You can go ahead and wash it whenever you’d like and the shade should stay in tact, provided you’re using the right color-preserving hair products.

Should I Wash My Hair Before a Hairstyling Appointment?

For a hairstyling appointment — whether it be for a big event, wedding, prom, or graduation — you’ll want to show up with hair that’s clean, but not too clean. “Often, with updos, washing the hair the day prior is best because it allows the client to come to the salon with completely dry hair that is ready to style,” said Rivera.

Second-day hair is easier to work with and holds a style better, but if you end up showering before the appointment, that’s OK — stylists can always use texturizing spray to give the hair some grit.

The bottom line: don’t stress it. Your hairstylist has seen it all and won’t judge.

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