What Does Pre-color Serum Do? The Pre-color Treatment You Shouldn’t Miss

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What you do to your hair before a dye job matters a lot. It determines the overall result you get- shade, distribution of color, and longevity of the dye job. Among the many products your colorist may apply to your hair pre-coloring, is a pre-color serum.

Hair coloring is more than following a trend for some people. For whatever reasons you are changing or have changed your hair color, you’ll need a good colored hair care routine.

Pre-treatment products help to enhance the resulting hair color and protect your scalp and strands from damage.

Ahead, this article explains what a pre-color serum does for colored hair and how to use it to up your colored hair game.

What Is Pre-color Serum?

A pre-color serum is a pre-color treatment product applied to your hair just before you apply color to the hair. Most pre-color hair serums use an anti-breakage technology in their formula to prevent hair breakage.

Furthermore, these serums are formulated quite differently from regular hair and scalp serums which enhance hair growth and hair volume. Unlike some pre-color treatment products, pre-color serums do not require heat for absorption and are effective.

Pre-color hair serums are comparable to hair toners. The serums have been used before and they come before you change the color of your hair. Toners, on the other hand, are applied after using hair dyes or bleach.

What Does Pre-color Serum Do?

1. Protects Your Hair

Changing the original color of your hair is beautiful yet with its downsides. Hair dyes, for instance, contain ammonia which is very harmful to the hair. This compound penetrates the hair shaft and damages the cuticles.

Using a pre-color serum before applying hair color will create a protective barrier over your hair and prevent the chemicals from penetrating your hair follicles.

Moreover, this is highly beneficial if you want to bleach your hair; bleaching is very rigorous and damages hair strands.

2. Evens Out Hair Porosity

Like a regular hair serum, pre-color serum can also help to even out your hair porosity. Hair coloring unbalances hair porosity and this can affect color distribution. A pre-color serum that contains proteins can help with balancing overly porous hair.

In addition, it smoothens your hair and prevents future damage to your strands by coating their surface and holding off the side effects of bleach agents.

3. Helps Color Distribution

Pre-color serum aids even the distribution of color. It coats the surface of your hair strands, balances out porosity, and allows the color to be delivered effectively. Applying pre-color serum yields better results.

The molecules’ deposits may temporarily fill holes in your cuticles and make your hair smoother. This helps color distribution and gives you your expected results.

4. Act as Hair Sunscreen

The pre-color serum serves as a sunscreen under your colored hair. Changing your hair color naturally strips your hair of the layers that protect it from ultraviolet radiation. It is, therefore, more exposed to damage due to sun exposure.

This serum provides temporary protection against sun rays. It does not suffice for long-term protection. Therefore, you’ll still need to wear a hat or tie a headscarf during the first days of your new look. Also, you’ll still need an ideal hair sunscreen.

Does Pre-color Serum Work?

Yes, it works. The serum contains molecules that penetrate your hair shaft and prevent internal damage to your hair cuticles and help to balance porosity. Hair colorists recommend using a pre-color serum on frail hair before applying color to it.

However, this serum may not be able to prevent future, cumulative damage especially when you go overboard with hair coloring. The damages of hair dyes are permanent and cannot be prevented by using a pre-color serum.

As a leave-on product, the serum has enough time to be on your hair and repair damaged parts of your hair strands.

When Should You Use Pre-color Serum?

Use pre-color serum just before you apply hair color. It is quite different from the regular hair serums that are used when styling your hair.

Although it is not a necessary product for everyone, it is an important pre-treatment product for people with colored hair.

Moreover, if you notice your hair cannot bear the harsh chemicals in hair dyes or the rigor of bleaching your hair, you need a pre-color serum.

How to Use Pre Color Serum When Coloring Your Hair

Applying a pre-color serum is not a difficult process. The pre-color serum you use, which should be picked out by your colorist, should suit your hair type and its specific concerns.

Additionally, you can perform a skin allergy test before you use the serum. Meanwhile, you should avoid contact with your eyes or areas of broken skin.

Follow these steps to use a pre-color serum when getting a dye job:

  • Apply pre-color serum to dry hair. Already wet hair will absorb water before you apply hair color and this prevents color from absorbing into your hair
  • Then, pump out the serum and apply it directly to the ends of your hair, making sure you avoid the roots
  • Evenly massage the serum into your hair and allow it to absorb for a few minutes
  • While the serum is absorbing, you can mix developer and hair dye in the appropriate ratio
  • Thereafter, use a clean hair dye brush (or use your hands to evenly apply the eye but you should protect your hands with a pair of gloves) to apply the eye to your hair, starting with the roots
  • Move up to the ends of your hair. Apply just enough color that will evenly deposit into your hair cuticles
  • Allow the dye to sit for the recommended duration. It is better to not go beyond or below the recommended waiting time on your product’s pack or as advised by your colorist
  • Rinse off the dye thoroughly with clean, lukewarm water
  • Afterward, wash your hair with a color-safe, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner to remove any color residues
  • After washing, use a lint-free towel to remove excess water
  • Then, you can either allow your hair to air dry or speed up things with a blow dryer (on minimal heat)
  • Thereafter, you can style your hair as you desire


Do you need to use a pre-color serum?

A pre-color serum is not a compulsory product for people with colored hair. If your hair is 100% healthy, you most likely do not need to use this serum. It better serves people with fragile hair and people battling with highly porous hair.

Will pre-color serum damage your hair?

No, it will not. A pre-color serum is a hair protector. It is least likely to damage your hair if you’re using the right product. It also should not contain ingredients like parabens which can be harmful to your hair.

The pre-color serum helps to protect fragile hairs from further damage.

Should you use hair serum before applying hair color?

Hair serums are great hair styling products but you should not apply the serum to your hair before coloring. Hair dyes effectively penetrate clean hair; that is, hair devoid of any residues of oil or product.

Moreover, the serums you use on colored hair should be serums made for colored hair. These serums do not contain any chemicals that can make the color fade quickly. They are also very protective of the integrity of your hair, they protect the strands from damage.


Pre-color treatments like a pre-color serum are highly necessary for your hair. They guarantee healthy and vibrant-looking hair. While getting your hair colored sounds like a lot of fun, the chemicals present in dyes are very harsh.

The damage caused by hair dyes is not a one-time thing. It accumulates in bits and manifests as hair breakage, porous hair, and sometimes an affected scalp.

A good pre-color serum is your gateway out of these hair issues. More so, it makes your colored hair enjoyable for as long as you have it on.

Thanks for reading.

If you are looking for the best guides on how to keep your colored hair looking upbeat, you should check Serum101.