How to Remove Black Hair Dye


Black hair dye is one of the most difficult dyes to remove from your hair. Depending on how much lighter you wish to go, it can take several different steps to reach your desired color. It is possible to remove black hair dye without causing unnecessary damage however, and you can strip out the hair color and reach anything from a brown to blonde color with time and care.

Removing dark hair dye

Dark hair dyes are more difficult to remove than their lighter cousins, and this is especially true for black hair dye. In order to remove black hair dye without causing too much damage and wrecking your hair, you need to be systematic and take an approach that relies on the least damaging method of hair dye removal that will give the required results. Some of the methods available to you include:

  • Clarifying shampoo and anti-dandruff shampoos
  • Hair dye remover
  • Bleach wash
  • Full head bleach

These methods of removing dark hair dye are listed in order of how much skill they require to use and damage they can potentially cause to your hair. They also follow the appropriate order that you should follow when you are removing dark hair dye from your hair at home. Shampooing your hair or using dye remover causes no damage, although it may dry your hair, whereas bleach washes or a full bleach will damage your hair and need to be used with less abandon and an ounce of caution.


Clarifying shampoo

Clarifying shampoo should always be the first step you take in your pursuit to remove black hair dye from your hair. Not only is shampooing your hair not at all damaging, but it can really help to remove the buildup of dye that occurs when you apply a dark color like black to your hair. This gives you a head start because the more color you can remove without resorting to bleach, the better condition your hair will be in at the end.

To use clarifying shampoo to remove black hair dye, simply replace your regular shampoo with an effective clarifying shampoo and use it a few times every time you shampoo your hair for the first few weeks before you turn to more drastic measures. If you're in a rush and need to remove black hair dye quickly, you can wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo several times in one day, but you will need to follow up with a good deep conditioner or conditioning treatment to relieve the dryness that occurs.

If you don't know which clarifying shampoo to use, Joico K-Pak clarifying shampoo is a sure bet. Apart from that, look for shampoos that are marketed towards oily hair or product buildup. Clarifying shampoo won't always say what it is on the bottle, but the products used for conditions like oily hair are much stronger shampoos designed to cut through oil and excess hair products. These are almost always clarifying shampoos sold under a more targeted name.

The best way to remove dark hair dye with a clarifying shampoo is to use the shampoo a few times every week until your color begins to fade, before moving onto the next step. However, if you do choose to take a quicker route in removing black hair dye, make sure you always follow up with a good conditioning product like Redken Smooth Down Butter Treat to prevent your hair from becoming dry and brittle. After using the clarifying shampoo, you should give your hair a break before you use another method to further remove the black hair dye so that moisture can build back up.

Hair dye remover

Hair dye remover is the holy grail of color removal because it reverses the actual process that takes place in your hair when you use a permanent hair dye. It is the oxidation of the hair dye that makes it permanent and traps it in your hair, and hair dye remover breaks the color molecules back down into their previous form so that they can simply be washed out of the hair without causing any damage.

The only drawback to hair dye remover is that the product can have a slight drying effect on the hair like a clarifying shampoo. Dye remover doesn't cause damage however, and you can use it a few times before resorting to bleach in order to cut down on damage and you may potentially not even have to use bleach at all if you're lucky. The dryness can be relieved with a deep conditioner or conditioning treatment just like with clarifying shampoo.

Hair dye remover consists of two separate solutions that need to be mixed first in order to start the chemical reaction that reverse the oxidation of permanent hair dye. Mix only as much as you need, and don't mix the products until you're ready to apply the hair dye remover or you will lose some of the effectiveness as it can't be reused. Apply the dye remover either by brush or by hands, as quickly as possible, and leave to process for 20 - 25 minutes.

The hair dye remover will usually work quickly, and if you were a fairly light color before you dyed your hair black, you may notice your hair lightening rapidly before your eyes. Even if the color change isn't as dramatic, the hair dye remover is still breaking down the artificial color in your hair and making it easier for the bleach to remove the remaining color if you still need to go lighter later on.

After you rinse the product out, shampoo your hair at least two times to ensure you remove all the dye that has been broken down. You need to shampoo your hair as thoroughly as possible or else any dye left in your hair will oxidize again and darken in your hair. After you've shampooed, use a good deep conditioner or conditioning treatment to relieve any dryness, and give your hair a rest for a week before you move on to bleach if necessary.


Bleach wash

A bleach wash, or bleach bath is a more benign way to bleach your hair than a full head bleach because the bleach is diluted when applied to your hair. You can't use a bleach wash to lighten your hair significantly, but you can use it to lighten your hair 1 - 2 levels and remove any dark hair dye buildup that's left after you've used clarifying shampoo and hair dye remover.

If you still need to lighten your hair more than 1 level or so to reach your desired shade, you should use a full bleach rather than a bleach wash. If you only need to remove a little more of the black hair dye to reach the shade you want, a bleach wash will be better than a full bleach and leave your hair in better condition.

To prepare a bleach wash, mix up hair bleach as usual, but add a third of shampoo to the quantity of bleach that you've prepared. You can add more shampoo to dilute the bleach further, or you can simply use a lighter volume of developer. You will be applying your bleach wash to wet hair, so the water in your hair dilutes the bleach down even more, and this needs to be taken into account when you prepare it.

The developer you use can be anything from 10 vol to 30 vol. The higher volume that you use, the more lightening that will take place, but your hair will also be damaged more. Use the minimal required, noting that the shampoo and application to wet hair will dilute down the developer. A bleach wash with 30 vol peroxide is similar to a full bleach with 15 - 20 vol peroxide after dilution is taken into account.

Once you're ready to apply the bleach wash, dampen your hair with water, and quickly apply the product either by brush or hand. The more quickly you apply the product, the more even your results will be as it lightens. Leave the bleach wash in for 10 - 40 minutes depending on how light you need to reach for your desired color, then rinse it out and once again follow up with a good conditioning treatment.

Hair bleach

Removing dark hair dye with bleach should only be attempted after you have already used a clarifying shampoo and hair dye remover. Unlike these methods of hair dye removal, bleach is damaging to your hair, and you want to remove as much dye as possible before you decide to use bleach. The more color you can remove before bleaching, the less dye left for the bleach to lighten and the less damage and time it will take to finally reach your desired shade.

If you only need to lighten your hair a little more to reach your desired shade, a bleach wash will be a better way to remove the last traces of color. If you need to lighten your hair more than one shade, and up to 4 shades, a full bleach is the best and most reliable option. However, you should only apply bleach to your hair if it is in good condition. Hair that is naturally fragile or has been bleach previously in the past or dyed extensively shouldn't be bleached.

To prepare your bleach, mix bleach powder and developer in a 1:2 ratio in a tinting bowl. Your hair needs to be properly sectioned out to increase ease and rapidity of application and you can do this by parting it down the middle from your forehead to neck, and then parting it again from ear to ear. When applying bleach, you will take thin layers of hair from the top of a section, moving towards the bottom, and then proceed to the next section and continue until your hair is completely covered.

The volume of developer to use with your bleach can be anything from 10 - 30 vol, and you should use the least concentrated developer that will give you the necessary results. As a general rule, 10 vol will lighten 1 level, 20 vol will lighten 2 levels, and 30 vol will lighten 3 - 4 levels. For better results, use a salon bleach like Wella Blondor Multi-blonde or Igora Vario bleach powder. These bleach powders can lift up to 7 - 8 levels in one process and are less damaging to your hair.

After you apply your bleach, you will need to check the product every 10 minutes for up to an hour while it processes. If it reaches your desired lightness in less time than an hour, rinse it out at that point. Even if it hasn't become as light as you want by the hour point, remove the bleach anyway to avoid drying out your hair too much. By this time, the bleach is mostly exhausted anyway and any further lightening will be minimal.

Lightening power
10 vol
Up to 1 level
20 vol
2 levels
30 vol
3 - 4 levels

Toning your hair

After you have removed black hair dye, regardless of what method used, you will likely need to tone your hair to reach the final color that you want. When you lighten your hair, warm tones are revealed, and this will occur with the use of hair dye remover and bleach. To neutralize these and reach a natural color, you will need to tone these warm tones out with another hair dye.

To decide which hair dye you use, find the exact shade you want, like a light brown color, then use an ash tone in this color. In this case, you would use a light ash brown. The ash tones don't dye your hair light ash brown. They cancel out the warm tones leftover from the hair dye removal process and allow you to reach a more neutral color.

If you want a warmer color, you can simply rinse the ash dye out sooner in the development process rather than waiting for the neutral color. If you want an actual ash color, use an intense ash dye rather than a regular ash dye and leave this in for the full development time. It is perfectly fine to wash the color out at any point when you reach a tone you like.

As with any hair dye removal, it is important to take your time and care for your hair while you remove black hair dye. Rushing into the process without taking all the proper steps and limiting the need for bleach is detrimental to the condition of your hair. If you remove hair color correctly, you'll have healthier, more beautiful hair for a long time to come.

Do you have a question about removing black hair dye or an experience to share? Leave a comment for tailored advice and share your insight with other readers.

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momsdoworkathome profile image

momsdoworkathome 2 years ago from Michigan

Is this the same as having the color lifted?

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 2 years ago Author


It's exactly the same depending on which hairdresser is doing it. Some hairdressers don't use dye remover, some won't use a full bleach and will only use a bleach depends on what they've been taught and what they prefer to do. Removing, stripping, and lifting all refer to this same process.

Melissa 2 years ago

Hi, I love your website. Thanks so much for sharing all your great tips.

Do you recommend a brand of hair color remover?

Color Oops? Color Zap?

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 2 years ago Author

Hi Melissa, I'm glad you like the site!

There are a few brands of colour remover that stand out, but if you're removing a particular brand of hair dye, you'll usually get the best results using their own colour remover. This is because it's formulated to suit their own colour formula very well. Other than that, Juuce Eliminate or De Lorenzo Nova Colour Eliminator are excellent all-rounders.

Melissa 2 years ago

You are Fabulous! Thank you ; )

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 2 years ago Author

No problem Melissa, good luck with your colour!

If you need any more help, feel free to ask.

Michele 21 months ago


This is great: it's the first really informative article I've come across regarding dye removal. I've been using box color for years but for some reason, the last dark brown left my hair looking black. Like, even in the sun.

So far I've tried Clairol Born Blonde without the powder packet, which is what was recommended by the rep at 1-800-clairol. It lightened my roots but didn't touch the rest of my hair. Today I used a box of Color Oops and followed directions to a T: The roots seem even lighter and the rest is maybe just slightly less black. I've got fine, frizzy hair and am more than 50% gray. So now my hair is a brassy strawberry blonde mixed with gray about 1.5" out from my scalp, and then very very dark brown with a slightly red sheen in bright light :(.

I've read about using vitamin C tabs mixed with dandruff shampoo. Have you heard of this? Does it work?

Do you have any advice on my next step? I can't afford corrective color at a salon.

I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks.

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 21 months ago Author

Hi Michele,

Thank you for the kind words; I'm glad you like the article.

It's a little strange that the Clairol rep recommended using that product without even mixing the bleach powder into it. The liquid you used was developer (Hydrogen peroxide solution), and this needs to be mixed with dye or bleach powder for it to work properly.

As for the dye remover not working, I'd recommend trying Juuce Eliminate, De Lorenzo Eliminator, or Vanish Color Corrector next time you try hair dye remover. The Color Oops isn't a very good remover. It also doesn't help that your hair would have been dyed dark so many times if you've been dyeing it for a while. Dye remover generally works very very well if applied after each new colour but loses effectiveness when there's layers of dark dye built up in the hair.

At this point, the best idea is to mix up a bleach wash to take out the excess colour. You'll need bleach powder, developer, and shampoo for this. You can look at my article here if you need to know more about how to prepare, apply, and use a bleach wash:

When applied to your hair, this solution gently lightens it and is great for lightening a hair colour that has turned out too dark. I'd recommend using 10 vol developer in the solution and you'll probably only need to leave it in for 10 - 20 minutes. Apply to the dark lengths only; not the roots, and remove it once it's lightened enough.

For the roots, dye over them with a medium natural brown. Pull this through to the lengths in the last 5 - 10 minutes of application to even out your colour and then you're done.

As for the vitamin C and dandruff shampoo...clarifying shampoo and dandruff shampoo are strong cleansers, so they tend to fade hair colour out quicker than other shampoos. Using one of these will increase fading over time as you wash your hair.

I don't believe adding Vitamin C would really help though. Vitamin C is ascorbic acid, which is acidic and will lower the pH of the shampoo and your hair. This closes the hair cuticles and seals in colour. Conditioner is acidic for this reason, as it closes the cuticles and seals the hair after shampooing, making it smooth, shiny, and locking in colour.

Shampoo, on the other hand, is an alkaline solution and this allows it to open up the cuticles to clean the hair, whilst also resulting in colour fading. If you were to add vitamin C to shampoo, the alkalinity would be neutralised and it would actually be less effective. Vitamin C is good for your body, but probably not very useful on hair.

Good luck with your colour, and if you need any more help, or need some clarification on anything I've said, feel free to ask.

Heather 21 months ago

Hi I have dark brown hair. I used clariol nice and easy darkest brown which turned my hair black. How can i fix it without damanging my hair too much? Is it best to get it done by a hairdresser????

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 20 months ago Author

Hi Heather,

The colour can be gradually faded using clarifying shampoo in place of your regular shampoo. This can only remove so much colour though and takes time, so if you need a quicker removal or can't get enough colour out using this method, you will have to use a bleach wash instead.

To apply a bleach wash, mix bleach powder, shampoo, and developer and apply to slightly damp hair. You should only need to leave this in for 10 - 15 minutes to remove most of the darkness. Rinse it out as soon as it reaches the desired lift in order to avoid excess warm tones being revealed and then shampoo and deep condition your hair. Because the bleach wash is mild and only in contact with your hair for a short time, it lifts out the darkness with barely any damage but you may experience some dryness afterwards.

If you need any help preparing or applying a bleach wash, have a look at my article here:

Arielly 20 months ago

Hello! Before this incident I had colored my dark hair with extra light ash blonde to lift my hair and it gave me an awesome ashy brown color. I decided I wanted to go back black so I used "starry night" and it turned out way too dark! Is there any way I could just dye my hair again with the extra light ash blonde? Or should I go for the color remover first?

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 20 months ago Author

Hi Arielly,

Dye generally won't lighten hair that has been previously dyed because it only works to any great extent on the natural pigment. Any artificial colour from the previous dye won't be lifted.

If the result is just a little too dark for you but close to what you actually want, I'd recommend you bleach wash it for 10 - 15 minutes to lift out some of the colour. This is going to be the easiest way overall.

Whilst you can use dye remover, as long as the dye you're trying to remove is permanent, chances are it will quickly break down most of the dye and remove too much. A bleach wash is a more controlled method when you only want a small amount of lightening.

Roisin 18 months ago

Hi, ive been dying my blonde hair jet black for about 12 years now and over time its become increasingly more damaged, i might add that its naturally curly so of course ive been blow drying and straighening it for as long as ive been dying it every day. Is there anyway to strip all the colour from it with out it all falling out?

mommatek 18 months ago

Roisin.. I also have colored my hair jet black or 1B for well over 10 years, monthly. I have always feared trying to get the black out after a horrendous bleach gone bad experience way back in beauty school that resulted in me basically shaving my hair off. no joke! I will add that I've been a barber/esthetician for 15 years.. just really never got into color or color corrections. Just yesterday I decided to take the plunge to get rid of the black, I used the most incredible product made by Pravana, called Artificial Color Remover. I got the kit which includes 5 treatments for $20 at cost, but I saw it online for $40+ .. this product removes any artificial color molecules from hair. It has zero bleach, ammonia, or formaldehyde.. It is a sulfur base.. so the one and only downfall I've found is that it stinks pretty fierce.. like bad perm solution or rotten eggs.. but I think maybe its only me who it is bothering..

Since my hair has been colored black for so long, I knew it would take several treatments. Follow the directions precisely.. You have to move quickly.. like really quick. This stuff full processes in 20 minutes tops. So I have my husband help do the back while I did the front sections. You wrap it in saran wrap or plastic cap, and either use a blow dryer or sit in front of a space heater for 20 minutes.. You rinse it twice with the shampoo included in the kit.. first shampoo you leave on for 3 minutes and then rinse for 3-5 minutes.. it is critical to rinse for this long. The shampoo is a clarifying shampoo and at first it scared me because my hair felt like straw.. I did 3 treatments back to back, and it lifted almost completely out, except for the ends.. After the final rinse I used a heavy conditioner and I slept with coconut oil in my hair to add moisture. Today I've done three more treatments and the black is almost completely gone without using ANY bleach. My hair is so soft and silky!!! I am currently at a really coppery red color.. but I am just focused and happy to have been able to lift it this much without damage or bleach.. My next step is to use Igora bleach with 10 vol for just 5-10 minutes just on bottom/ends to remove any leftover color.. and depending on how the condition of my hair is, will either wait a few days or just continue with Igora 30 volume with Olaplex (this stuff is literally a miracle and prevents any damage from bleaching.. this stuff is costly but critical to save your hair).. after lifting, I plan to use a 8 or 9 ash to neutralize any brassy or warm tones. But Pravana color remover + Olaplex. A must with this process!! Good luck!! Also, thanks for such an amazing article.. this helped me more than any other website I found. Kudos!!

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 18 months ago Author

Hi Roison,

I almost don't even need to reply to you after mommatek's very thorough comment to you.

The product mommatek used is a dye remover, and this removes permanent dye by reversing the chemical process that actually makes it permanent. This breaks it back down into small colourless molecules that can be shampooed out of your hair. This is why clarifiying shampoo is used as it is stronger and more likely to strip all the dye back out. Any dye that isn't shampooed out can oxidise again and darken back up.

Also, although dye removers are generally excellent products and they cause no damage, not all of them are as effective. The sulfurous smell comes from a reducing agent that contains sulfur and this ingredient isn't always the same. For example, the ingredient used in my favourite dye remover Juuce Eliminate is hydroxymethanesulfinate, but not every dye remover uses this. I'm not sure what reducing agent is used in Pravana's dye remover as I've never used it, but it does sound like it works well. Just be careful of cheap or generic dye removers, they are often a waste of money.

Sometimes you can just use the dye remover a few times and it will continue to take out colour. Other times it will snag at some point and no amount of extra processing helps remove anymore. Use it until it won't remove anymore and then switch to bleach if you need more lightening. Bleach to the level of blonde you want and then tone with an ash blonde 1 - 2 levels lighter depending on how much warmth you're dealing with and how cool you want the result to be.

As for Olaplex, I've never used this either. They don't disclose what is in it, so I'm disinclined to try it or mix it into something like bleach. I might test it in a comparison against plain bleach for lift and damage in future. Feel free to let me know what you think of it if you use it.

Good luck with your colour and let me know if you need any more help or have any problems along the way.

mommatek 18 months ago

Things are going pretty good. I was able to get 99% of the black out with the color remover, it left an all over auburn color.. so I moved on with Blondeme to lift further and after the first process I notice some black stripes.. not many but I figure any color left over had oxidized. I also noticed that adding Opalex to the bleach made the developing time longer.. which made me worry bc Blondeme says max 45 minutes.. I can say my hair feels very healthy but the process needs to be repeated to get to pale yellow. I understand that Opalex also lowers the overall strength of the bleach developer.. so the 30 vol I am using really is a 20 volume.. so there are definitely pros and cons to this process.. it's a slow go over here.

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 18 months ago Author

Hi Mommatek,

That's great. Keeping the hair healthy is the key to transitioning from black to blonde hair. You may notice that those red tones persist well into a lighter blonde or even platinum shade, and this is from the black dye. Whilst natural hair is yellow at the light blonde level, and eventually lifts to pale yellow before being toned to platinum, your hair could continue to look a pale red instead and this doesn't necessarily mean it's not light enough. You have to judge it more on actual 'lightness' than colour.

If you do notice a lot of red remaining once it's at your desired level, adding a tiny amount of Igora Royal 033 to your toner will really help (If you use Igora Royal for the toning).

Joplin 18 months ago

Hi, I like you'r page a lot, has great info.

Now what would you suggest to remove a lvl 7 ( 8 in some parts) ?

I had a lvl 10 ash dyed hair and wanted something natural but found it is my thing and I am a bit afraid of bleach even at 10 to remove the color.

It has been bleached before..

Bleach bath would do it to a lvl 9/10?

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 18 months ago Author

Hi Joplin,

Is the dye a permanent dye? If so, I'd recommend using hair dye remover. Good brands like Juuce Eliminate or Vanish Color Corrector will often remove the unwanted dye completely when it is a light colour like this; especially if it has only been applied once (Not reapplied to the same hair). This will also preserve your hair condition because it is non-damaging. You may need to tone your hair after using the dye remover though, as it can reveal warm tones underneath the dye like bleaching.

However, dye remover will only work on permanent dye. It reverses the chemical process that makes these dyes permanent, but demi-permanent and semi-permanent dyes work in a slightly different way and don't use this same process. In this case, bleach bath to remove the colour, as long as your hair is in good condition. A bleach bath is relatively mild and doesn't cause much damage, but it still should only be used cautiously if your hair is already damaged. Following bleaching, you will need to tone to finish the colour.

Joplin 18 months ago

Hi Maffew,

Yes it is a permanent dye, but I dyed twice the same hair with that 7.

I wanted a little ash tone that's why I dyed again, but it just kept being washed out and turning into a somehow neutral to slightly warm 7.

I guess it isn't a lvl 7 anymore, seems to me like an 8 or really close to an 8..

I really don't know how to take care of this situation.

The problem with the color remover is that i don't really know which variety the stores I buy professional dye from have.

Toning after getting into lvl 9 - 10 wouldn't be a problem I am used to work with those :)

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 18 months ago Author

Hi Joplin,

Don't worry too much if it's going to be too hard to get. Either way it's only a small amount of dye because of how light level 7 shades are (Compared to brown or black shades they lift out quickly and easily). Bleach will lift it out whether dye remover is used or not.

Use a mild bleach bath or mild bleach for lightening the colour. Eg, for a bleach bath, use clarifying shampoo, bleach powder, and 20 vol developer applied to damp hair. With regular bleaching, apply bleach using 10 vol as the developer. Either method will probably only take 15 - 20 minutes to lift back to pale yellow for a pale result, but it could take a little more or a little less time. Keep an eye on it because your hair is light and you don't need it to process too long.

Following that, you will need to tone to finish the colour and get the shade you want. I won't give any further recommendation here as you've said you're confident with that part, but feel free to ask if you have any problems with it or with any other part of the process.

Joplin 18 months ago

Thank you very much Maffew!

I will probably do the bleach bath, what mixing ratio you recommend?

For the toner I am used to tone it with half Igora 9-1 to cut the yellow

and half one of the Igora 9,5 pastel series to give it a tonal direction usually I end up doing roots and so weaving through the hair to hair different platinum tones.

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 18 months ago Author

Hi Joplin,

Mix approximately the same amount of clarifying shampoo as the amount of bleach powder being used. Then add developer to that in the mixing ratio for the bleach powder you're using. This is generally 1:2 powder to developer, but it can vary by brand.

Ie, if you used 30 ml of bleach powder, you would mix this with 30 ml of clarifying shampoo and 60 ml of developer.

malak hammoud 17 months ago

hi, i love ur website and its very helpful thanks, i have a question if we going to do the wash bleach do we add the shampoo and developer to the bleach or just the shampoo ? and another question if we using the bleach full do we use foils or is it how we apply color and do we use heat for this process ?? thank u :)

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 17 months ago Author

Hi Malak,

Yes, shampoo and developer. You need developer whenever you are using bleach as it won't function properly without it.

As for the use of foils, you'd do so to either create highlights or isolate the product to certain sections of hair. You don't use foil for an all over application to all of your hair. I'd recommend not using heat at all, although it is an option with most brands of bleach powder. As long as the brand you're using allows it you can use heat if desired, but it will increase the reaction speed and isn't really of any benefit other than to decrease time. Heat over a shorter time has the same effect as no heat over a longer time. It can be more damaging because the reaction is more intense and the lightening is occurring quicker.

vero 14 months ago

hi I did the jet black revelon over the counter box coor, and its too black, so not ke, how can I reverse this???? Please help!

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 14 months ago Author

Hi Vero,

Dye remover is the best option, as long as the dye used was permanent. If you apply a product like Color Vanish, this will break the dye down so that it can be washed back out. As you just want to soften it and don't want to remove all of it, you can dilute it down with shampoo and apply to damp hair, then rinse after a few minutes and this will take care of the darkness. Otherwise, to remove as much of the dye as possible, apply the product by itself and leave up to 20 minutes before rinsing.

Another alternative to this is to apply a bleach wash and leave this for 5 - 10 minutes at most. This will soften the dark colour by lightening it. It's very gentle because the solution is mild and it's only in your hair for a short time, so even though it's bleach it won't cauise any noticeable damage. You do need to be very even with the application to avoid patchiness though.

Lastly, the most conservative method is to wash it with clarifying shampoo or anti-dandruff shampoo. Both of these kinds of shampoos fade out dye quickly because they're very strong cleansers and strip it out of your hair. It can take a few washes before you see the colour lightening enough though.

Ashley 14 months ago

My friend has been using box color for over a year and wants to go to a level 5 to start .whats the best color remover to use that won't damage her hair but will lighten her to that level

Karolina 14 months ago

I have dyed black hair. I first used colour remover to try and lift as much pigment as possible and it turned orange and 2 days later I did a bleach wash with 20 developer and now it's a yellow/orange color. I want to end up with a medium/dark ash brown hair colour, but I've heard that in these instances you should pick a color that is 2 shades lighter than what you want in order to prevent it from turning black. So do I buy a light ash brown or should I go for a medium intense ash brown and mix that with a 10 volume developer? Thanks so much!

Sarah 13 months ago

Hello after your advice. Been dying my hair black for a few years. Until about 8 months ago I decided I wanted to go Dark brown. So I dyed my regrowth a dark brown and thought I'd grow the black out and keep redying the regrowth dark brown. But it is taking to long that way and need the black out asap and to get a natural dark brown all over. I have a fair bit of regrowth at the moment which is a mousy light brown color and I'm thinking about removing all the dye with a color remover. Past few months I've been using head n shoulders to help strip some of the color which I've found has made the dark brown dye (middle of the hair) brassy and the black (at the ends) sort of fade in some parts but not much at all. Should I use a hair color remover on it all except the natural regrowth? Or is it safe on natural hair aswell. And do I repeat this process if necessary?

After the color is properly stripped is it ok to go straight over the hair with the dark brown hair color I want? Or do I need to tone it first? Also do I go with a dark ash brown to make it look more natural and cut out the possible brassiness from the color removal? Before I forget is it a good idea to use semi permanent hair color than permanent for less damage? Sorry for all the questions thank you for your help!!!!!!!!!

Ann 9 months ago

Hi I love your site. I 've been dyeing my hair for years by hairdressers. I couldn't afford anymore. My hair was dark blonde with lighter highlights ( virgin color is dark brown)

A month ago I applied a box brown colour to my gray roots. It did not cover my roots and my lengths turn out some red.

A week later I applied a box of "Clairol root touch up". My hair went very dark in the roots and at the very front part of my hair but my ends are still light.

Please, how could I fix this? All I want is a nice light natural brown. I don't want to damage my hair. My hair is a below shoulder length. Do I have to remove dye? Do I have to do a bleach wash or just use a clarifying shampoo. Where in Toronto, Ontario I could buy these products.

Please, advise what to buy, amounts and length of time to apply it. How long after I strip my hair I could tone it back? Another thing is my gray grows very quickly. What type of hair colour and hair treatments should I use to keep a healthy hair?

Thank you very much for your help

Shannon 8 months ago

my roots come in gray. I have been dying my hair dark brown for two years. I'm read to go completely gray. What would be the fastest and least damaging way to do so?

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 8 months ago Author

Hi Shannon,

With dyed dark brown or black hair, removal is never an overly quick process because it needs to be bleached several times before you will see any significant lightening. In your situation, where you have been applying dark dye for 2 years, use of a dye remover likely wouldn't help in this regard due to the amount of dye present, leaving bleach as the only useful option.

When bleaching the dark brown out, you can perform a full bleach process or use bleach bathing. The end result is the same, but a bleach bath is weaker and will need to be applied more times than a full bleach to achieve the same amount of lift. It's generally less damaging to go with a weaker formulation and gradually strip it anyway, so even if you do go with the full bleach, this should be with no greater than 20 vol developer. Either product should only be applied once in a 1 - 2 week period to prevent excessive damage and allow the hair to rest, and a protein treatment can be used in-between bleaching to keep your hair stronger and healthier.

Fiona 7 months ago

Hi I have been dying my hair black for a good 7/8 years. I have tried stripping it 4/5 times but the only thing that's stripped is about 2 I of roots the rest is exactly the same. I am thinking of bleaching it. But wanted to know as my roots are lighter do I leave them. Ty.

Kristine 6 months ago

Help! I used a box color that is med golden chestnut brown - my hair turned very very dark. I used the same product color removal and my hair was orange (I thought that was to be expected). I read that I could then color again. I used a light golden brown. My hair to put it nicely. I am using a violect corrector plus in my shampoo and a gloss (just a leave-in after I condition). It is not helping. Any suggestions? Or do I say UNCLE and call my stylist? This was 3-4 days ago. Thanks

Maffew James profile image

Maffew James 6 months ago Author

Hi Khristine,

The main reason it remained orange in this situation is because the golden brown shade doesn't contain enough cool tone to counteract the warmth. It's also possible that your hair is a little darker than a light brown, in which case shades at this level are going to have less of effect. It depends a lot on how much colour the dye remover was able to strip out.

Luckily, it's fairly easy to fix this though, as long as your hair is already even. If your hair is a patchy orange red colour with darker and lighter bits, this method will still work to tone it to a nicer natural result, but will do nothing for the unevenness because toning only corrects the colour, rather than the depth (how dark the different sections are). To tone it, simply apply light ash brown and rinse when you're happy with the colour. The ash shade adds cool tone to your hair to counteract the warmth and it will gradually shift from orange, to copper brown, to a warm brown, to neutral, and finally to a cool or ash brown result depending on how long the dye is left before rinsing and the amount of warmth that is present.

On the off chance that the light ash doesn't fully neutralise the warmth to the point that you're happy with it even though it has reached full development time, this means that your hair is darker and will need a darker dye to tone it, in which case you can mix equal amounts of light ash brown and medium ash brown, or simply use medium ash brown to tone it instead, based on the initial effect seen. When toning, the cool tone added to neutralise warmth will always add from half a level, to one full level of depth to your hair, meaning it becomes darker by the time it is fully corrected. The opposite effect is seen when lightening hair as the base tone is revealed.

Wendy 6 months ago

Where do I buy the color removers you recommend?

Wendy8477 6 months ago


Where can I buy the color removers you recommended? What's the best brand?

Mary 5 months ago

I used 8n 20 vol on a clients roots 1/2" out (have been doing this multiply times) and it turned out closer to a 6 this time. Help!! Told her to keep shampooing it but not lifted . What next it is just her roots.

brook lewis 5 months ago

I need serious help!!!!! I have been dyeing my hair with a perminate 01-Black hair for eight years!!! Usually the $3.00 to $5.00 garnier frutis from dollar general!!!! It has become a black box disaster!!!! A few salons have told me that i just need to let it grow. . .because i DO NOT WANT TO BLEACH IT because I am 31 and my hair is long, I have always had long thick hair!!!! The reason. I WANT A NO BLEACH PROSS is because for the very 1st time in my life i get highlights . . .I see girls combing out my hair and its falling out everwhere and this was In september of last year i was attending a wedding and went to a salon for some light carmel high lights . . .and the girl used a 40 on my hair and burned it off!!! She didnt even ask me to pay!!!!! How can i get this black out without doing anymore damage?? Ive been using a demi since september and just this month started a semi . . . .what the best way to get atleast get to the darkest shad of brown????? Instructions please??? If possible . . step by step . . .i have no exsperiense with hair dye except the 01 black box disaster!!! Any tips or ideas would be greatly appreciated thank you in advance!!!!!

stef 5 months ago

hi can someone give me an example of which shampoo i should use frequently to fade the colour?thanks

Rene 5 months ago

Hey babe, thanks for sharing your knowledge with us :) I have some questions and hopefully you can help me with them. I am planning to bleach 3 inches black roots. what volume of the developer would your recommend? I am planning to add olaplaex into the mixture. Also, directly after the 3 inches of black is one inch of ugly brassy color which was bleached before. Can I use the same mixture on the area or should I mix a new batch with a higher/lower developer? Thank you!

Trish 3 months ago

My daughter has been putting permanent colour on her hair for a few years.

her hair was black and patchy, we bought 3 boxes B4 as her hair is long, her hair has gone ginger like you said, but her roots are still dark with bits of grey.

followed your instruction to get light ash brown and ten volume, putting the ash brown on her roots it went blackly blue colour we got such a shock at the colour we washed it straight off?

Please advise us step by step!!!!!!!!! many thanks for you help.

Alex 2 months ago

can you use normal household/bathroom bleach?

Crys 6 weeks ago

Hi, Love the info on this page.

I have really long roots because I was pregnant and growing out my hair with the intentions of going back to my natural colour afterwards. I was wondering if the clarifying shampoo and/or hair dye remover will negatively affect my root colour or if I should try to avoid applying it there? Thanks in advance. :)

Angel Wolfe 3 weeks ago

So I decided grey is for me, but should have bleached more level on the bottom. Whilst I told my bf to get the back and cover any hint of brown.. I now am attempting to rock all black hair. I was a very light ombre blonde. Now I simply want to lighten the bottom for a black to silver grey. How should I go about this? Hair emergency so my email is

Thank you Thank you Thank you

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