Maffew is a hairdresser, marketer, and dabbler in many things who enjoys sharing knowledge about the science of hair coloring and hair care.
Black hair dye is one of the most difficult dyes to remove from your hair. It can take several different steps depending on how much lighter you wish to go before you can reach your desired color.
However, it is possible to remove black hair dye without causing unnecessary damage. You can strip out the black hair color and reach any new shade. Whether you want a brown or blonde result, rest assured you can get there eventually if you're patient and act gently.
Different Methods to Remove Black Hair Dye
Before you start, it's important to understand the methods that are available to you. There are a few highly effective removal methods you can use, and you may need to use more than one for the best result:
- Clarifying shampoo
- Hair dye remover
- Bleach wash
- Full head bleach
- Mild alternatives
How to Approach Removing Dark Hair Dye
Dark hair dyes are much more difficult to remove than lighter dyes, especially in the case of black color which is richly pigmented. In order to remove black hair dye without causing too much damage and wrecking your hair, you need to be systematic. Taking an approach that is slow, steady, and preferably using the least-damaging method of hair dye removal will help to keep your hair healthier, although it will take a little longer.
As such, the process begins with the use of fairly benign methods before moving onto stronger treatments like bleach. The most common methods to use 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 the damage they can potentially cause to your hair. This is also the appropriate order that you should follow when you are removing dark hair dye from your hair at home, exhausting the effectiveness of one option before moving onto the next.
Shampooing your hair or using dye remover causes no damage, although it may dry your hair. Bleach washes or a full bleach, however, will damage your hair and require some caution before using. I'd recommend not jumping straight to these options first unless you're faced with time constraints and understand the risk involved to your hair's condition.
Clarifying shampoo should always be the first step you take in your pursuit to remove black hair dye. Not only is shampooing your hair not damaging at all, but it can also really help to remove a lot of the buildup of dye that occurs when you apply a dark color like black to your hair.
This gives you a great head start. The more color you can remove without resorting to bleach, the better the condition your hair will be in at the end.
How to Use
Simply replace your regular shampoo with an effective clarifying shampoo. Use this a few times every time you shampoo your hair for the first few weeks before you consider turning 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.
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 being 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 to prevent your hair from becoming dry and brittle.
Frequent use of clarifying shampoo isn't harmful or damaging to your hair but the dryness it causes can lead to minor damage if not addressed.
While a clarifying product is the most effective for use in stripping out hair color and impurities in general, certain other shampoos have a similar function. Anti-dandruff shampoos in particular are generally very effective for this, as are chelating shampoos.
After using a clarifying shampoo or similar product, 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. This will help to minimize damage because your hair is strongest when its pH balance is in the correct range.
Hair Dye Remover
Hair dye remover is the best method of color removal because it reverses the process that takes place in your hair when you use a permanent hair dye. It is the oxidation of hair dye that makes it permanent and traps it in your hair. Hair dye remover breaks the oxidized 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 your hair, like a clarifying shampoo. Dye remover doesn't cause damage, however, and you can use it a few times before resorting to bleach to minimize damage.
You may not even have to use bleach at all if you're lucky. Any dryness experienced after use can be relieved with a deep conditioner or a conditioning treatment similar to what you would have done for the clarifying shampoo step.
How to Use the Product
Hair dye remover consists of two separate solutions that need to be mixed to start the chemical reaction that will break the permanent hair dye molecules back down. Mix only as much as you need, and don't mix the products until you're ready to apply the hair dye remover. Otherwise, you will waste any leftover product as it can't be kept and reused later.
Apply the dye remover either by brush or by hand, as quickly as possible to ensure evenness, and leave it in your hair for 20–25 minutes unless the brand you're using recommends a specific time-frame. The hair dye remover will usually begin to work very quickly. 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, whether due to excessive buildup or other circumstances, the hair dye remover is still breaking down much of the artificial color in your hair. This will make it easier for bleach to remove the remaining color if you still need to go lighter later on, reducing the total potential damage to your hair.
Rinsing and Aftercare
After you rinse the product out, shampoo your hair at least two times to ensure you remove all the dye molecules that have been broken down. You need to shampoo your hair as thoroughly as possible or else any dye left in your hair will oxidize again, potentially leading to some darkening in the hours that follow.
Follow this shampooing with a quality deep conditioner or a conditioning treatment to relieve any dryness and give your hair a rest for a week before you move on to bleach if necessary.
Using a Bleach Wash to Remove Hair Dye
A bleach wash—also known as a bleach bath—is a gentler way to bleach your hair than a full head bleach because the product 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 slightly and remove any dark hair dye buildup that's left after you've used clarifying shampoo and hair dye remover already.
How to Prepare and use the Product
Making a bleach wash is fairly simple and there's less risk of unevenness or irritation compared to a regular treatment.
- Mix the bleach powder and developer in equal amounts.
The quantity required depends on the length of your hair, but you will only need about half what you would for a regular application. Developer commonly comes in strengths called volumes ranging from 10 vol up to 40 vol. A higher volume produces more lightening at the risk of increased irritation.
Don't use higher than 20 vol for a bleach wash because it's meant to be a gentle product.
- Add shampoo to the mix.
You'll need to add roughly the same amount as the first two ingredients so that shampoo forms one third of the total product. Try to use shampoo for normal or oily hair rather than moisturizing products as this will reduce the effectiveness.
Avoid any urge to add conditioner, it's oil based and acidic so it impairs the penetration and lightening of the bleach wash.
- Wet your hair and apply the mix with a brush, working quickly.
You can work in quadrants or be more haphazard, the fact that your hair is wet makes it simple to spread the product through all hair afterwards so focus mostly on speed rather than precision.
- Massage it through your hair thoroughly from near the roots outwards.
Don't massage it into your scalp like you would if you were washing your hair with shampoo though as this will increase irritation.
- Leave up to 20 minutes.
The product can be left on for as long as the manufacturer recommends, but for a bleach wash this is more of a maximum possible time-frame and a shorter duration of 10–20 minutes is recommended. Repeat successive treatments after giving the hair a few days to recover, as the condition allows.
A bleach wash is fairly forgiving and you can add more shampoo to dilute the bleach further, or simply use a lighter volume of developer if your hair or scalp are sensitive. As you are applying it to wet hair, the water in your hair dilutes the bleach down quite a lot.
This means that not only is the product weaker than standard bleach but that the developer used is more similar to a lower volume in terms of irritation and lightening effect. Use the lowest strength that will be effective on your hair, especially for situations where you have lots of hair dye buildup that will require multiple washes.
For a more detailed discussion of how to do a bleach bath, check out this article.
When Should you use a Wash VS a Regular Application?
If you need to lighten your hair a lot to reach your desired shade, you should generally use a full bleach rather than a bleach wash. You should also use the regular application first before a wash if you anticipate you'll need it at all. This will make it easier to judge the condition of your hair and allows you to more readily stop going any further with the process before breakage begins to occur.
If you've successfully removed a lot of pigment with mild treatments like shampoo and dye remover and only need to remove a little more of the black hair dye to reach the shade you want, a bleach wash will be better since it will leave your hair in better condition.
Fragile hair will also benefit from multiple mild bleach washes over time rather than a full application. Use your best judgement—you likely know your own hair pretty well.
How to Use Hair Bleach to Remove Hair Dye
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 this method. The more color you can remove before bleaching, the less damage and time it will take to reach your new desired color because there will be less pigment in the way.
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—like up to four 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 bleached previously in the past or dyed extensively generally shouldn't be bleached.
How to Use Bleach
- To prepare your bleach, mix bleach powder and developer in a 1:2 ratio in a tinting bowl. The ratio may vary with brand.
- Your hair needs to be properly sectioned out to make the application quick and even. You can do this by parting it down the middle from your forehead to neck and then parting it again from ear to ear into four quadrants.
- When applying bleach, 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.
- After you apply your bleach, you will need to check the product every 10 minutes for up to an hour while it processes. The maximum time you can leave the product in also varies by brand so be aware of that. If it reaches your desired lightness in less time, rinse it out at that point.
- Even if it hasn't become as light as you want by the maximum recommended duration, remove the bleach. By this time, the bleach is mostly exhausted anyway and any further lightening will be minimal, at the expense of continued damage.
For a more detailed account of how to bleach hair, check out this article.
The volume of developer to use with your bleach can be anything from 10–30. You should use the least concentrated developer that will give you the necessary results. As a general rule:
- 10 will lighten one level
- 20 will lighten two levels, and
- 30 will lighten three to four levels.
It's also important to note that some brands of bleach powder contain boosters and should not be used with more than 20 vol developer. Read the product directions to confirm this prior to use for your own safety.
Up to 1 level
3 - 4 levels
A number of alternative methods can also be used to remove hair color with mild and varying efficacy. As this article pertains particularly to black hair dye, which is intensely pigmented, these options are either too weak to place much consideration into, or a better similar option already exists. Nevertheless I'll list them here:
- Baking soda
- Dish soap
- Vitamin C
How to use Baking Soda to Remove Hair Dye
Baking soda is a natural product used for many things from cleaning to baking, as per the name. In some cases, it can help with your efforts to remove color from your hair.
This is possible because baking soda is alkaline so it forces the hair cuticles to open, allowing more pigment to be rinsed out during shampooing. It enhances the action of shampoo rather than acting on its own.
- Mix baking soda with a small amount of shampoo to form a runny paste. If the paste is too thick, you can add a little water to thin it out.
- Lather the mix through wet hair and let it sit for a few minutes so that the alkaline environment is produced.
- Rinse the product out thoroughly and follow up with a good conditioner to seal the hair again. You may prefer to add a little white vinegar to your conditioner to enhance this as open cuticles cause the hair to feel rough, frizz easily, and not handle humidity. Vinegar is acidic and will neutralize any leftover baking soda but won't smell or linger after drying.
How to Remove Hair Dye With Dish Soap
Dish soap is very good at cleaning and it has a similar effect if used on hair. As it doesn't typically contain any kind of moisturizing ingredients or the like, it will dry your hair more than any shampoo. It's also not very kind on your skin if used in large amounts.
If you want to try it on your hair, you can use it in place of shampoo, but I'd personally recommend just sticking with the real thing because it does a good enough job on its own already without drying your hair to the point of brittleness.
This one is actually less crazy than it sounds. Vitamin C acts as a reducing agent, which happens to be how dye remover works so it acts like a very mild version of this. As the remover performs the same function with incredibly higher efficacy, there's no real reason to use this, though I personally agree with the premise of how it works.
This sort of method is more helpful for softening a hair color that turned out too dark rather than fully removing black hair dye, which is so highly pigmented to the point of almost always requiring harsher methods to dislodge the color.
Toning Your Hair
After you have removed your black hair dye, regardless of what method you 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. 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 to use, find the exact shade you want and use an ash tone in this color. For example, if you want a light brown color, use a light ash brown. The ash tones won't dye your hair light ash brown but they will cancel out the warm tones leftover from the dye removal process. This will 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 or mix the ash shade into your desired shade to give it some toning power. 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.
Note: Depending on your hair porosity you may want to consider using a shade lighter than your intended shade, especially if your hair has been subjected to a lot of bleaching as it will likely absorb a lot of pigment and could turn out darker than expected.
With any hair dye removal, it is important to take your time and care for your hair while you remove the 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.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Maffew James
Bianca on June 22, 2020:
Hi I tried colour remover three boxes and day after baking soda hair still pitch black only roots is brown with grey:(
TONYA on June 02, 2020:
Removing dark brown safely to a very light blonde than adding back the natural color which is grey ,what is a nice grey color to use
Kymsummer on April 27, 2020:
I have dark brown hair and I have lightened it up a bit naturally but would like to get back at having light brown hair a dirty blonde can you advise me on what to do next please
Pat on March 03, 2020:
Is this household bleach
Maffew James (author) on November 28, 2019:
I'd suggest you educate yourself on the use of hair dye remover. "Can not get it out without bleach", bleach isn't the first thing to use for this kind of treatment.
Not everyone looking to do this has dyed their hair over and over with black dye, and whilst there's no chance of not having to use bleach in some capacity if you have dyed it repeatedly, this generalisation you make that such a situation applies to everyone - I've written the article in such a way to hopefully make it clear who stands a good chance of being able to successfully remove the dye, who might have to settle for less, and when to give up to save the integrity of the hair.
The process follows a logical flow. Wash it repeatedly to remove the dye that will move > use hair dye remover to strip out as much as possible (which in the case of only dying it once or twice, can often remove most of the pigment, drastically lessening the amount of bleach required for any further lightening or correction desired) > bleach or bleach wash depending on how much pigment needs to be dealt with > tone to neutralise the warmth.
I really wonder what product line you're using that it either doesn't have a dye remover available (or that you don't stock one from another brand), or that you could apply bleach and not see even 'a little' lift. I've never encountered dyed black hair, even dyed several times, that couldn't at least be lifted a few levels with a single application of bleach. Perhaps it's that you don't use dye remover before bleaching, or perhaps your brand of bleach is just crap, but it's wild.
And that vague statement that 'you will only get a warm tone' as if toning and color correction don't exist. You know you can neutralise any unwanted color right? Yellow, orange, even blue or green. If you don't want it, you can formulate to 'remove' it by adding the complementary tone into the hair. You don't get stuck with 'a warm tone' just because you removed some dye, as if the hair will somehow miraculously never obey the laws of physics anymore and stop reflecting light.
Look, I agree with you that drastic treatments like this are best performed in the salon, but this article isn't for people who are sitting in the salon. This is for the people who either can't or won't go, no matter what you tell them. I don't think it's any reason to censor knowledge, just put it out and let people choose what they want to do with it, in the end they may very-well decide such a process is beyond what they think they can reasonably achieve and knowing how it's done is the only thing that will actually convince them. For others still, it's well within their capacity to do something like this. You have to believe that people will make educated decisions based on what is manageable and achievable to them if you give them a chance.
Thanks for the discussion, as mind-boggling as some of what you said sounds to me. I wish you the best within your career and I hope you'll try some other product lines beyond whatever your salon is using because it sounds like that is the issue and clouding your perception of what is achievable. The effectiveness of lightener varies so much between a good brand and a low-end product.
Michele faço on November 28, 2019:
all of you clients out there you cannot get the black out of your hair without bleach and it may not even be possible to get it moved out a little I am an experienced hair colorerst done this many time CANNOT GET IT OUT without bleach end of story and you will only get a warm tone and hair must be conditioned a lot This is only for PROFESSIONAL so save up your money and get it done right
destiny on September 11, 2019:
thanks this was a great method i used the vitamin d tablets they helped a little then i used the vinger shampoo and baking soda that helped so much -thank you
Katie on August 07, 2019:
I have been dying my hair black for a year. I've used two bottles of oops. Only the top of my hair is lighter. The test is still black. I dont want to bleach it. Should I just use another brand of hair dye removal?
Judy on May 07, 2019:
I had dyed my hair black I am a natural brunette. I tried to dye my hair a different color to only find that the dye only colored my roots. I am 67 and have gray roots. I was laughed so hard. I had no idea what would happen. I have used a product called oops and another lightening effect and a bleach kit 20 volume and my hair still is black. !!!! I want to dye my hair a burgundy. Do you think bleach powder would work and how would I mix the bleach and developer?
Anita on March 10, 2019:
If I follow the baking soda process how long do i wait to re dye my hair at home
Heather on February 20, 2019:
I dyed my hair black but now want to change it how do i get the black out
CHANTELLE on March 22, 2018:
I have bleached my hair numerous times and at last it is beautifull blond getting closer to what I want...yet the black dye is still left in the middle of my hair length we have used colour removal but lately it struggles to lift even a shade lighter....is there still hope to get that pieces much lighter?
hairlover on November 09, 2017:
dont do the bleach wash on wet hair! applying bleach to wet hair doesnt change how much it lightens your hair it just fries your hair i know from experience it will absolutely ruin your hair
Mariah on October 13, 2017:
Hiw effective is vitamin c and shampoo at removing black dye from hair
Gerda Morris on August 25, 2017:
Is this produc available in South Africa ?
Helen Dixon on August 17, 2017:
I've stripped my friends hair 3times on the ends as she wants ombre can i use 40pe rcent developer with bleach ?
Vnessa on August 16, 2017:
Hello everyone I was just passing thru here and I noticed there are a lot of questions with little to no feedback
Helen Dixon on August 14, 2017:
I have stripped my friends hair from 3 quarters of the way down as she want it ombre hence why I didn't do it from roots, it has had a week's break will i be able to use bleach with 40percent developer to reach the desired shade ?
dione2284 on August 12, 2017:
Hi, I really need help, my step daughter wants to go lighter for going back to school next week, she's been dying her hair for about a year with black demi permanent box dye, I've used colour b4 twice and it went reddish brown but then a week later went back to black, I took her to hairdresser and she took a sample, she said it took 3 hours for the colour to lift to a dark orange, but she can't fit my step daughter in before school. I've dyed my own hair and bleached it before so I want to give it a go, I bought Olaplex and Wella Blondor as well as a 30 and 20 developer, I was thinking of a bleach bath on her hair, will this give any lift to it? Would just like to get her to brown and lighten over time, at the minute she has about 3 inches of strawberry blonde (her natural colour) roots. Can someone please advise the best method for her, bleach bath or straight up bleach and how to apply?
Helen Dixon on August 10, 2017:
I've stripped my friends hair 3 times and she want highlights whats the maxium strengh developer i can use?
Rowayda on August 06, 2017:
I am naturally grey and coloured my hair black and would like to strip the colour and go natural grey again
Please advise on bleaching process
koukikouki on July 19, 2017:
i dye my hair black before. i bleach wash it to remove the black hair color but it seems still too dark but when i go outside i can that its like red or brown. is it ok if i dye my hair another color?
donna joy on July 03, 2017:
I have about 3 or 4 inches of almost pure white (a little sterling silver) roots growing in. I
My hair is about 12/14 inches long. It is fine and my hair is sparse. I would like to start, leaving the ends, rather than cutting them off. I am thinking I should only wash the ends with clarifying shampoo? Is this available sulfate free, do you know? I am leary of hair salons. The level of skill is so variable. I have colored my own hair for years, but am ready to stop. I am so tired of black ends and white roots. I would like to get the ends to match the roots and then just do maintenance till I have trimmed off the ends and all that is left is my natural color which is close to white, but not quite. What do you think my chances are of success at this? email@example.com
Please feel free to post my inquiry and your response, but would appreciate it if you could also send it to me at that address. I am 66 years old and have recently lost 80 pounds. I believe I might have the confidence, finally, to just let my hair go gray, but am terrified of a catastrophe. Growning old is not for sissies. firstname.lastname@example.org. If you post my comment, please remove my address. Thank you.
Kiya64 on May 24, 2017:
Seems to me that people are asking questions but not getting any reply? That includes me!!
Is anyone giving feedback on here or am I just wasting my time looking for answers
Kiya64 on May 23, 2017:
Hi I have short black dyed hair with grey roots & wanting to go several shades lighter to match my skin tone. If I use a colour stripper what colour would I expect as I have no pigment in my hair and what process should I take. HELP !!!!!!
Lynsie Williams on May 21, 2017:
I had my hair dyed black several years ago. To this day my hair is still black, my natural color is a dark brown! I would love to have my natural hair color back. Would this process help me achieve getting my natural color back?
Kellie A Mcarthur on May 07, 2017:
I dyed my hair black about three weeks ago an I want to go blond now how long should I wait to do this
Pamela on March 26, 2017:
My daughter has a heavy build up of black hair die,I always use c Clairol stage 7 to lift dark colors out but Clairol is discontinued that product and I was told to use super blue from L'Oreal and apparently the way she got her hair in the past the root touch up she pulled some black color throughout the hair but not totally so I'm left with patchy orangie Carmel color sporadically here and there, so I'm guessing I need to just use bleach and brush it on and missing the spots that lifted so I don't overlap and get lighter areas still, I'd like to know what is comparable to Stage 7 by Clairol and could colada color be used to lift the rest, oh I only applied it to the mid section, so she still has dark black on roots and ends, with your suggestions thank you?
Rhonda on March 23, 2017:
One of my stylist a tempted to do a corrective color today on on black hair she used a color remover to lift the black dye it lifted up to a 8 easily she then put a 7 on her hair it went back to jet black she said color silk was all she had on her hair any suggestions how to prevent it from grabbing black everytime and she put a porosity equalizer on her hair
Nina Witteveen on March 01, 2017:
Hello, I just love your sight, it is my go to place, thank you so much.
I believe I am 100% white/grey.
When doing the colour remover would it hurt to just go over the roots? They have no colour at all. I think I may have to do the bleach wash after though, I have been colouring for yrs. Dark brown. My hair is at the middle of my back.
I am wanting to see what it would look like white..Lol crazy I know!!
After I might put some chunks of a darker grey to add some depth.
Aimee on February 01, 2017:
Hi... I had blonde hair and dyed it cool black. It has come out blue. I did it again 3 days later, thinking it would darken the blue to black. It just made it bluer. Now I have midnight blue hair! U would like to go back to the beginning before I messed it up, but anything is better than blue. I might add that I all have to go to work every day through this process. Will following this article fix it m
Denise hartzog on December 23, 2016:
So my hair haven't been bleached in over a year from time to time I rinse my hair different colors well my last color has happen to be black and now I'm trying to get rid of the black and dye back to blonde I washed it twice and my roots have turned a darkish green any helpful tips that are easy without having to add any bleach chemicals ?
Fiona, on November 02, 2016:
Hi Problem.... while trying to put some dark streaks into grey/white hair we are now left with the back of our head looking like a cow pattern. need to remove the dye.... fast.....any suggestions would be appreciated
real real real hair emergency.... HELP PLEASE.... email@example.com
Crys on September 10, 2016:
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. :)
Alex on August 11, 2016:
can you use normal household/bathroom bleach?
Trish on July 13, 2016:
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.
Rene on May 25, 2016:
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!
stef on May 25, 2016:
hi can someone give me an example of which shampoo i should use frequently to fade the colour?thanks
brook lewis on May 11, 2016:
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!!!!!
Mary on May 09, 2016:
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.
Wendy8477 on April 22, 2016:
Where can I buy the color removers you recommended? What's the best brand?
Wendy on April 20, 2016:
Where do I buy the color removers you recommend?
Maffew James (author) on March 30, 2016:
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.
Kristine on March 29, 2016:
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 is.....orange-ish 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
Fiona on February 29, 2016:
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.
Maffew James (author) on February 22, 2016:
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.
Shannon on February 20, 2016:
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?
Ann on January 08, 2016:
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
Sarah on September 27, 2015:
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!!!!!!!!!
Karolina on August 25, 2015:
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!
Ashley on August 19, 2015:
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
Maffew James (author) on August 06, 2015:
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.
vero on August 05, 2015:
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 (author) on May 27, 2015:
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.
malak hammoud on May 26, 2015:
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 (author) on April 30, 2015:
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.
Joplin on April 29, 2015:
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 (author) on April 29, 2015:
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 on April 27, 2015:
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 (author) on April 27, 2015:
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 on April 24, 2015:
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 (author) on April 14, 2015:
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).
mommatek on April 11, 2015:
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 (author) on April 11, 2015:
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 on April 09, 2015:
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!!
Roisin on April 09, 2015:
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?
Maffew James (author) on February 07, 2015:
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.
Arielly on February 06, 2015:
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 (author) on February 02, 2015:
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: https://bellatory.com/hair/How-to-do-a-bleach-wash...
Heather on January 29, 2015:
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 (author) on January 04, 2015:
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: https://bellatory.com/hair/How-to-do-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.
Michele on January 03, 2015:
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 (author) on October 09, 2014:
No problem Melissa, good luck with your colour!
If you need any more help, feel free to ask.
Melissa on October 09, 2014:
You are Fabulous! Thank you ; )
Maffew James (author) on October 07, 2014:
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 on October 06, 2014:
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 (author) on July 17, 2014:
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 bath...it depends on what they've been taught and what they prefer to do. Removing, stripping, and lifting all refer to this same process.
Katina Davenport from Michigan on July 16, 2014:
Is this the same as having the color lifted?