How to Remove Hair Dye
Dying your hair is one of the quickest and easiest ways to change your look, and with an almost limitless choice of colors available, it's never been simpler to get the exact look you want. If you've dyed your hair and decided that a color isn't for you however, you may be wondering how to remove it.
How to remove dye
There are a couple of different methods available to remove hair dye, and each method has its own drawbacks and benefits. These methods consist of:
- Bleaching your hair
- Performing a bleach wash
- Using color remover
- Dyeing your hair darker
- Toning your hair
- Washing your hair with clarifying shampoo
Clarifying shampoo is designed to be strong enough to remove buildups of styling products and oil, and it is this trait that allows it to remove hair dye. Using a clarifying shampoo in place of your regular shampoo will help to fade hair dye much quicker than would otherwise be possible with regular shampoos. Because of this, you can use a clarifying shampoo to gradually lighten hair that has been dyed dark. This is most useful when your color has turned out a little on the dark side and you just want to soften it.
The main drawback to clarifying shampoo is that the shampoo is harsher on hair than other shampoos, and can't remove the bulk of color present in dyed hair. If you use a clarifying shampoo, it should only be used to subtly fade a hair color that is too dark. You will also need to use ample amounts of conditioner to counteract the hair drying effect that the clarifying shampoo has.
Hair toner is useful if you want to remove bright colors like red or purple, or if you need to remove excessive ash tones from blonde hair. It can't remove dark hair dye or dye your hair darker, but it can correct tones that you don't like or wish to remove.
To use toner to correct unwanted tones in your hair, you'll need to determine what those tones are. In the case of blonde hair that has been over-processed, these tones will often be green, blue, violet, or gray in appearance. Once you've determined what tone you're trying to combat, you can tone it out by using a color wheel. Colors on the wheel that are directly opposite to each other are complementary tones and will neutralize each other. In this sense, if you wanted to remove ash tones out of your hair, you would use a copper or gold tone depending on whether it was blue or violet ash used for the original color.
This method can also be used on bright red or purple hair if you want to tone it back to a natural shade but don't want to lighten or darken your hair. Red hair can be neutralized with the use of green based ash dye, and purple can be neutralized with a gold tone. For hair that is a combination of red and purple, red and copper, or purple and violet, you have to mix a blend of appropriate complementary tones to neutralize it completely. For example, mahogany hair is a combination of red and violet, and you need to use a green-gold toner to drab it.
Dye removal damage
None - very minimal
Dying it darker
Minimal - moderate
None - very minimal
Should you use bleach?
Bleach is best used to remove hair dye for hair that has suffered minimal chemical damage. Hair that has been relaxed, permed, dyed repeatedly, or bleached previously should not be bleached. If your hair is still in strong and healthy condition despite chemical treatments, you are still able to bleach it, but you will need to be careful. Being sensible is the best way to keep your hair healthy when you remove hair dye from it.
There are two options available to remove hair dye with bleach:
- Use a bleach wash
- Use a full bleach process
When deciding which method of bleaching you should use, you need to ask yourself how much color you want to remove. If you only need to remove 1 - 2 levels, you can achieve this with a bleach wash usually, and this method will be less damaging to the hair. If you need more lift, a full bleach is required for reliable results.
To perform a bleach wash, prepare bleach powder as recommended by the brand you've chosen to use and then add an equal quantity of shampoo. The volume of developer can be anything from 10 vol to 30 vol depending on the amount of lift needed and the sensitivity of your scalp. Apply the bleach wash to damp hair and leave it for up to 20 minutes before washing it out.
A full bleach is different in that it does not include the shampoo, and should be applied to dry hair for best results. To use this method, prepare bleach powder using 20 vol developer and apply it to your hair in sections. The application is easiest if you divide your hair into quadrants by parting the hair from forehead to the back of your neck, and then again from ear to ear, working on one quadrant at a time until your hair is completely covered. If your hair is in good condition, your scalp isn't too sensitive, and you need the added lift, you can use 30 vol developer for extra lightening power if the brand being used allows this. Leave the bleach for up to 45 minutes before washing it out.
Regardless of what method of bleaching you choose to use, it is necessary to tone your hair to neutralize the warm tones that will show up when you remove dark hair dye. To do this, apply an ash dye that is 1 level lighter than your hair currently is and rinse when it reaches a tone that you are satisfied with.
When mixed and applied to hair, Goldwell color remover will strip out permanent hair dye without causing damage.
Color remover is the one of the most effective and least damaging ways to remove hair dye, and should be considered as the first line of treatment when you want to remove permanent dye. It only works on permanent dye though, so it can't be used on semi-permanent or temporary colors. For color that isn't permanent, you will need to either wash it until it fades out, or use a bleach bath or full bleach to lift it out and toner to neutralize any remaining color.
Permanent dye becomes permanent as a result of the oxidation produced by the developer mixed into the dye. As a chemical reaction is required to do this, dye remover is able to remove hair dye by reversing this reaction to allow the permanent color molecules to be washed back out of the hair. It is best used on hair that has only been dyed once, though can be effective on hair that is coated with a couple of dyes. Whether it will remove all the dye or only part of it depends on a combination of how much dye you've used on your hair, and how dark that dye is.
Dye remover is packaged as two separate solutions: an acid solution and a sulfurous reducing agent. To use it to remove hair dye, you need to mix both solutions together to activate the chemical reaction and then apply it quickly to your hair. Dye remover must be applied immediately after it is mixed together, because the chemical reaction taking place will slow down and eventually cease after time, making it much less effective if it has sat for a few minutes before application.
Leave the dye remover in your hair for about 25 minutes. You will notice significant changes taking place in this short time period, and the dye remover should be washed out as soon as this reaction begins to slow down. You will need to shampoo your hair with clarifying shampoo a few times to ensure you've removed as much of the reduced color as possible, because any color that is left can be oxidized again in air and darken back up. After two shampoos, this oxidation is negligible because you can be fairly sure you've removed the majority of the reduced dye.
After removing color with dye remover, the worst case scenario is that you are lighter than before and the dye remover hasn't removed all of the hair dye. The best case scenario is that all of the hair dye has been removed and you have returned to the lightest color you have previously been. Either way, because dye remover doesn't damage your hair, any removal is good and will enable bleach or other methods to work more effectively and in less time, thus cutting down the damage from bleaching.
Like with bleach, when you remove dark hair dye with color remover, you can notice warm tones appearing. These should be toned to reach the desired shade and finish the removal process. The toner used for this should be at least 2 levels lighter because it will produce a darker result on hair that has been stripped with a remover.
- How to Remove Black Hair Dye
If you've dyed your hair a dark color, it can seem almost impossible to remove. Find out how to remove black hair dye and return to a lighter shade...
- How to Bleach Hair
Do you dream of blonde hair? If you have dark hair, you need to use bleach, and bleach needs to be used properly. Learn the tricks of the trade for stunning results.
- How to take care of dyed hair
Dyed hair needs specialized care to keep it looking and feeling its best. Find out how to take care of dyed hair and maintain your new color.
Dyeing your hair darker
If the color you're trying to remove is blonde, you can't remove it technically because you arrived at the color by removing the natural pigment from your hair. In order to reverse hair lightening, your only option is to dye over it with a darker dye. This is easy and consists of applying the desired shade over your hair and allowing it to process.
Hair is often porous after lightening, and this needs to be taken into account to avoid your color turning out darker than expected. If you use a shade that is 1 - 2 levels lighter than your desired shade, you can avoid this problem.
Another problem to watch out for is dyeing over pale or ashy blondes with an ash brown or black shade. Because your blonde hair is devoid of copper and red pigment, you could end up with an unexpected result like green hair. To avoid this problem, fill your hair using a protein filler or demi-permanent dye prior to dyeing it darker.
Oftentimes, the best method to remove hair dye is a combination of many of these techniques. In all cases, you should wait for the dye to fade as much as possible, and then color remover can be used to strip out as much dye as possible before resorting to bleach. Taking the less damaging method that will still give you the results you seek, will keep your hair looking and feeling healthy. Feeling great about your hair is the most important thing.
Do you have a problematic hair color you're trying to remove or have just been through a hair dye removal ordeal? Leave a comment for tailored advice...
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.