Ask The Experts: How To Safely Remove Hair Color At Home

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Written by Sophie Mara

Updated: April 29, 2024

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image via @georgia_bess

Whatever your reasons for wanting to remove your hair dye at home, we have plenty of solutions for achieving color-free locks safely and simply.

Some of the methods on our list take time, you’ll need to work on your hair to achieve the dye-free look you want. Others are quicker, and get faster results, but require a trip to the drug store for supplies before you start.

Whichever method you choose, you can rest assured that the color of your hair is reversible and the color you truly want is still within reach. 

At Home Hair Dye Stripping Kits

You’ve picked out the color, you’ve booked the salon appointment, and your hair is finally dyed. Or, you went all in on a box dye in a moment of impulsiveness! Either way, you hate the color and want it gone as soon as possible. 

You’ve probably already started researching at-home hair color stripping kits. The question is, do they actually work?

We hate to be ambiguous, especially when the stakes are so high, but the answer is… yes and no. No, these kits won’t fully remove the dye and restore your hair to its natural color. Yes, it can help you to achieve the color you originally wanted. Here’s how.

The first thing to know is, the stories you’ve heard are true. Taking dye removal into your own hands can turn your hair orange. However, that usually means you’re doing something right.

As the chemicals in the remover solution start to work their magic, they will lift and reveal the underlying pigment, which is a red/orange shade. At this stage, you will need to re-color your hair to the desired shade.

Use a Clarifying or Anti-Dandruff Shampoo 

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image via @pinklablonde

Does anti-dandruff shampoo strip hair dye from the very first wash? You bet it does. But how?

Most anti-dandruff shampoos and conditioners contain zinc pyrithione. This active ingredient is great for fighting dandruff and giving you a healthy, flake-free scalp.

However, it’s also rather unkind to hair dye and will begin to strip and fade color as it’s massaged into the hair. Bad news for those unaware of its effects and looking to keep their color intact. Great news for you next time you want to rid your hair of a particular shade! 

Will a clarifying shampoo remove color too? Yes, but slower and more gently.

Clarifying shampoos are designed to rid your hair of product buildup and any other nasties wreaking havoc on your locks. So it makes sense that the ingredients would also have an effect on the dye in your hair. Therefore, this is great for those who may be looking to go a shade lighter rather than stripping their dye altogether.

That said, if you keep washing your hair with clarifying formulas on wash day, over time, you will see the color fade more quickly than with a color-safe shampoo. 

Rinse Your Hair With Apple Cider Vinegar

While apple cider vinegar won’t completely remove your hair color, it can help to lighten the shade gradually. For this method, mix equal parts vinegar and water in a plastic jug or a spray bottle. Pour or spritz it over your hair after shampooing, massage it in, then simply rinse it out. 

Our advice? Don’t be tempted to douse your hair with concentrated apple cider vinegar for faster results. This can strip your hair of all moisture leaving it dry beyond repair. Not to mention, it may leave an unpleasant scent behind in your locks. 

Apply A Baking Soda Paste For Hair Dye Removal

Need a super gentle, not to mention affordable, way to lighten/remove your hair color at home? We recommend mixing a simple paste of baking soda and water.

Add your baking soda to a plastic bowl and slowly pour in the water, stirring as you go. You’re looking to create a paste rather than a liquid, so aim for a smooth consistency but not one that will drip when applied. 

Once you’ve mixed enough to cover all of your hair, use lukewarm water to dampen your hair. This will prevent the hair from completely drying out once the powdery paste is applied.

Next, start to smooth the paste through the hair from root to tip. Be sure to use it all over for an even dye fade, if you skip parts the dye will remain where it is. Massage it gently into your hair, then leave it to rest for five minutes.

Gently rinse all of the baking soda out of your hair, again with lukewarm water so as not to further aggravate your delicate tresses. We recommend going in with a conditioning treatment right after to replenish the moisture loss from the baking soda application. 

You can also try this method with powdered vitamin C which has anti-oxidising effects. Mix the powder with water, apply the paste to your hair, then leave it on under a shower cap for 45 minutes and rinse clean.

Pro tip: if you really want to accelerate the effects of the baking soda, try mixing it with anti-dandruff shampoo for a thicker lather that strips even quicker. Just be sure to do this only once and treat your hair to a highly nourishing hair mask afterward! 

How To Care For Your Hair Before & After Removing The Color

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image via @elenapostolachi

Before going ahead and stripping your hair color by any means possible, consider the health of your hair and whether it can take the treatment you plan to carry out.

Bleached hair that’s been further damaged by the coloring process can quickly weaken and start to break and split if the stripping process isn’t gentle enough. Additionally, if your hair is on the finer side and requires a diligent hair care routine to look its best, maybe go for one of the softer, slower removal techniques on our list.

Whatever you decide, it’s always good to consult with a professional first. If you have the opportunity, speak to your stylist for their recommendation before you dive into the process. 

Once you’ve removed the dye from your hair, it’s likely going to be dryer than usual no matter how you did it. To counteract that, make sure to give your hair all the extra nourishment it needs to stay healthy over the coming weeks. Gentle shampoo sessions with plenty of scalp massages, deep conditioning treatments, and oil-infused hair masks should do the trick!

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