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How to remove color from hair?

How to strip color out of hair at home without damage?

It is hard to explain how to strip hair color without understanding what color we are speaking about and why you want it to be removed. Is it darker or lighter than you expected? Is it too vibrant/dull/warm/cold/whatever? To get the question properly covered, I need to know your hair color history and the type of dye used. And as I have no specific information, I’ll try to outline all your options in general.

How to Remove Permanent Hair Dye

Permanent color is the toughest nut to crack since it’s meant to lift up the hair cuticle and deposit a new color instead of the existing pigment. Luckily, we have color removers created specifically to ruin bonds between the permanent color molecules. This allows washing the artificial pigment out of hair (literally), though the removers cannot restore your natural/previous shade to the full. Some of them are stronger than others at the expense of ammonia, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide, but this will certainly come at a price.

How to Remove Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Semi-permanent, demi-permanent, or temporary colors are not that sticky, as they cover only the surface of the hair or the uppermost layer of the cuticle without penetrating deeply into its core. So, you can fix the problem by washing your locks with a clarifying shampoo, since these products are designed with an enhanced formula to remove heavy build-up. However, you need to act quickly, i.e. wash out the hair dye immediately after your mistake is revealed. And I hate to say it, but the chances are that the product will strip no more than 70% of the color.

How to Fade Hair

If your color turned out to be too dark or bright, you can try and fade it a bit with the help of your regular/anti-dandruff shampoo or even soap. Choose a product that is higher in sulfates and wash out the hair color with hot water. You can do it several times in a row (say, 3-4), but don’t go over the top – keep in mind that wet tresses tend to look darker than they actually are. Besides, you may end up with unwanted tones peeping out, so taking baby steps is the best way to land where you want. If your dye your hair very often, are bored with your hair color and want to fade it without damage, be ready to get the final result only in several months.

How to Lighten Dyed Hair

If you need to lighten dark hair, you can take a shot at the same natural lighteners that are often used to make a homemade hair dye. While you may find lemon juice, vinegar, and honey among the most cited ingredients for a homemade hair dye remover, I would recommend using vitamin C to lighten hair naturally. This method really works, as the vitamin is used in salons for the same purpose – to lift color. Besides, you can find pretty much before and after photos on the Web to confirm its effectiveness for black and dark brown hair. So, crash a dozen vitamin C tablets into powder, mix it with clarifying shampoo, massage into your locks, put a shower cap on, and let it work for 30-60 minutes.

How to Remove Black Hair Dye

Many girls swear by baking soda, adding it into shampoo or even dish soap to boost the color-stripping benefits. Since baking soda provides an exfoliating effect, it has the power to work as a hair color remover when combined with some other remedy. But black pigment is rather stubborn to get rid of, so you may need something more powerful to remove a hair dye too dark for you. Try to apply 10 or 20 volume developer blended with baking soda – start from your ends and then work your way up, put on a shower cap, and turn on a hairdryer. When you warm up your hair, turn the hairdryer off and wait for half an hour before going to the shower. It’s a fast way to fix the problem, though definitely not hair-friendly. So, if you want to remove black hair dye, better book your hair colorist.

How to Remove Red Hair Dye

Actually, any bad hair color in red shades can be removed with the above-mentioned methods, from a professional hair color stripper to a DIY mixture, depending on whether it’s permanent or temporary. But if you want to transition from a red-head to a blonde in one day, you cannot do without bleach. But the least damaging way would be starting with shampooing, then moving to a hair dye remover, and then ending with bleaching and toning – all extended over days and alternated with hair treatments.

How to Get Toner Out of Hair

It’s definitely the easiest issue to tackle since toners are made to cover only the outer cuticle layer and to wash out quickly. So, the answer is obvious – wash, wash, and wash. Just choose a proper color stripping shampoo enriched with useful ingredients to help your locks recover after harsh cleaning. But if you are a cool girl who isn’t afraid of damaging your hair, you are free to resort to dish soap washing followed by a lemon juice rinse.

How to Remove Hair Toner Gone Bad
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How to Remove Green and Red Tones from Hair

A brassy tone can be the result of either amateur experiments with box dye colors or your attempts to get these colors out of your hair. In both cases, you will need a color-correction product with purple (for yellow) or blue (for orange) pigments to counteract the nasty red tint. As for red and green colors, they are mutually neutralizing, and this is the reason women sometimes even apply ketchup on their greenish locks if they don’t have professional products at hand. In addition to red tomatoes, ketchup contains vinegar, which acidic nature also works towards stripping the color out of your tresses.

Removing Hair Color to Go Gray

When aging, our hair becomes more and more vulnerable, and this means that you are likely to choose the most non-damaging method to transition to your natural gray. Professional cleaning shampoos and hair removers would be the best choice for transforming your mane at home, but it’s even better to have a consultation with a hairdresser beforehand. Sometimes, getting highlights or going blonde is a more painless option.

Best Professional Hair Color Removers

If “best” means less damaging in this case, then choose products containing no ammonia or bleach to save your hair from trouble. Look for moisturizing and strengthening ingredients like aloe vera, soy protein, keratin, natural oils, and so forth. Make sure to read if a product is labeled as suitable for your type of dye – otherwise, it simply won’t work.

Additional tips when using hair color removers:

– apply the remover to your ends first, as the color strips out of them slower;

– saturate the product evenly throughout your hair;

– do a hydrating hair mask afterwards.

Now you have a basic understanding of how to get color out of hair, but I still recommend consulting with a pro, as there are too many factors to take into account. Leave your questions and share your experience (both positive and negative) of stripping hair color at home/at a hair salon below.

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by Donna Sullivan
Donna is a hairstylist with 8 years of experience. Ask her about any hair-related problem (haircuts, hairstyles, colorings, hair care) and get a pro advice!