Hair Color Remover

When hair color disaster strikes, the right hair color remover can help. Whether it's an ill-fated salon visit or attempt at home coloring your own hair, removing hair dye will usually set things right. But to remove hair color successfully, you must know which product is best for you. Factors to consider are:

  • What kind of dye was used? Temporary, semi, demi, permanent or henna?
  • Is hair too dark or too light?
  • Does hair have both artificial and natural re-growth color?

How Hair Color Remover Works

To understand how a hair color remover works, it helps to know basic hair anatomy and how various types of hair dyes color hair differently. A single hair has three concentric rings:

  1. Cuticle: a thin, translucent outer layer composed of many small pieces overlapping each other, like shingles on a roof;
  2. Cortex: the middle layer that forms the main body of hair shaft. It contains melanin, the pigment molecules responsible for your hair color;
  3. Medulla: the innermost clear layer that influences thickness of hair.

Temporary and semi-permanent hair dyes simply coat the outer cuticle with small color molecules. These typically wash off after 6-12 shampoos, and do not affect natural pigments in the middle cortex.

Permanent dyes contain varying amounts of peroxide or other bleaching agents that penetrate the outer cuticle. These chemicals enter the middle cortex, lifting out natural pigments and replacing them with dye color molecules. The dye color molecules are long-chained chemicals that can't pass through the outer cuticle and so never wash out.

Demi-permanents fall in-between...they work mostly like a semi-permanent dye but contain just enough peroxide to partially penetrate the cuticle. The difference is the color molecules deposited in the middle cortex are short-chained chemicals. They can pass through the outer cuticle so color eventually washes out after 18-24 shampoos.

When removing henna, don't use a chemical hair color remover. Instead, shampoo frequently to fade color and wait for hair to grow out. I A colorist told me the following henna hair color removal tip. Plain yoghurt is a natural hair dye remover that lightens henna when applied to dry hair for an hour.

Types of Hair Color Removers


If you used a temporary, semi or demi-permanent hair color, try an abrasive hair color remover first. These products accelerate the fading process and are less harsh than commercial chemical removers. Buy a strong anti-dandruff shampoo such as Head & Shoulders or Prell and use several times to strip color molecules from the cuticle layer.

An effective home hair color remover can be made from common household ingredients. Baking soda mixed with equal parts shampoo and applied as a paste will help remove color from hair by fading it. Simply wet hair with hot water first and massage paste into hair for five minutes or so. This works especially well when removing dark hair color. Be sure to followup with a moisturizing conditioner. Here's some more tips on how to remove hair color with common household products.


To remove permanent hair color use an oxidative product which is formulated specifically for this purpose. It will penetrate into the middle cortex and shrink color molecules. The smaller molecules can then pass through the cuticle and wash out. Some oxidative products specifically target only artificial color derived from permanent dyes. They won't remove any natural color that's visible on new hair re-growth. Check out these three popular, highly rated products formulated to remove permanent dye.  Other oxidative products are designed to remove both artificial and natural color. These products make re-coloring easier because they remove color equally from both artificial and natural colored hair. Also read a Color Oops review to understand why users like this color removal product so much.

Will vinegar remove permanent hair color? Who knows where this rumour started, but the answer is no. The best permanent hair color remover tips are to act quickly and ask for advice. Contact your salon to fix the problem at no charge if they're responsible, or call the 1-800 help number for the specific hair color product you used at home.


Bleaching is sometimes recommended to lighten hair that's too dark. But be careful. Bleach (formulated specifically for hair, never household!) can damage the cuticle, making hair weak and porous. Bleach damaged hair breaks easily and causes color to absorb unevenly. Bleach lightens natural hair pigments more quickly than artificial hair pigments, so you may end up with uneven color banding. If you colored your hair with an inexpensive drugstore brand that contains metallic salts, adding bleach to it could severely damage your hair.

I don't recommend bleaching your hair with any do-it-yourself brand. The risks are too great for the small amount of savings. See a salon specialist who can bleach hair correctly if necessary.

Tips To Remove Hair Coloring

  • Color removal should be done within 3 days of hair coloring, before dye sets. The earlier the better.
  • Apply conditioner after using color removal. Avoid other hair treatments for at least 3 days.
  • Don't use chemical hair color removal products on hair treated with henna.
  • If removing color at home, use hottest water you can comfortably manage. Hot water encourages color loss while cold water seals the cuticles and retains color.
  • Here's some great tips on how to remove hair coloring stains from skin, clothes and bathroom surfaces using common household items.

Hair color removal remedies have the potential to damage hair so be careful. First try less risky methods at home using common household ingredients if possible before resorting to commercial products. That said, retail products applied correctly at home or in the salon can work miracles. Whenever in doubt about removing hair color it's always best to visit your professional hair colorist.

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