Is There a Way to Undye Your Hair?

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Key Takeaways

  • Yes, there are several methods to remove or fade hair dye, such as clarifying shampoos, baking soda, vinegar, vitamin C, and hydrogen peroxide.
  • These techniques work best on semi-permanent or demi-permanent dyes, not permanent dyes or bleached hair.
  • Using a clarifying or anti-dandruff shampoo can help strip dye from hair quickly.
  • Making a paste with baking soda and water and applying it to hair helps lift dye.
  • A vinegar rinse helps remove dye deposits from hair over time.
  • Crushing vitamin C tablets into shampoo helps fade color fast.
  • Hydrogen peroxide and water can remove all dye, but can damage hair if overused.
  • It’s ideal to use these techniques immediately after dyeing for best results.
  • For permanent dyes or bleached hair, it’s best to consult a professional hair stylist for safe color removal.


Have you ever dyed your hair a bold, vibrant shade only to decide shortly after that you want to go back to your natural color? Or maybe you got highlights that turned out brassy and unflattering? We’ve all been there. As fun and transforms your look. However, hair dye isn’t permanent. There are ways to remove hair color when you’ve had a change of heart.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through several methods and techniques for safely removing or fading hair dye at home. We’ll cover which products work best, how to use them properly, and what to expect from each process. You’ll also learn the differences between semi-permanent, demi-permanent, and permanent dyes so you can select the best removal strategy.

By the end, you’ll understand the most effective DIY ways to get dye out of your hair without causing damage. While professional color removal is ideal for some situations, you can strip a significant amount of color with simple ingredients from your kitchen. With some effort and patience, you can undo your new hair hue.

How Does Hair Dye Work?

Before learning how to remove dye, it helps to understand how it works in the first place. Hair dye contains coloring agents that undergo a chemical reaction when the product is mixed and applied to hair. This reaction allows the small dye molecules to bind to the hair strand within the cortex, the innermost layer of the hair shaft.

Is There a Way to Undye Your Hair?

There are two major types of hair dye:

Temporary dye – This coats the outside of the hair shaft but does not penetrate it. The color washes out after one shampoo.

Permanent dye – This permanently alters the structure of the hair by oxidizing its melanin. The result lasts until the hair grows out or falls out.

In between these two categories are semi-permanent and demi-permanent dyes. While not completely permanent, they can last 4-6 weeks and 15-20 washes before fading.

What Factors Determine How Long Hair Dye Lasts?

The longevity of hair dye depends on several factors:

  • Type of dye – Permanent dyes lasts the longest, followed by demi-permanent and semi-permanent. Temporary rinses out quickly.
  • Your hair’s condition – Healthy, undamaged hair holds onto dye better than dry or damaged strands.
  • Hair’s porosity – Porous hair absorbs more dye and keeps the color longer than hair with tight, closed cuticles.
  • Frequency of washing – Frequent shampooing fades dye faster.
  • Sun exposure – The sun’s UV rays break down hair dye molecules over time.
  • Use of hot tools – Heat from blow dryers, curling irons, etc. accelerates fading.
  • Hair products – Harsh cleansers and products with sulfates strip color quicker.

By understanding these factors, you can take steps either to make the color last longer or to intentionally speed up fading if you want to go back to your natural shade.

Is All Hair Dye Permanent?

No, while permanent dye does chemically alter the hair for extremely long-lasting color, there are other dye types that don’t permanently change the hair structure.

Semi-permanent dye coats the hair shaft and lasts through 4-6 shampoos before washing out. It does not use any chemical reactants.

Demi-permanent dye penetrates the hair a bit deeper than semi-permanent but is still not permanent. It washes out after 15-20 shampoos.

Temporary dye just coats the hair and rinses out after one shampoo.

So if you used a semi-, demi-, or temporary formula, the color is not fixed permanently in your hair. This makes it easier to remove with the techniques we’ll discuss next. However, permanent dyes cannot be completely removed except by growing out the hair.

How Can I Remove Semi- or Demi-Permanent Hair Dye at Home?

If you used a semi-, demi-, or temporary dye, several home remedies and techniques can help remove or fade it faster:

Is There a Way to Undye Your Hair?

Clarifying or Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

These shampoos contain stronger detergents and sulfates than regular shampoos. They can act as mild stripping agents to lift dye from the hair, especially with repeated use. Look for brands like Neutrogena or Head & Shoulders.

Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda is mildly abrasive and alkaline, which helps break down dye molecules. Make a paste with equal parts baking soda and water. Massage it into damp hair, allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Repeat this 2-3 times per week.

Vinegar Rinse

White vinegar is acidic, which counteracts and removes the alkaline dyes from your hair. Mix 1 part vinegar with 2-4 parts water. Apply it to damp hair. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing. Do this 1-2 times per week.

Vitamin C Treatment

Crush 5-10 vitamin C tablets and mix the powder into your regular shampoo. The vitamin C works to oxidize and reduce the dye pigments. Apply the shampoo to wet hair and leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing as usual. Repeat 2-3 times per week.

Hydrogen Peroxide and Hot Water

This combo strips dye by oxidizing it rapidly. Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and hot water in a spray bottle. Mist it evenly onto damp hair and allow it to sit for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with cool water. Shampoo and condition well after. Use this maximum once per week as it can dry out hair.

How Long Does It Take to Remove Hair Dye with These Home Remedies?

Removing semi- or demi-permanent hair dye with home ingredients takes consistency and patience over time. You likely won’t see dramatic results after just one treatment. However, with repeated applications, you should notice the color fading gradually each week.

Most people begin to see a noticeable difference in their dye color after:

  • 1-2 weeks of the baking soda or vitamin C treatments
  • 2-3 weeks of doing vinegar rinses
  • 3-4 weeks of using clarifying shampoos

The hydrogen peroxide and hot water method yields the fastest results, showing significant fading after just 1-2 applications. However, this is a harsher process that should only be used occasionally.

Stick with a method for at least 2-3 weeks before assessing if you want to try a different technique or professional removal. Removing dye quickly takes some diligence, but you can get back to your natural shade with these inexpensive do-it-yourself strategies.

What’s the Best Method for Removing Permanent Hair Dye?

Unfortunately, truly permanent dyes cannot be completely removed at home. Permanent color makes a lasting chemical change to the hair strands.

To safely get rid of permanent dye, your best option is to see a professional hair colorist for a color removal service. This will minimize damage to your locks.

Salon processes like color stripping, bleaching, or dyeing over permanent color require expertise for proper application and timing. Improper removal of permanent dyes at home can cause major breakage and dryness.

However, if your heart is set on removing permanent color yourself, you can try the following safer options, keeping in mind they may not fully remove the dye:

Is There a Way to Undye Your Hair?
  • Use a color-remover chemical kit containing reducing agents that shrink dye molecules. Follow the instructions carefully.
  • Make a remover solution by mixing 1 TBSP baking soda, 1 TBSP dish soap, and 10oz hot water. Apply it, lather thoroughly, and let sit 5-10 minutes before rinsing well.
  • Bleach bath – Mix 1 part powder lightener with 2 parts developer and dilute with shampoo. Apply cautiously only to the most faded sections of hair first to test sensitivity.
  • Purchase an anti-dye shampoo made for permanent color removal and use it 2-3 times per week.

However, be extremely cautious about applying any bleach or high-lift color yourself if you don’t have professional training. Damaging permanent dyes can result in a chemical reaction that leaves the hair melted or split.

Can Hair Dye Be Removed Professionally? How Does It Work?

Absolutely – professional hair colorists have access to stronger products that can safely strip permanent dyes. Here are some of the most common salon techniques:

Color Removal Treatment

This uses a specially formulated remover solution. It contains reducing agents that shrink and dissolve the permanent dye molecules so they can be rinsed away. The solution may need to be applied twice to fully remove stubborn color.


Lightener and developer lift your base shade so new dye can adhere evenly. It’s a gradual process, going 1-2 shades lighter at a time to prevent breakage. Toner may be applied after to cancel out brassiness.

Colorful Hair Dye

Bold, vibrant dyes in shades like eggplant, navy, or magenta can override and camouflage the previous dye. However, this won’t work with natural-looking hues.


This professional-grade system contains a patented active ingredient called bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate that re-links broken bonds in the hair. Using Olaplex during the color removal process reduces the risk of damage.

Salon removal uses professional-strength lighteners, toners, and dyes not available at most retailers. Stylists also have advanced training on the proper application techniques and timing to avoid chemical reactions that could ruin your hair.

What Precautions Should I Take When Removing Hair Dye?

  • Always do a patch test before any new method to check for allergic reaction.
  • Strand tests are wise before using hydrogen peroxide, vitamin C, or bleach to gauge sensitivity.
  • Don’t overdo any method – moderation is key to prevent excessive drying.
  • Deep condition weekly to restore moisture and smooth the hair cuticle.
  • Avoid other chemical processes while removing dye – no perming, relaxing or permanent coloring on top.
  • Never mix household cleaners like bleach – this creates toxic fumes.
  • Don’t wash with extremely hot water, and always shampoo with lukewarm or cool water.
  • Use a leave-in treatment or serum containing keratin to protect strands.
  • Get regular trims to snip away damaged ends and keep hair healthy.

What Results Should I Expect From DIY Hair Dye Removal?

Removing dye at home can only get you so far, especially with permanent color. Here are reasonable expectations:

  • You’ll likely still see some residual dye hue rather than 100% removal.
  • Lightening or fading by a few shades is reasonable, but not dramatic brightening.
  • Dye likely won’t budge from mid-lengths and ends due to previous exposure and porosity. Focus on roots.
  • Some undertones like red and blue are extremely stubborn to remove.
  • If hair is over-processed, methods may not work and cause more damage.
  • Results take patience – you won’t see your natural shade overnight.

DIY removal works best for blending away demi-permanent roots or toning down color that is too intense. But for complete dye eradication or lighter hair than your natural level, see a stylist.

FAQ About Reversing Hair Dye:

Does vitamin C really remove hair dye?

Yes, vitamin C works to oxidize the chemical compounds in hair dye, shrinking the color molecules so they are released from the hair shaft. concentrate has the highest potency.

What removes semi permanent hair dye fastest?

Bleaching with hydrogen peroxide lifts semi-permanent dye the quickest, but can cause damage if overused. For a gentler option, try vitamin C treatments twice a week. They safely oxidize and dissolve semi-permanent color after a few consistent applications.

Does baking soda and anti dandruff shampoo remove hair dye?

Yes, this combo can help strip dye over time. The baking soda lifts color while the zinc in anti-dandruff shampoos acts as a clarifying agent. Lather the mixture on damp hair and let sit 5-10 minutes once a week. Rinse thoroughly and deep condition after.

Can I remove hair dye without bleaching?

Absolutely. For semi-permanent color, vitamin C, clarifying shampoos, and baking soda pastes remove dye without bleach. For permanent dye, try color remover kits or an anti-dye shampoo designed for coloring hair back to natural. While bleaching speeds up removal, it causes more damage.

How long does it take to remove black hair dye naturally?

Removing dark permanent dyes like black, brown, or navy at home takes significant time and effort. After consistently using color-fading shampoos and treatments like vitamin C or baking soda for 1-2 months, you may see 2-3 shades of lightening. But full reversal to your natural shade without professional bleaching could take 6 months or longer. Be patient and gradual with the process.

The Takeaway on Reversing Hair Dye

It is possible to remove hair color you don’t like, but how long it takes and the final results depend on the original dye type and formula. Professional removal is best for permanent dyes or making a major shade change – the products are stronger and the processes gentler than DIY methods.

For semi-permanent colors, you can lift and fade dye at home with ingredients like vitamin C, baking soda, vinegar, and clarifying shampoos. Just be consistent with applying them 1-2 times per week and give it 4-6 weeks to see significant fading. Avoid overuse of harsh chemicals like bleach or hydrogen peroxide.

Now that you know how to safely reverse your hair color mishaps, you can experiment with different fun shades. Just remember you can go back to your natural hue if you ever have a change of heart. So explore bold hair colors fearlessly knowing you have dye removal options.

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