How to Remove (Some) Hair Color At Home

Sable Yong


There’s nothing worse than shelling out half your paycheck (or more) to a hair colorist to get that fierce and fiery hair color just like Hayley Williams or Taylor Swift in her new “Bad Blood” video, and ending up looking a bit more like Ronald McDonald. Worse, if you’ve done it yourself and went a bit manic with the Manic Panic. Well, refrain from going full-on panic because you may remember, hair dye fades. Yes, even the colors you DO want to keep. There are, however, a few things you can do to expedite that process and get your hair color looking a bit more in the direction you were going for—or at least away from the direction it’s gone.

MORE: Worst At-Home Hair Coloring Mistakes

If You Got a Professional Color Job… Definitely go back to the salon and let your colorist know it’s not working for you. It can be awkward because sometimes salon lighting is much more flattering or misleading than natural daylight or common indoor lighting. But if you aren’t happy with the color, it’s in your colorist’s best interest to have their clients be happy and recommend them. They can most likely offer to tone your color more towards what you were going for or deposit more color to deepen or change the hue. Bleaching color-treated hair can be risky since you’re damaging your hair that’s already been chemically-treated recently.

Use Dish Soap… Color that’s been deposited onto your hair is its most fragile right after it has been applied to your hair. Using a detergent that is meant to get tough grease out—like dish soap—works well to remove any color that can’t hold on. If you color your hair and immediately hate it, an immediate shampoo with some dish soap will strip a lot of the color away.

Try Some Vitamin C… A popular DIY method to strip hair color of the semi-permanent kind is to add a crushed up tablet of vitamin C or L-Ascorbic Acid and mix it with some clarifying shampoo. Lather up and let your hair sit in this “stripping mask” under a shower cap for about 20 minutes. Massage it all over the colored parts of your hair and rinse out, and it’ll take a lot of the color with it. You can do this too if you’re ready to swap your hair color from one semi-permanent hair dye like Manic Panic to another.

Both methods above that require some serious lathering will dry your hair out quite a bit, so make sure to be nice to your hair afterwards with a nourishing and hydrating hair mask. Hair dye sticks more to porous hair because your hair craves something to fill in the spaces in the hair shaft. Conditioning with a protein filler may help your hair regain some of its broken protein bonds and make it easier to let go of color deposits.
You can repeat the washes if you want more color gone, but use your judgement, and if the water keeps running clear, it’s a sign that whatever dye is still clinging to your hair is going to stick around unless you use stronger chemicals to tone or bleach it out. In which case, see #1.

MORE: Your Guide To Finding The Best At-Home Hair Color