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Removing Hair Dye Safely & Cheaply

10 March 2012

Ever desperately want to switch from one colour to another that will not dye well over each other? Already fried your hair and can’t afford more damage or just looking to avoid it in the first place? Try the following method described to me by a long-time stylist, with some minor tweaks by me, to fade your dye fast without damage.

You will need:

  • Cheap clarifying shampoo that is non-colour safe (like Suave Daily Clarifying)
  • Non-colour safe conditioner (I used a Suave Naturals conditioner)
  • Plastic shower cap or shopping bag
  • A sink you don’t mind staining or bleaching when you’re done
  • A bath towel
  • Hair clip(s) if you have hair long enough to put up

Wet your hair thoroughly with water as warm as you can stand (this will open the hair cuticle) and lather up with the cheap shampoo. Scrub the crap out of your hair! Squeeze off excess foam (which you’ll notice is taking on the colour of your dye) and coat your hair thoroughly with the cheap shampoo – don’t rinse. If it’s long enough, put it up in a clip or two. Wrap the towel around your shoulders as your hair will run, and the water will be filled with dye. Put on the shower cap or plastic shopping bag (I used the latter, wrapping it tightly in the front and securing with a small clip). Heat your head evenly with a hair dryer, being careful not to melt the plastic. Let sit for 15-20 minutes, then rinse hair thoroughly. Lather and rinse twice more with very warm water. By now you should be noticing the suds have only a light tinge of your colour in them.


Saturate your head with the cheap conditioner. If you tend to have very dry or unmanageable hair use a more expensive conditioner – it will not strip out as much colour but it will do a better job of moisturizing and protecting your hair. Put up in a clip if your hair is long enough. Heat your hair thoroughly with a hair dryer and let sit for 25-30 minutes. Rinse with cool water. Give your hair a final blast of water as cold as you can stand it to close the cuticle. This helps protect hair from nutrient loss and makes it more smooth and shiny. The cheap conditioner will help draw out more colour and will help replace things the shampoo stripped out of your hair.

After following the above just once I noticed the colour in my hair reduced by 2/3. Some of it was almost blond again (my hair is dark, so I bleach before putting on colour). My hair was also very soft and voluminous. I am told this is safe to do several times, so long as you give your hair a day or two in between applications.

Comments

  • Thanks! Would this only work for dyes like Manic Panic, Directions, etc. or would it also work for permanent dyes like Schwarzkopf? Report Comment
  • it might do a little bit for the permanant dye but it wouldn't remove it completely, you'd need a colour stripper and/or bleach for that. any thoughts on blow-drying the conditioner to completely dry and then brushing the hair so it's not all clumpy? Report Comment
  • This sounds like a really good way to get color out, thanks for the article! Report Comment
  • That totaly works great. I just did it, to wash out my red and it is like doing three weeks of "washing-out" with one step. I used a bit Vit-C-powder for the shampoo too and mixed Directions White Toner with the conditioner. Report Comment
  • I just tried this on a permanent Schwarzkopf dye. It removed quite a bit of colour. My hair was some kind of deep orange now it's bright orange in some places even strawberry blonde! THANKS! <3 Report Comment
  • Would dandruff shampoo work Report Comment
  • Thanks, it actually worked (on unbleached hair, though) :D Report Comment
  • Yay! I'm happy to hear this worked out so well for everyone. I hadn't checked back in since the article was posted. I'm sure dandruff shampoo would fade it as well, especially since that can be even more harsh on color treated hair. Depending on the active ingredients though it could just change the color and lighten it, versus really removing it. You could always do the regular shampoo cap, then wash with the dandruff shampoo if you need it (which lots of folks do) and then do the conditioner soak. Report Comment
  • The cheaper and more generic the dandruff shampoo the better. Report Comment
  • I will totally try this cause I want to change my colour and I don´t get red out as much as I want to and I don´t want to bleach it all over cause I think that would do too much damage. But this is a really good way to get rid of the colour thanks for sharing. :) Report Comment
  • Okay, so I dyed my hair with SFX atomic pink. My hair was previously black, so I bleached it, but i didn't have enough bleach so my hair turned out orange and the dye turned a really deep reddish pink. About 2 1/2 to 3 months later the dye hadn't faded at all, and I had about 1 inch, or longer in some places. I decided to put really light blonde hair dye on it, hoping to get most of the pink out so I could dye it over, but instead it turned my roots really light yellow blonde, and the pink was only lightened slightly. it just turned brighter, so now i'm trying to lighten the color on my bangs, as I want to dye them bright orange. I tried this, and it still hasn't lightened them at all. I love the color, but how do I get it out! XD Report Comment
  • This worked so well for me! My hair is dyed red, and if you've seen any of my recent posts, you will see that I'm basically begging my hair to fade so I can bleach it! I dyed my hair MP Vampire Red not too long ago, and knowing me, I got way sick of my hair quite fast. I swear I've shampooed my hair over thirty times just trying to fade it. Leaving the shampoo on for thirty minutes was really what got my hair to fade as if it had been there for weeks. I did a strand test (bleach), but it turned this nasty pinky color before I started this process. I will make sure to do this until my hair is faded enough. Thank you! Report Comment
  • would this work for xxl ultra violet colour, the colours been in my hair for a few months will it still come out? Report Comment
  • Wow it worked really well even with my permanent haircolor, it took most of the bright red out of my hair, after that's was able to bleach and got some locks even blue! Wish I had known this 10 years ago, when I had to bleach all the color out of my hair to change color which I did every month or so.....you can guess that my hair got shorter and shorter....... Report Comment
  • when I change colours in a couple of weeks, Im doing this after hanging my head in the pool for a few hours! Thanks heaps! <3 Report Comment
  • just tried this.. I forgot to heat hair while conditioning. The color is still here, I have a permanent red dye (faded) and many many months of semiperm red dye.. I guess I have to repeat a copule of times, it faded but still red! Report Comment
  • i have coloured my hair red (using wella) for the past few years. it just doesn't seem bright any more. if i do this and then put my wella red on will it go bright again ? Report Comment
  • So this past week, I used a "Strawberry Blonde" permanent dye for my hair. Well, I have some natural strawberry in my hair - although it doesn't really show. Suffice it to say, my hair turned out pale pink - not at all what I was looking for. Tried the above steps to the letter. OMG - I am actually LOVING the result! The pink is nearly gone and what is left blends with my blonde and looks pretty natural! AND I even got a compliment at work that my hair looked fabulous! Thanks so much, Moonqueen! One final thing: It was SUPER cheap - picked up the shampoo and conditioner at Walgreen's for a total of less than $2.20! Report Comment
  • I just tried this out on super damaged pink hair. The first thing I noticed is that it does not hurt my hair. I need a nice conditioner with it but other than that it works on damaged hair. I did have to do two treatments to get it light enough - and hopefully it is. I used V05 instead of Suave. My hair was almost a standard pink and now it is a very pale pastel color pink that I am hoping my natural color will dye right over. It is very cheap process and works great for lightening those unwanted colors. Report Comment
  • Awesome! I'm very excited, again, to hear how many people liked this method. I find it works better with some colors (and dye brands) than others but overall it has helped me avoid bleaching between many of my color shifts. The worst to get out for me was Manic Panic Atomic Turquoise and Electric Lizard. It was originally like this: http://haircrazy.info/timelines/moonqueen/2012/6/6/45223/ After two washings it only faded this much: http://haircrazy.info/timelines/moonqueen/2012/6/21/45224/ This is after 2 1/2 months (and basically not giving a fat darn how I treated my hair when I washed, because I was like "PLEASE JUST LEAVE ME!" to the green at this point). http://haircrazy.info/timelines/moonqueen/2012/8/29/29677/ Even after a shampoo cap, bleaching, dying it a bunch of cotton candy colros, then dying it AGAIN with a bunch of remnants of dye, you can still random streaks of green in it 6 months after the initial dying. http://haircrazy.info/timelines/moonqueen/2012/11/10/34100/ Blues, reds and their offshoots (pink, purple) fade great with this. I've found yellow based colors (orange, lime, any bright green) more difficult. Report Comment
  • Wow...that formatted very strangely....let's try that again... Awesome! I'm very excited, again, to hear how many people liked this method. I find it works better with some colors (and dye brands) than others but overall it has helped me avoid bleaching between many of my color shifts. The worst to get out for me was Manic Panic Atomic Turquoise and Electric Lizard. It was originally like this: http://haircrazy.info/timelines/moonqueen/2012/6/6/45223/ After two washings it only faded this much: http://haircrazy.info/timelines/moonqueen/2012/6/21/45224/ This is after 2 1/2 months (and basically not giving a fat darn how I treated my hair when I washed, because I was like "PLEASE JUST LEAVE ME!" to the green at this point). http://haircrazy.info/timelines/moonqueen/2012/8/29/29677/ Even after a shampoo cap, bleaching, dying it a bunch of cotton candy colros, then dying it AGAIN with a bunch of remnants of dye, you can still random streaks of green in it 6 months after the initial dying. http://haircrazy.info/timelines/moonqueen/2012/11/10/34100/ Blues, reds and their offshoots (pink, purple) fade great with this. I've found yellow based colors (orange, lime, any bright green) more difficult. Report Comment
  • Nope. Okay, apparently comments need to be done with scripts still, lol. Report Comment
  • How soon after doing this can u put the color back in Report Comment
  • So I'd already been using dandruff shampoo and baking soda but I was having problems with some of the build up being very stubborn so I tried just the shampoo part of this to see if it would work. I look at my hair today and it's actually taken some of my ends back to blonde. So I'm going to try doing it a few more times and hopefully get my hair to a point where I don't have to use too much bleach. Report Comment
  • Ah I'm going to give this a go, I had a dark purple in and I want to put in a bright vibrant purple now but I've been struggling to strip the colour out and because my hair is dry at the best of times I'm reluctant to chuck more bleach on it. Thanks heaps for this! Report Comment

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