Before Process and After of a Hair Dye Removal From a Long Wavy Hair

So, you decide that your current hair color does not fit your mood and you feel like it is time for a change.

In that case, you should know how to strip color from hair without seriously damaging it.

The following will teach you how to remove your current hair color entirely or just make it lighter by a shade or two, regardless of your hair type.

Color Stripping vs. Bleaching

If you plan to strip color from your hair because you want to try new hair color ideas for colorful alt hairstyles, some might suggest using hair dye. However, note that even if that option works, it is unnecessary.

Bleaching products will strip all the colors of your hair, including its natural color. This is advisable if you genuinely want to bleach your hair and try a new bright color.

However, this will be pretty damaging to your hair as it will open the cuticle, so you must be prepared for the consequences should you make a mistake.

On the other hand, using a bleach-free hair lightening color remover or stripper will only affect the hair dye you previously applied to your hair.

This will not be quite as damaging compared to bleaching your hair and it is ideal if you just want to lighten or change your hair color by a couple of shades.

Whether you choose color stripping or bleaching, take note that it would be ideal to do it in a salon with the help of a professional stylist. This will help you get the results that you want from the treatment, plus you will receive useful pieces of advice when it comes to proper hair care.

Best Ways to Strip Your Hair Color at Home

If you are looking for the best options and solutions for stripping your hair color in the comfort of your own home, here are some things you can try.

Vitamin C Powder

Vitamin C supplements contain ascorbic acid. Just like lemon juice, it helps break down the hair dye so you can wash it off.

Vinegar and Water

Vinegar also contains acid, acetic acid, to be exact, but it is a bit too strong to use straight on your hair. To strip hair dye gently, you will need to dilute the vinegar in some water. In most cases, a 1:1 ratio is ideal.

Baking Soda

One way to gently strip permanent hair dye is to use a baking soda slurry. The baking soda particles will gently scour the dye to lighten your hair gradually.

Adding lemon juice to the slurry can make this a bit more effective. The acid in the lemon juice will assist the baking soda in lightening your hair color.

Baking Soda

Hydrogen Peroxide

This is the most effective method for stripping the hair color that you can do at home. However, you must monitor your hair closely as it can bleach your natural color if you use too much peroxide. This works well if you want to try a dirty blonde hair color.

Methods for Stripping Hair Dye

Here are the different methods for stripping off hair dye and the steps you should undertake.

Using Baking Soda

Step 1 – Make the slurry

Grab enough baking soda for the length and thickness of your hair. Add just enough water to turn it into a thick paste or slurry. The mixture should have the same consistency as runny oatmeal.

Step 2 – Apply the slurry to your hair

Place enough baking soda slurry and gently massage it into your hair using your fingers. Make sure that you cover all hair strands with the baking soda paste.

Step 3 – Allow it to sit for at least five minutes

Once you have covered your hair with the baking soda paste, allow it to sit for at least five minutes. You can wear a shower cap to prevent the paste from drying up too quickly.

Step 4 – Rinse hair

After five minutes, remove your shower cap and rinse your hair under lukewarm water. You can also use clarifying shampoo to help the process further.

If you are not satisfied with the amount of hair lightening, repeat the process as many times as needed, waiting at least 24 hours in between.

Using Vitamin C Powder

Step 1 – Crush Vitamin C tablets

Although you can probably find some Vitamin C powder if you look hard enough, Vitamin C tablets are available in all drugstores. Take 15 to 30 Vitamin C tablets and crush them into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or whatever method you have available.

Step 2 – Mix the powder

Mix the powder with some shampoo to create a slightly thick paste. If you have clarifying shampoo, it would be better to use that instead of regular shampoo.

Step 3 – Apply the paste to your hair

You will use this Vitamin C paste as a mask for your hair. Place a bit of the paste in your hands and gently massage it into your hair. Once you have sufficiently coated every strand of hair with the hair mask, wear a shower cap to keep it from drying.

Step 4 – Wait and rinse

You must give the hair mask enough time to work its magic. It would take at least 15 minutes for the Vitamin C treatment to work.

If you want to lighten your hair more, wait a bit longer. After waiting long enough, you must rinse your hair under lukewarm water. Repeat as much as needed.

Vitamin C Powder

Using White Vinegar

Step 1 – Combine white vinegar and water

Using straight white vinegar will damage your hair too much. You will need to dilute the vinegar first. Ideally, use a 1:1 ratio. Make enough of the vinegar solution to cover your hair.

Step 2 – Apply the vinegar solution

Pour the vinegar solution into your hair and gently massage it into every strand, covering the roots and tips. The vinegar can also help clean your scalp, so massage it into your scalp and head. Wear a shower cap to prevent your hair from drying and improve its overall health.

Step 3 – Wait for at least 15 minutes

Preferably, wait 30 minutes and then rinse your hair using lukewarm water. You can also apply a deep moisturizing conditioner, as the vinegar would have dried your hair a bit. If you are unsatisfied with how much your hair has lightened, you can try again after a day.

Using Hydrogen Peroxide

Step 1 – Dilute the hydrogen peroxide

Ideally, you should dilute it in equal parts water. If you want to gradually strip the pigments of hair dye, then increase the amount of water used.

Step 2 – Apply on your hair

Pour the hydrogen peroxide solution gradually into your hair and gently massage it, so every strand is soaked.

Step 3 – Wait 10 minutes and rinse

Wear a shower cap to keep the peroxide from evaporating and wait for around 10 minutes to let the chemical work its magic. Don’t wait too long or you might lighten your hair color too much and make your hair too brassy. After 10 minutes, rinse your hair thoroughly and towel dry it.

Methods to Avoid When Stripping Hair Dye

Here’s what you should avoid when attempting to strip hair dye, especially at home:

Using Hair Bleach

The problem with using hair bleach is that it not only strips the dye off your hair but also lightens your natural hair color. This is the reason why you should avoid it as much as possible. Leaving the bleach on for too long might turn your hair white and irritate your scalp.

Waiting Too Long

If you are using a commercial hair dye stripper, ensure that you only wait for how long the instructions tell you. If the instructions state that you will wait 20 minutes, avoid waiting longer than that. Waiting 40 minutes will not double the lightning effects but will only do the opposite. Yes, the hair dye stripper would make the hair dye look even darker than before.

Removing Hair Dye Immediately After Application

You might think removing hair dye right after applying it is easier, but that is not the case. If you use a color stripper right away, it could potentially turn your hair color darker.

Hair Maintenance After Color Stripping

  • Shampoo your hair less often – Treat your hair as if you dyed it recently, meaning washing after coloring is not okay. Because you’ve damaged your hair a bit due to the color stripping, shampoo your hair less frequently, preferably just twice a week. Wait until your hair has recovered enough before washing it as usual.
  • Use a deep moisturizing conditioner – Just like hair dyeing; color stripping will dry your hair, so you should moisturize it immediately. After rinsing the dye stripper off your hair pigment, apply a deep moisturizing conditioner. This will immediately kick off your hair’s recovery.
  • Do not use heat styling – Your hair will be a bit fragile after color stripping, so avoid using heat for styling your hair. Do not use hair dryers or hair irons for now. However, apply a heat-protection hair product beforehand if you need to use them.
  • Use sulfate-free shampoo – Now that you have painstakingly removed just enough hair dye to lighten your hair to the desired level, you should avoid using sulfate shampoo. Sulfate will further lighten your hair color, so you should not use it. You can typically find sulfate in anti-dandruff shampoos.


What hair color is the hardest to remove?

Red is the hardest hair color to remove, and incidentally, it is also the hardest to maintain. If you dye your hair red and do not like it, you should just darken it a bit, as you will not be able to remove it entirely yourself.

Do I have to color strip before I go to a lighter color?

No, you can use a hair dye stripper if you just want to lighten your hair color by a couple of shades. There are some brands of color strippers that you can dilute a bit if you just want to lighten your hair a smidge.

Is color stripping bad for your hair?

Color stripping damages your hair, but not as much as straight hair bleaching. However, if you choose color stripping, you should do the same post-maintenance as you would if you dyed your hair.

When should color stripping be avoided?

First, you should avoid color stripping when you have your hair bleached. Color stripping will not lighten your hair more than after you have it bleached.

You also must avoid color stripping if the prior treatment causes serious scalp irritation. You should at least wait for the scalp irritation to clear up before trying to strip off the hair dye.

Can I use hydrogen peroxide to strip color from my hair?

Yes. However, you should monitor your hair closely if you resort to the use of this particular solution. Also, avoid using hydrogen peroxide without diluting it first in some water, as it would cause your hair to lighten too much.

Which color stripping method is the least invasive?

If you want to use the absolute safest and least invasive method of stripping hair dye because you want to try new hair color ideas, you can use either the baking soda or the white vinegar method.

However, if you want to lighten your hair considerably, you will need several sessions to lighten your hair beyond one or two shades.

Anthony Giannotti

About the author: Anthony Giannotti

Anthony Giannotti is a senior writer and editor for Beardoholic and a licensed barber for more than 13 years. He owns 3 barbershops and has his own hair care product line that is sold in barbershops worldwide. Known for his impeccable technique and skills, Anthony is an expert in hair and beard care and he knows the best products and tools to get rid of all beard problems and have an amazing beard.

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